You’re working hard and saving as much as you can, but your expenses seem to be going up faster than your income. The rent on your apartment is increasing, tuition for the new school year is coming soon and there are a bunch of other bills that need to be paid soon. That leaves you with less money.
According to the recently released 2022 Aflac Holiday Health Issues Survey, 82% of respondents say they will cut back on holiday gifts, travel expenses, or take on credit card debt this holiday season because of financial concerns, with two-thirds doing so because of health care or related out-of-pocket costs.
Financial stress becomes a real problem at times like this. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much money you make. This type of anxiety comes with almost every adult stage of life. Managing personal finances well requires planning and discipline, two things that aren’t always easy to do. However, making financial planning a practice will make budgeting an easier task.
Stressors like student loan debt, credit card obligations, and unexpected expenses can quickly overwhelm even the most organized person. However, financial stress doesn’t have to get the best of you.
1. Commit to a budget
A budget is a great way to get a sense of where your money is going each month and to identify areas where you can cut back. By preparing a budget, you’ll get a clear picture of your financial situation and the amount of money you have to work with each month.
This can help you avoid falling into debt or feeling like you can’t make ends meet. Instead of looking at each new expense as a burden, look at each one as an opportunity to make your budget work. Will that new pair of running shoes help you stay active and healthy? Will booking that flight bring you closer to a loved one?
How about those trips to the vending machine? Are they necessary? Also, think about your exercise routine. You may save more money by walking or cycling to the park instead of spending time in a gym.
2. Pay off your debts ASAP
The best way to eliminate financial stress is to get rid of your debts. Credit card debt is one of the worst types of debt because of the high interest rates. By preparing a budget and sticking to it, you’ll reduce the anxiety that comes with paying your credit cards. Prioritize your cards, so you can pay off at least one credit card each month.
3. Define what “enough” means to you
What do you want your life to look like? What is “enough” for you? What will you do with your savings once you have enough money for your desired lifestyle? When you define what “enough” means to you, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to do to get there. Knowing how much money you need to save to reach certain goals in your life will help you follow a clear path financially.
4. Take care of yourself
Many people resort to unhealthy habits when they’re stressed, like eating junk food or skipping exercise. These activities only cause you to feel more anxious. Try to avoid these traps by finding healthy ways to cope with your stress. You don’t have to meditate for hours or go to yoga every day. Simple things like taking a long walk, reading a book or even just taking a few deep breaths can help calm you down and give you a new perspective.
5. Reach out for help
Sometimes we need a little extra help to get our finances in order. Whether that’s hiring a financial planner, working with a budgeting app, or joining a support group, you can reach out for help online or through resources in your community.
Take a financial stress management workshop or find a debt counselor to help you get back on track financially.
Financial stress can feel like an uphill battle, but it doesn’t need to rule your life. By committing to a budget, paying off your debts ASAP, defining what is “enough,”, and taking care of yourself, you can tame your financial stress and feel more in control of your money.
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