Reducing Financial Stress With Better Money Management
Concerns about money can strain your relationships, make it hard to sleep, and take a toll on your mental health. Getting control over your money can ease some of that stress. Here are some ideas to try.
- Focus on things you can change.
Identify the things that concern you the most. Maybe it's a fear of being unable to pay the rent or afford a doctor visit if you need one. Try making a list of all of your monthly expenses, the extra things you spend money on, and the amount of money you make each month. Next, look at one small change you can make right away. For example, maybe you can make your own lunch instead of going out as often.
- Take steps to lower your debt.
Too much debt is a common cause of financial stress. You may feel better if you can reduce your debt. Look at the list you made of your expenses. Figure out how much money you need to live on each month. Then put any extra money toward debt, such as credit cards or car payments. If you are behind on loans or payments, try working with a debt consolidation service. You might be able to merge your debts into one monthly payment. These services are often free or low-cost.
- Make a budget.
A budget is a tool you can use to pay down your debt and start saving money. There are free budgeting apps you can use to get started. Some people find it helps to use an envelope system to stick with a budget and avoid overspending. Decide how much money you'll spend each month on regular expenses, such as gas, groceries, or eating out. Put that amount of money in each envelope. On the outside of the envelope, write down what the money is for, such as "gas" or "groceries." Only use the money in each envelope for those expenses, and don't be tempted to spend outside of your set spending amount.
- Find small ways to make a difference.
Small changes can add up in the long run. Try finding one thing you can change to help save money. Even if you find a way to save $5 a week, you can save $20 a month. You could also start a family rainy-day fund. Even a few dollars each week will add up to a good amount of money saved by the end of a year.
- Reward yourself.
Even if you're on a tight budget, there are things you can do to reward yourself. When you reach a milestone on the way to a big goal, do something to celebrate that success. Look for things that seem indulgent but are free or don't cost much money. For example, take an afternoon nap, watch a movie in the afternoon, or make your favorite meal.
- Talk about the things that concern you.
Reach out to the people in your support network to get encouragement or guidance. Talk to someone in your family, a partner, a good friend, or someone in your church community. Sharing your concerns with someone else can remind you that you aren't alone. That person may also be able to suggest useful resources.