More money more problems, as The Notorious B.I.G. so famously put it. You might not believe it, but financial stress is the cause behind 60% of illnesses. What’s worse: 65% of people experience financial stress in varying degrees at some point in their life.
This means that financial stress isn’t something you should ignore; it’s a serious issue, that can have real health consequences.
The problem is that financial stress is only a side effect of something bigger; financial difficulties are nothing to laugh at.
Ever since the recession, more and more ordinary people have been experiencing real challenges that force them to make difficult financial decisions.
Making ends meet isn’t easy, and even working two jobs doesn’t always cut it.
People who are able to stay afloat still have to contend with the regular stresses that money can bring.
After all, you never know when financial surprises will pop up. All it takes is one major unexpected expense and your savings will go down the drain.
As such, it becomes necessary to look into stress-relieving options.
Here are eight tips to help you deal with financial stress.
8 Ways to Cope With Financial Stress
1. Understand Your Situation
Though it’s always easier to keep yourself in the dark, that isn’t helpful at all. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but only up to a certain point. If you really want to get a handle on your finances, you need information.
Start by writing down all your income sources and your expenses.
Don’t be afraid to be honest and write down all the debt you have.
This is not the time to sugarcoat things. This will show you where you stand in regard to your financial situation.
2. Create a Budget
Part of getting a handle on your finances — and therefore improving your own financial peace of mind — is creating a budget. Based on the information you gathered from writing down all of your income and expenses, you should be able to create a budget.
Your budget will show you where you are over spending each month, and help you identify where you need to cut back on your spending.
Now is the time to figure out ways to reduce your spending.
Related: 30 Simple Ways to Save Money
Now the next logical step, of course, is to stick to this budget.
3. Start Reducing Debt
Nothing improves your mood better than getting things done.
But which debt should you pay off first?
There are two ways to go about reducing your debt.
One way is to start with the smallest amount.
It’s easier to pay off and you’ll get a lovely sense of achievement in no time.
The second option is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate, since the longer you keep it around, the bigger the amount you’ll have to pay later on.
The important thing is to make a decision, and start taking action.
4. Start a Savings Account
Now you might think this is weird. If you don’t have enough money, how are you expected to put money into a savings account?
The truth is that you can save, no matter what sort of financial situation you’re in. It’s better to save a small amount of money in a savings account, rather than not save at all.
And, if you can, now is the time to start looking into possible investments.
Check out the many options available to you.
5. Do Not Compare Your Lifestyle With that of Others
This is the surest way to create financial stress. When you look at the material things that your neighbors or colleagues own, you could be tempted to keep buying things beyond your means.
The problem is that it will never be enough.
There will always be someone cooler than you, richer than you, or trendier than you. That means you’re trapped in a terrible, never-ending, cycle of always trying to be better.
6. Think Positive
When you’re in debt, it’s very easy to feel upset and depressed.
Don’t do that!
Go forward and focus on the actions you can take.
All the tips mentioned earlier are designed to help you save yourself from a financial rut.
Being proactive is better than wallowing in despair.
7. Find a Free, or Very Inexpensive, Hobby or Sporting Activity
A very good way to cope with financial stress is to stay active and find something that you enjoy doing.
It’s always important to not let your financial troubles keep you from enjoying your life.
You have to go outside, get some fresh air and sunshine, and have fun!
Hobbies and sporting activities can take your mind off your financial problems.
They won’t go away in a snap, so you have to make an effort to lighten up your mood while you’re still working through your financial difficulties.
8. Get Help With Your Finances
This means two things:
One, you’ll need help from a financial expert who can help you sort things out. This is one of the fastest ways to make sense of your finances.
Because when you are upset it can be difficult to find good ways to deal with your issues. Your emotions take over and they cloud your judgement.
A professional, with experience in dealing with finances, will provide you with tips, suggestions and specific steps, that you can do right away.
Second, you’ll want support from people who love you.
Going through financial difficulties isn’t easy. You’ll need people you can trust — people who will help you up when you’re feeling down.
Just ask for help — don’t be afraid — and you’ll be able to get the love and support that you need to get through this.