Money can be a source of stress for many Americans. For instance, 73% of Americans say money is their biggest stressor, ahead of politics, work and family life. Student loan debt, a lack of savings and uncertainty over retirement cause additional concern for millennials who are entering their prime earning and saving years.
Here are five financial stress management tips to consider.
1. Identify your money pain points
The first step in getting money stress under control is figuring out what's causing concern. For example, you might be struggling with student loan debt, worrying over whether you have enough life insurance coverage or being part of the sandwich generation taking care of growing children and aging parents.
Pinpointing what's causing your worries can be helpful for coming up with a financial stress management action plan. For example, if you're concerned about not having enough life insurance for your family, consider researching your options and consulting with an insurance agent to evaluate your options.
2. Get on budget
An estimated 53% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and if you're one of them, that could easily be a reason for money worries. Learning how to budget and create a spending plan for managing your paychecks can help with reducing some of that stress.
As you create your budget, consider which expenses you can reduce or eliminate to create more breathing room. And don't forget to include savings as an item in your budget. Having an emergency fund in place of even a few hundred dollars can give you a sense of financial reassurance if a money emergency comes along.
3. Plan for the short term first
If you're overwhelmed by different aspects of your money situation, focus on one small thing you can do now to have a positive effect and reduce financial stress.
For example, student loans may be one of the realities you're dealing with. If it's causing you worry, consider how you can change that situation in the near term. Your options may include looking into deferment or forbearance periods if you need a temporary break from making payments. From there, you can work on finding a long-term solution to making your payments more manageable.
4. Consider your financial goals
If you don't have any financial goals, that in itself could be a source of stress. Think about what you'd like to achieve with your money. Perhaps it's building wealth so you can enjoy a comfortable retirement. Or maybe it's buying a home in the next few years.
Identifying a clear goal can help you come up with an action plan to follow through on.
So, for example, if you're hoping to add to your family, that might mean buying a bigger home. In that scenario, your action steps might be working on improving your credit score, saving money toward a down payment and preparing your current home to go on the market. Giving yourself a checklist to follow can help you feel less stressed about the process involved to reach your goals.
5. Focus on the positive
This last financial stress management tip might be the most important. It's easy to focus on what's not working with your money, but you don't want to overlook the progress you've made or are making.
As you work on reducing financial stress, keep an account of what you've accomplished. If you're working on paying off debt, for instance, track your balances month to month to see how they decline over time. And if you're working on saving money, track your balances to watch them grow. Doing so can help reduce stress and keep you motivated to improve your financial situation.
If you find that financial stress is affecting your daily life, don't hesitate to talk to someone in your support system or seek out resources to help you better manage stress and anxiety.