Whether you make $20 an hour or $200,000 a year, there is one thing we can all agree on: Money can be stressful. According to a recent survey by Intuit Turbo and Cassandra Report of 1,500 US millennials ages 20-34, the majority of millennial women are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and even ashamed about their financial situation. Most people aren’t sure who to turn to with their money questions, even questions as simple as, “Am I doing this right?”
Learning how to ease your stress about money may not be easy, but when you take the time to identify the root of your money stress, you will be able to see your financial situation in a clear light, and decisions about where to spend and where to cut back become much easier. Here are a few ways to help alleviate your money woes.
1. Identify your problem areas. If you often stress about your money, you may not know where to begin. A good first step is to assess your situation realistically. Denial and uncertainty are both big stressors and can have huge effects on your mental state. Examine bank statements, credit card bills, any debts and open accounts, to know where you stand today. Hopefully there won’t be any surprises, but you may uncover things you were not previously aware of. This can help you reframe the way you think about money in the long run.
2. Determine which habits are causing problems. Money is so often tied to emotion, and it’s important to take a long look at what drives your anxiety. Perhaps your value of money is to indicate status or compensate for a feeling of inadequacy or to show others how much you care; it could even be a product of attitudes formed in childhood. Find out what your emotional connection is to money, and understand the way this affects your values and actions.
3. Find your money partner. Talking about money is daunting, but finding someone — your best friend, close coworker, or family member who you can confide in and ask for advice — will help you feel less alone. If you’re married, marital financial stress can take a toll on your relationship, so being deliberate in expressing concerns and staying open with your spouse is crucial to alleviating any tension. If there are problems, solving them together instead of hiding important details from one another is a much healthier way to approach your finances. With apps like Turbo, couples can view their joint household income (whether a full-time job with a W-2, a side gig with a 1099, or non-taxable military income) so you know where you and your partner truly stand.
4. Be strict about budgeting. Once you understand your situation and your approach, it becomes much more clear where and how you can cut back. Part of this is having a fairly rigorous budget, which may be difficult to adapt to but provides more security and peace of mind than failing to plan. If you know what bills and recurring expenses are coming your way, you won’t be taken by surprise by an expense and scrambling to make ends meet. Taking advantage of personal finance apps such as Mint can help you see a clear view of your monthly budget and also help you track bills and discretionary spending habits.
5. Save, save, save. When unexpected expenses do come your way, like car repairs or medical bills, having an emergency fund provides extra security and never leaves you feeling unprepared. Perhaps one of the most important ways to reduce your stress is to live within your means. Commit to spending only what you can afford, and don’t allow your value of something to be less than its price. This may mean downsizing your living situation, indulging in fewer expensive items, or re-thinking that new car you’ve been eyeing, but your financial troubles become manageable if you reframe the way you think about money.
What are your best money tips? Share them with us @BritandCo.
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