Financial Health Check

7 Free Ways to Reduce Financial Stress

financial stress

If money worries are keeping you up at night and hurting your ability to focus at work, you’re not alone. Not even close. Financial stress distracts 1 in 3 Americans in the workplace, according to a recent Center for Financial Services Innovation study. In fact, they’re taking twice as many sick days — proof that for some of us, financial stress is simply overwhelming.

The study also says about 85% of Americans feel anxious about their financial lives. You might think that as income increases, financial stress declines — but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Financial struggles aren’t limited to certain salary ranges; instead, stress impacts employees at every level and in all industries. Why? Well, Americans are not great at saving money. According to Marketwatch, almost 69% of Americans have less than $1000 put aside in savings.

Free Things You Can Do Right Now to Lower Your Financial Stress

Accepting financial stress as just another part of life isn’t a viable solution. Take a look at these stress-busting tips that cost absolutely nothing to do:

1. Talk about it.

Whether it’s with your spouse, partner or a close friend, just voicing to your worries can make you feel better. When you get specific about what’s bothering you, you’ll feel more empowered to take small steps toward making positive changes. Staying in your own head isn’t helping. Start talking about your financial stress with someone you trust to take away its crushing power over you.

2. Write down exactly where your money is going.

Knowledge is power when it comes to banishing your financial stress. Write down every single monthly bill as well as the bigger annual or semi-annual ones, like property or income taxes. (A spreadsheet may not sound very fun, but it’s an easy place to track numbers and automatically do the math.) Then, look for places where you can trim back any unnecessary spending, like packing lunch instead of buying it. As you find little budgeting corners to cut, your stress levels should start to ease downward. Here’s another tip: Try to do this over a weekend or day off, since an hour really isn’t long enough. Set aside a chunk of time and ensure you’ve added up everything, even small expenses like your child’s school supplies. As your expense list keeps getting smaller, your mood should measurably improve.

3. Use your spare change to start an emergency fund.

Modest goals are ideal for whenever you’re feeling especially stressed. Most experts suggest creating a small savings fund to cover you in unexpected emergencies. Even a small contribution of $25 or $50 each month will help you feel better-prepared when financial setbacks do arise. Everyone has to put their car in the shop unexpectedly now and then, or a dentist bill they didn’t anticipate. You can start yours right now using just the spare change that’s rattling around in your couch, car or purse. By starting an emergency fund, you’ll be ready to deal with these annoying (but no longer Earth-shattering) facts of life.

4. Listen to this tune to slow down your heart rate.

Research shows that listening to this can make your anxiety fall as much as 65%. If you don’t want to look at a screen but need help relaxing, put on music that calms your mind. One good test to see what works for you personally is having someone else check your pulse while you listen. If your resting heart rate goes down when a song plays, add it to your personal “goodbye financial stress” playlist!

5. Consider taking on a side hustle to earn extra cash.

There are only so many levers you can move when it comes to money. One side of the equation involves increasing your monthly income. If you can start working a side gig, the extra funds should help dispel a lot of your financial stress. Those who live in large metropolitan areas can earn extra cash through Lyft, TaskRabbit or similar personal service apps. Individuals living in less densely populated areas can try renting out a room or tutoring students in their spare time.

6. Stop using your credit card unless it’s an actual emergency.

If you’ve got debt problems, it’s time to stop relying on credit to pay for routine expenses, like your groceries. Using cash or debit only for everyday expenses will help you get real about managing your finances better. This technique can put you a long way toward paying off your credit card bills — and never carrying a balance. And if online shopping’s your biggest weakness, forego your phone and stick to using your laptop only, says a new study. Touchscreen use leads consumers to make more “hedonic” purchases (i.e., “guilty pleasures”), while desktop-only purchases tend to be more practical, like printer paper or groceries.

7. Talk to an expert about other ways to achieve financial freedom.

When you’re feeling ill, you see a doctor. Perhaps it’s time to call in an expert who can help you finally come to grips with managing your finances. The good news is, your first consultation with one of our financial advisors is absolutely free and without any obligation. Make sure you bring a list of everything that’s causing your current financial stress. Then, get ready to enjoy a much brighter outlook once you’ve devised the right strategy to secure your financial future.

Leslie Sullivan
Exclusively covering all finance-related topics, including investing, saving money, estate planning, insurance, lowering your tax burden and everything you need to know about planning a comfortable retirement.
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