We’ve all done it; Woken up in the middle of the night, with our mind hell bent on stressing about money. I’ve been there.
What begins as a passing reminder to pay the hydro or cell phone bill can suddenly leave you worried about how you’d pay those bills if you lost your job, how you’re going to climb out of the debt you’re already in, or how you’re going to stretch what you do have to the end of the month.
If the topic of money gives you anxiety, there may be a deeper reason behind it. The good news however, is that you can definitely get control of your financial thoughts and actions. By controlling your cash – and not letting your cash control you, it’s entirely possible to rid yourself of those negative thoughts, and actually get a good night’s sleep.
How to Stop Stressing Over your Finances
1. Focus Only on What’s Good.
There is mental and emotional strength in focusing on the good aspects of your finances instead of the negative issues. Of course, thinking positively won’t magically stretch your budget, but it can help keep the anxiety at bay. It can also help you recognize and appreciate your financial strengths, which could give you some answers to some of your problems.
Grab a piece of paper and start listing the positive things about your finances. If you have a job that you love, and have a nice nest egg tucked away for a rainy day, this is a good thing. Even when things are tight or money is causing you anxiety, taking a second to focus on what you actually have can help you calm down.
2. Rework Your Budget
When I get the most stressed about my finances, it often means that something’s up with my personal budget. It can be anything from overspending on certain categories (probably shoes), to not properly planning my purchases. Regular budget checkups help you stay on top of what’s going on in your bank account. The feeling of being in control that it gives you, will help you stay focused.
Check these items off your to-do list when your finances start causing you stress;
- Review. Go over your monthly bills and spending habits, and make sure all your numbers are accurate by ensuring that receipts and bills match up with your budget. It’s expected that things can shift a little from month to month because of unpredictable events. This is completely normal, and this might be the perfect time to earmark a certain amount to an emergency fund to give yourself a little more peace of mind.
- Reduce. Check periodically to make sure you’re in good shape each month, since going into debt would be exactly the type of stress that you’re trying to avoid. If you find yourself in the negative numbers more often than not, it’s time to rethink your money-making or spending strategy. Think about taking a second job to bring in more cash, or reduce the number of nights you eat out, lower your cable bill, or postpone travel plans to restore balance to your bank account.
- Pay Off. Create a plan to pay off your debts, and stick to it so you have some idea of when your debts are going to be paid off – this knowledge alone can help you breathe a major sigh of relief.
3. Feel Confident
Past financial mismanagement can lead to an feeling of shame, or embarrassment, whether it’s a lack of money, faulty budgeting, or simply being ignorant of proper financial practices. Unfortunately, that shame can cause anxiety and future slip ups. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. With an unemployment rate hovering around 7% and an average household credit card debt of over $8,000, it’s clear that you’re not the only one having financial stress.
When you’re feeling embarrassed about money (or the lack thereof), remember that taking the time to organize your finances (even if the numbers make you sweat), can set you on a much more secure path. There’s no shame in wanting to be better with money, so don’t feel awkward if you need to approach the subject with your partner, or see a professional for help.
4. If you’ve got cluttered spaces in your environment, clean those up! More then just being a nuisance, clutter contributes to financial frustration, and costs you money in the short run. Ending clutter helps to give you a sense of freedom, so you can see your way clear to managing your finances.
In her book, “Feng Shui That Makes Sense“, author Cathleen McCandless takes you step-by-step through the process of using feng shui principles to create a home that will please your eye, relax your body, inspire your mind, and lift your spirit.
Bonus; See a Professional
Making an appointment with an accountant or a financial advisor can help rid you of the stress and anxiety, and help you know that you’re on the right path to improving your finances.
Some financial advisors offer a no-obligation, no cost/no pressure first appointment as a way to get to know each other and consider the basics of your finances. The process is very much like seeing a therapist, but for your money. Just bring a list of goals and questions to the first appointment. If you feel comfortable, make arrangements to see the advisor on a regular basis.