If you worry about money then you can be sure that you are not alone. Money stress is probably a lot more common than you realise. One survey shows that:
People seem to be good at caring for their physical health. They are comfortable with visiting a doctor for advice to resolve an issue that is clearly a physical one. In recent years, people have also been much more open when it comes to mental health and as a nation, we are encouraged to talk. As the figures above show though, we’re not so great at talking about money and stress.
Do you recognise yourself in those figures? Are you one of the 9 million that face daily issues with stress over money? If so, read on and let us show you some great ways to take back control.
We know that living with money stress can place a great strain on lives. It can lead to issues with relationships, declining mental health, and even a deterioration in physical health. That is reason enough to take steps to deal with money and stress and we’re here to help:
Review your finances
When dealing with money stress it is common for people to start to develop ostrich syndrome. They start to bury their heads in the sand and hope that the problems will just go away. This leads to letters being left unopened and phone calls being ignored. Unsurprisingly this does little for money stress. All that it does is see the issue build and build for another day. You know that is the case and that’s why the anxiety kicks in. So what should you try instead?
You can’t improve something if you don’t exactly know what’s wrong with it. Sometimes it can be quite scary to see on paper exactly what your outgoings are or quite how high your levels of debt are, but it is the first step towards dealing with stress over money. Write out exactly what you own and owe across all your accounts. While this first step might be hard, it will also help you feel more in control.
Make a plan
If you’ve carried out a review of your finances, you now know exactly what you are facing. This means that you can now start to plan to reduce your money stress. Putting a plan in place has two positive effects. Firstly, it sees you getting ready to take action and only action will resolve your situation. Secondly, a plan puts you back in control. When things appear to spiral, stress over money increases. Regaining control can put an end to this.
What are you going to plan for? It is a great idea to start planning a budget. Review your income and expenditure and find out where each and every penny is going. If after this your money stress still seems hard to beat, you need to plan who you are going to talk to. If you are struggling to meet repayments you will find that many lenders are quite understanding and will try to help. Negotiate a payment holiday or reduced payments for a while. Ignoring it will only add to your stress and destroy your credit score.
It’s good to talk
As well as taking to your lenders, another great tip for approaching stress with money is to talk. Don’t be one of the 55% that are scared to talk. There is no shame in facing financial issues and in truth talking can be a step towards putting them right. Even if talking can’t undo a tricky financial situation, it can help you to feel better. Confiding in a partner or trusted friend means that you are no longer facing the issue alone. You’re also likely to find that they have been facing similar issues and worries at some point.
Opening up also sees you being accountable to someone else. This can often be a driving factor and spurs people on to get things done. Tell your chosen person that your money stress is out of control. Tell them what you are going to do about it. Get them to check in with you and your progress. If you are reporting back to someone you are far more likely to get on with doing what needs to be done.
An honest conversation with yourself!
While it is great to talk to other people, to truly reduce your money stress you need to be open and honest with yourself. You need to identify why you are experiencing stress over money. Is there actually a reason for it, such as your behind with payments, or is it something that you just generally worry about? Either way, you need to understand why.
If you are struggling with payments, what is the reason for this? Do you struggle to manage money? Do you lack discipline? Perhaps there have been events beyond your control. Only you know the truth, but if you have some responsibility then by facing up to that you can then make positive changes. If you generally worry about money maybe you were brought up thinking that money is just bad? This sees people almost repel money! If this is a belief that you hold then this needs to be challenged.
Try some stress-reducing techniques
When people are suffering from stress or anxiety, medication isn’t always the answer. In many instances, doctors and professionals are now suggesting relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes before turning to pills. Stress over money is no different: there are steps that you can take to improve your state of mind.
Exercising can be a great help due to the feel-good endorphins that are released. Alongside this, it is worth exploring options such as mindfulness. There are numerous online guides that exist to show you what mindfulness is and how it can benefit you. This can be combined with positive affirmations. Using these can challenge some of the negative beliefs that are held and see a change in how you approach money issues.
Start with small steps
Don’t add to your money stress by putting too much pressure on yourself. If you have found yourself in a financial situation that is less than ideal, you can’t expect to solve this overnight. By having a plan in place, as we have already looked at, you can however start to make progress. It could be that you start by cutting out a subscription or two. Maybe you are used to buying a coffee on the way to work? Stopping this is only a small step but it is incredibly simple to do and will definitely improve your financial situation.
Of course, don’t just stop with the small things. To truly control stress over money, you need to be able to tackle the big issues too. To keep yourself motivated you need to learn to give yourself a pat on the back! By regularly reviewing your progress you are going to spot successes. When you do, be sure to celebrate these.
Apps are often a great way to achieve goals. They provide a visual representation and the fact that they can be accessed via a smartphone means that they are always with us. There are apps that will help you to create a budget so that you can take control of your spending and reduce bad feelings around money and stress.
The Wollit app is a great way to take control of your finances. By signing up for free, users are given a Wollit Health Score. This is a reflection of the current state of your finances. We can help you monitor your spending habits and give you personalised tips on how you can make improvements. You are rewarded with points for achieving goals such as staying out of your overdraft and paid users can even access tools to improve their credit rating.
It is perfectly okay to be worried about certain things in our lives. It is also okay to be careful where money is concerned. What we need to achieve is a balance where we can enjoy our lives but also be able to meet our financial commitments. When people fall behind with these commitments it goes beyond a simple worry or trying to be careful. Some of the statistics around money stress are actually quite scary.
The important takeaway here is that, yes, stresses caused by money can be overwhelming, but by taking action there is always a pathway that can see you recover. Recognising that financial stress exists is an important first step and one that will lead to you reviewing your situation and habits. Small steps have an almost snowball like effect and lead to bigger changes overall.
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