The year is already in full swing, and whether your resolution was focused on a new diet, workout regimen, or mindfulness practice, there is one thing you may not be thinking of: money.

For most, money can be a confusing, overwhelming, and downright stressful topic — but it doesn’t have to be! Learning how to ease your money stress doesn’t happen overnight, but developing this skill can help make you happier — and more financially — for years to come.

woman smiling about finances

When you take a closer look at your current situation, you may start to view your finances in a clear and different light, ultimately making your everyday money decisions easier to face. Here are a few ways to help alleviate your money woes.

1. Assess where you stand. In order to ease your financial stress, you first need to assess your situation realistically. Examine bank statements, credit card bills, outstanding debts, and open accounts. For some, this can be an eye-opening experience in itself. Denial and uncertainty are both big stressors and can have huge effects on your mental state. But taking a closer look at where your money is going can you help you identify where to cut back or reallocate your budget. This is also a great opportunity to take a step back and look at your finances holistically. Once you know where you stand, you can map out where you want to go with apps like Turbo to help along the way.

2. Curb bad habits. 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, leading you to purchase the latest stylish (yet pricey!) fashions, or wowing your friends with reservations at the hottest new restaurant. Or maybe your money habits are a product of attitudes formed in childhood that are hard to break. Knowing the question to ask yourself — Will this cause me more stress in the long run or help me hit my goals? — can help you kick that bad habit to the curb.

3. Communication is key. If you’re in a committed relationship with your significant other but not on the same page when it comes to how you handle money, problems can arise. Solving these together instead of hiding important details from one another is a much healthier way to approach your finances. If you’re not in a relationship, it’s still important to be open with those who know you best — roommates, friends, coworkers, and/or family members. Chances are, your friends are facing similar money issues that you can tackle together. Having honest and open discussions about your finances can only help you in the long run.

4. Stick to your budget. Once you understand your situation and your approach to your finances, it becomes much clearer where and how you should cut back and spend smarter. Part of this is having a clear budget. It may be difficult to adapt to at first, but ultimately, will provide more security and peace of mind than failing to plan. With personal finance apps like Mint, you can easily create budgets, build your savings, and see suggestions based on your spending.

5. Save, save, save. When unexpected expenses do come your way, like car repairs, medical bills, and the like, having an emergency fund provides extra security and leaves you feeling more prepared. If you don’t have an existing emergency fund or savings account, start today by setting aside what you can each month without going outside your means. Once you have a comfortable amount in your emergency fund, you can motivate yourself by setting savings goals for tangible things such as a much-needed vacation or an apartment upgrade. Saving money is always more enjoyable when you have something to look forward to.

How do you address your money stress head on? Share with us @BritandCo, @Mint, and @IntuitTurbo.

(Photo via Getty)