Coping with Financial Stress
Experiencing financial struggles is normal. But what can you do when it gets out of hand and begins affecting your everyday life?
“Money makes the world go round.”
Not everyone would agree, but it’s undeniable that this statement has some truth in it. Especially in our world today, where almost nothing ever comes for free anymore, and money plays a huge part in staying afloat.
What is Financial Stress?
Picture this: You're weeks away from payday, and you've run out of money. Coincidentally, your rent is due, you have no food in the house, and your bills are piling up. You’re one step away from being broke, and just the thought of all your money troubles is enough to keep you up at night.
Financial stress is a type of stress that occurs when one’s worried about their money situation. It’s the feeling of unease and anxiety that comes from monetary obligations, especially when one’s struggling to make ends meet.
In a report by CNBC, Capital One’s December 2020 survey found that 73% of Americans considered ‘finances’ as their top source of stress. This outranks other factors like politics (59%), work (49%), and family (46%).
Believe it or not, financial stress can impact not only your lifestyle or relationships with people around you but also your physical, mental, and emotional health.
What causes financial stress?
Several things can cause financial stress, and here are a few of them:
Probably the most common cause of financial stress. It pushes people into a paycheck-to-paycheck situation – meaning they also do not have enough money to cover unexpected expenses, like car repairs or medical bills. Often, it escalates into accumulating loans and debts, causing further anxiety in managing everything that needs settling.
Whether credit card debt, student loans, or medical debt, owing money is a heavy burden. Not only do you have to fret about making your monthly payments, but you also have the added worry of interest charges and late fees.
Being out of work for an extended period can lead to a severe decline in an individual’s standard of living. This can result in difficulties paying bills, maintaining a roof over your head, or providing for the family’s needs. Additionally, this entails the constant stress of finding a job to help you survive.
Living beyond your means.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a nicer lifestyle, but when you fall into the bad habit of spending more than you earn, it can lead to a financial disaster. Spending money you don’t have is like putting yourself in quicksand – it’s a sticky situation hard to get out of, and you’ll sink in no time.
Not knowing where your money is going.
If you're not keeping track of your spending, it's easy to overspend and end up in debt. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed about your finances.
High cost of living.
Expensive rent or mortgage, expensive healthcare, expensive tuition for your kids’ education, and higher prices of goods due to inflation. In short, expensive everything. When it gets harder to afford even the necessities, it strains already-tight budgets and brings the headache-inducing stress to another level.
How does financial stress affect your life?
Financial stress can manifest in physical symptoms like tension headaches, chest pain, nausea, muscle tension or pain, stomachaches, or insomnia.
Emotional symptoms may include anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, loneliness, guilt, and helplessness.
There are also possible effects in behavior, such as changes in eating habits, increased alcohol or drug use as a poor attempt to cope, procrastination, avoidance of social activities, difficulty concentrating, or trouble getting proper sleep.
What are the ways to cope with financial stress?
Talk to a professional who can help.
Don’t carry the burden on your own. Seeking the help of a financial advisor can guide you in getting your finances back on track. A therapist, meanwhile, can help you deal with the stress and improve your mental and emotional wellbeing. You’re struggling, but taking care of yourself should never be on the back burner.
Create a budget.
This helps you track your expenses and gives you a clear picture of where your money goes. This can ensure you’re living within your means, and you can free up money to cover expenses by making cuts in areas that aren’t necessary.
Reduce your expenses.
This goes hand-in-hand with making a budget. Look closer at your spending and see if you can cut back a little here and there. Enforce a lifestyle change if you must, if it can lessen your anxieties in making your money stretch out.
Augment your income.
Every bit of extra cash can relieve the vexing predicament you’re going through. If your financial woes are due to not earning enough, look into ways to bring in more bucks to your bank account. This could include getting a part-time job, doing odd jobs for people in your community, or selling items you no longer need.
Settling your loans or debts ASAP will save you money in the long run. The sooner you pay, the less interest you’ll accrue, and that can add up to big savings over time. Not to mention that once finished, you’ll have one less bill to worry about every month. This means you can have more money to spend on things you want.
Open up to friends or family members.
Money is tough to discuss, but talking openly about your worries to family members and friends you trust can alleviate the weight of stress you’re carrying on your shoulders. Getting advice from the people who genuinely care about you can help you feel less alone and more supported.
Coping with financial stress is not an easy process. But remember, you’re not alone in your struggles, and there are various resources you can rely on to get through the tough times. With patience and perseverance, you’ll eventually regain control of your life.
Author: Sophia Young