What to Do If You’re Stressed About Money

What to do if money stresses you out

Being stressed about money is not cool.

All the thinking and worrying only serves to bring you down. You start to feel paralysed by your situation.

It especially doesn’t help if you believe other people around you are really happy with their money. You can start to feel liked you’ve ‘failed’ in some way.

Money stress isn’t limited to people who are in debt or who earn a certain amount of money. You can have a positive net worth or a great income and still get stressed about money.

When you break it down, there are four factors that to money stress.

1. You’re Over Your Head

If what’s going out of your bank account each week is more than what’s coming in, then you’re on the fast-track to Stressville. You may be relying on credit cards to get you by, or counting on a big (but maybe not realistic) bonus to even out the year. If things get really dire, then you may look to declare bankruptcy or tap into your superannuation. Argh, major stress.

2. You’re Scraping By

If at the end of each month you’re left with a dollar in your bank account and five packets of 2-minute noodles in the cupboard, then I’m guessing you’re not feeling all rainbows and unicorns. Even the slightest bump in your budget – a car repair or broken appliance – could spin you out completely. Just like Aerosmith said, living on the edge is not a fun place to be.

3. Being in the Red

Borrowing is pretty much a fact of adulthood. We borrow for our education, borrow to buy a house, maybe even borrow to fund your investments. But owing a lot of money can be a source of stress – even if you can meet the repayments.

This is especially so if your debt is due to something that has declined in value – like say a car or (sadly) a house. You’ve got no choice but to keep paying the debt, or risk losing a lot of money if you sell.

4. You Don’t Know What’s Going On

Pile of unopened mail on the counter? Haven’t checked a credit card statement since January – last year? You might have a healthy bank account and feel like you’re getting by. But without the full picture of your finances, there’s always that nagging feeling that something is going unpaid/missed/or forgotten about.

(True story – I once dated a guy who had an entire shoebox of unopened mail, which totally stressed ME out.)

How to Deal with Money Stress

Okay, so if you’re stressed about money what can you do? Obviously there’s the standard responses of make more money and spend less money. But if you’re totally overwhelmed by your situation then that advice can seem a little glib.

Get the Full Picture

You know that scene in Shopaholic where Isla Fisher’s character, with the help of tequila, finally opens all her credit card bills and debt notices to figure out exactly what she owes.

Yeah, you’re gonna do that. Seriously. You can choose whether it’s over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

Sit down, open all those envelopes (or download your statements if you’re online), and just write down those totals. No judging or I wishes. Just write it all down.

Chances are your situation isn’t as bad as you’ve been thinking it is. And if it’s actually worse? Well it’s easier to fight a battle if you know who the enemy is.

Focus on a Quick Money Win

If I’m starting to feel stressed about my money situation, often I’ll just go and upload half a dozen things on Gumtree to sell. Sure, I may only make $40 from the lot. But that quick cash-win can be energising and reminds me that I’m more in control of my earnings than I think.

Your quick win might actually be saving money. Maybe a 10 minute conversation with your phone company to change your plan. Or committing to eating only from what’s already in your cupboard for the week.

Tackling an easy challenge will help you to change your mindset around money and empower you to tackle those bigger money worries.

Speaking of which…

Understand What’s Really Worrying You

Often our stress triggers aren’t actually what’s really bothering us. Maybe you get stressed about your weekly grocery bill, but actually what’s really worrying you is how much money is going towards rent.

Or maybe you get stressed about going out for drinks with the girls, but your major problem is really that you’re not earning enough at work.

If you can figure out what the underlying cause of your money problems are, you’ll be one step closer to reducing your anxiety around money.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help

Money stress can feed into all other aspects of our lives, causing you to feel totally overwhelmed.

Getting some outside perspective can help you get back in control. You could speak with a trusted friend or family member or, a financial expert. You speak with a financial counselor in Australia for free, and they can also help you to negotiate with your creditors if you need some more breathing space to pay back your debts.

No matter what you do, remember that your financial situation isn’t a reflection on who you are. By working through your money stress, you can become stronger and better able to face to other problems that come up.

PS 6 Money Mindsets That Are Keeping You Poor | How To Make Money at a Second Hand Market

How to Actually Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Chances are you’ve got a few dreams floating around in your head that you’d one day like to turn into reality. For many people, this their Bucket List of places to visit and things to experience. It might also be that dream career you’ve been talking about since high school, or the skill you been talking about trying to master when you’ve got the time (that’d be ‘Learn Spanish’ on my To Do list).

How to Turn Your Dreams Into RealityIt’s not always realistic or even possibly to complete everything we think we might want to do one day. Other times, our dreams get replaced by new, more meaningful ones.

But if there’s some dream that you’ve had kicking around your head for ages, but you’ve not yet followed through with it, then here are some steps to take to turn that dream into reality.

Break Your Goal Down into Steps

Often we don’t go after a goal because it just seems too big and scary and we don’t know where to start. This ends up paralysing you into inaction and instead you stay put in your current situation.

So if your dream is to trek through South America for six months, think about what steps you would need to take to make that a reality. Step 1 might be ‘research route options’. Then the next step would be, ‘work out budget and set up automatic saving plan‘.

By breaking down your dream into actionable steps, it won’t seem so scary or difficult. As you knock down each step, your dream will slowly become an actual, real think that you are going to do and before you know it you’ll be on a plane for the trip of a lifetime. Awesomesauce!

Turn Your Actions Into Habits

So you have this idea that you’d like to start your own business selling your jewelry at the markets and online. But as of right now you’ve done absolutely diddly because that would involve actually setting up a website and making a bunch of necklaces.

Hey lady, #truthbomb coming at you – if you don’t make time for your dream then nothing is going to happen.

So if you want to start a business/learn another language/become the world’s best finger puppeteer then you’ve got to start working on it every single day. Schedule that time into your diary and start making it a habit.

It’ll be hard at first, but if you work on it a little bit each day, before you know it you’ll actually look forward to that time.

Give Up Those Productivity Time-Sucks

So confession time: I love, love, loooove those crime dramas on television. Law & Order, CSI, Criminal Minds – all of them.

You might not have a tele-crime obsession, but perhaps you love reading trashy magazines in the bath (hey, no judgement), or playing Minecraft (isn’t that what the cool kids are doing?).

Whatever it is, you’re going to have to do a little less of it if you want to make time for your big-hairy-goals.

That might mean no television during the week. Or devoting Saturdays to working on your goal.

But remember to treat yourself to your indulgences every now and then. ‘Cos all work and no play, and all that.

Tell me what big goals you’ve got floating around your head. Is 2015 going to be the year you make it happen?

Image source: Flickr/the aucitron