6 Tips to Deal With Financial Stress
7 MIN READ
Published September 17, 2023 | Updated December 13, 2023
If you’re dealing with financial stress, know that you’re not alone. 52% of American adults state that money causes stress in their lives. It’s normal to worry about money from time to time. But if you’re experiencing mental or physical financial stress symptoms, it may be time to find ways to mitigate it and improve your financial situation.
What Is Financial Stress
Financial stress is a state of emotional tension, anxiety, or worry, specifically about money. Your stress may stem from your expenses, debt, or income. When you have an understanding of financial stress definition, it will be easier for you to identify if your stress is because of money or another cause.
What Are the Symptoms?
Financial stress can cause symptoms that are similar to anxiety. It can impact your thoughts, behavior, and feelings about money. Here are the main financial stress symptoms to look out for:
- Hopelessness, concern, or worry about your future
- Irritability and anger with family, friends, manager, or anyone else who is involved in your finances
- Feeling that you can’t keep up
- Feeling of embarrassment
- Feeling you don’t have enough money to manage emergency expenses
- Avoiding phone calls or any communication with creditors
- Physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart and shortness of breath
Causes of Financial Stress
Although anyone can feel financial anxiety, those with low income are more prone to it. People with low income may be working in unsafe environments or may be afraid to leave their jobs because they won’t be able to support their families financially. They may also not have access to healthcare and resources to manage their stress. Other causes of financial stress may include:
- Losing a job
- Unexpected financial pressure or expenses
- Being underemployed
- High debt
- Lack of savings
- Housing insecurity
- Food insecurity
- Gambling debt
How Financial Stress Affects (Almost) Everything
When you’re struggling financially, stress and fear become the norm for your daily life. It can make you feel despair, damage your self-esteem, and impact your physical health. Here’s how financial stress can affect every aspect of your life.
When it comes to money and mental health, there are several connections. When you feel like you can’t keep up with your bills even though you work hard, it can impact your self-esteem. You may not be able to get out of debt or may not be able to make more than the minimum payment on your credit card. It can isolate you from family and friends, and you may spend more time worrying about the mounting bills and how you’ll handle the next emergency when it arises. All of this can take a toll on your mental health.
Financial stress and depression related to money can negatively impact your health. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), financial stressors can lead to symptoms such as sleep problems, diabetes, heart disease, migraines, headaches, and more. When you’re constantly stressed about money, your body isn’t able to recover well and may be susceptible to viruses and colds. If you have chronic health problems, you may experience frequent flare-ups.
Financial stress takes a toll not only on your mental and physical health but also on your relationships. 7 in 10 cohabitating or married Americans have disagreements about finances with their partners. Parents with children experience relationship issues due to finances at an even higher rate. Dealing with financial stress at the earliest is crucial because it may negatively impact your relationship with your family and friends.
6 Tips To Cope with Financial Stress
If you want to learn how to deal with financial stress, here are a few tips to help you take charge of your finances and reduce your stress.
1. Create a Budget
Having a plan in place can help you cope with financial stress, and budgeting is the most effective way to do that. To create a budget, the first thing you need to figure out is your net income. If you have more than one source of income, add up the total net income from all sources. Next, review your spending to figure out your monthly expenses.
Making a budget will help you understand how much money you have coming in, how much money you spend each month, when your bills are due, and more. It helps you find ways to cut spending where you can so you can start building your savings.
2. Seek Professional Help
One of the best ways to handle financial stress is by talking to a professional. A financial advisor or a personal finance professional can review your life, budget, and goals and help you create a personalized plan so you can have financial direction. They can provide you with money management tips so you can learn how to control your finances and save for important goals.
With so many resources for financial counseling or therapy available today, it’s easier than ever to get access to professional help when you need it.
3. Make Small Changes
“Look for ways to save money in your budget, especially with the little expenses,” says Brad Reichert, Founder and Managing Director of Reichert Asset Management. “That cup of coffee at your favorite cafe or that dinner out when staying home and heating up leftovers will do are smaller discretionary expenditures that all add up each month.”
Reichert also suggests other money-saving options like using cash-back deals and coupons, shopping banks to find lower fees, switching to a lower-cost cell phone provider, or cutting cable TV for a lower-cost streaming alternative.
“All of these little changes add up to big savings, which can help take some of the stress off your finances,” Reichert adds.
4. Learn About Personal Finance
Learn as much as you can about personal finance topics such as budgeting, saving, financial freedom, and getting out of debt. This knowledge will empower you and motivate you to take action. You can find several podcasts, books, videos, and websites that talk about how to manage financial stress, as well as financial topics you may be interested in.
5. Track Your Spending
If you want to ease financial stress, you need to change your mindset and behaviors with money. Once you create a budget, you need to start tracking your expenses every day. Use tools or apps to track and manage finances easily. Link them to your bank account to automatically track your expenses. This will help you stay on top of your expenses and regain control of your finances.
When you know where your money is going, you’ll be able to identify areas where you can make changes and make better financial decisions. For example, if you notice a subscription charge each month for a streaming service you don’t use often, you can cancel it to save some money.
6. Be Honest and Open
If you’re dealing with financial problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to a family member or friend for support. Rather than trying to hide your financial situation, be honest and open with them. This will help reduce stress. You can even join a support group for people dealing with financial challenges. When you have a support group of trusted people to help, it’s easier to stay optimistic about your future.
The Bottom Line on Financial Stress
Whether you are experiencing money stress due to inflation or a job loss, it’s possible to learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress. Curb your financial issues by creating a budget, tracking your savings, and leaning on friends and family for support. Remember, you can always seek professional financial planning help to develop an action plan to achieve your financial goals. This will help you move away from constant worry and towards financial security.