April is Stress Awareness Month. One of the biggest causes of stress is money. This is why it is so important to remove these money stresses where you can.
With the current cost of living crisis, money stresses are only going to increase. You can’t make the price increases disappear, however much you might want to! However, it is possible to remove some of the stresses these price hikes are causing.
To help you do this, I’ve compiled a list of 5 things you can do to help take the stress out of your money.
In this post I’ll cover:
- Know what you’re dealing with
- Plan ahead
- Keep track of everything
- Talk about money worries
- Ask for help
Know what you’re dealing with
This is perhaps the hardest part. But, it’s one of the most important things you can do to remove your money stress.
Address the issues and know what you’re dealing with.
Collate all your bank statements, credit card statements and any loan/mortgage payments you may have.
Firstly, establish if you are in any debt. If you are, work out how much you owe in total. Then, work out your total monthly outgoings and compare it with your income. How much do you have left over each month or are you spending more than you earn?
This may well not be a fun task. You may find you are not living within your means which is causing your money stresses. Don’t panic at this stage! At least you now know what you’re dealing with.
You may also find your situation is not as bad as you thought and a few small changes will be all you need. If this is the case, hopefully you’ll have removed a lot of your money stresses.
Having addressed your issues, you can start making a plan.
Do you need to pay off debt? Do you need to cut down on ‘fun’ expenses to be able to pay your bills? Perhaps, you need to find a way to increase your income to meet your expenses or keep progressing towards your goals.
Take time to work out how you can achieve your goals. Don’t try and fix everything in one month. Like a crash diet, you may see short-term progress, but pretty soon you’ll be back to your old ways.
Instead, make a relatively long-term plan. Aim for small improvements each month that can become lasting habits. This way you’ll transform your financial future, rather than putting a plaster on the problem.
Keep track of everything
Once you’ve made your budget and plan, you need to make sure you stick to it. You can have the best plan in the world but if you don’t follow it, you’ll be in no better position than you were before you started planning.
Find a way to track all your expenditures and savings. You can either do this using a simple spreadsheet or some digital banks allow you to do this on your banking app.
By keeping track of all your spending, you’ll know exactly where you are each month. This will hopefully help you avoid any nasty surprises in the run up to pay day. It will also keep you on track with your goals – whether you’re trying to pay off debt or save a certain amount each month.
Talk about money stresses
Society teaches us that talking about money is wrong. Somehow speaking about money – even with those we’re closest too – is seen as a taboo.
We need to change this. Keeping any stress or worry to yourself makes it far worse.
Very few people are immune to the cost of living crisis. You are not alone in feeling the pinch. Your friends and family will almost certainly be struggling too.
Talk to them about it. Find out what’s on their mind and ask if they’ve found any ways to help cope with the rising bills. They may have thought of things you haven’t yet!
Talking to your friends may also help you save money on socialising. Rather than feeling pressured to say yes to going out for dinner or drinks, you may be able to agree on a cheaper alternative. For example, you could stay in and cook or go for a dog walk and coffee.
It’s likely your friends will be as grateful for the cheaper alternative as you are! We could all do with saving some extra cash at the moment.
Ask for help
If you’re struggling, never be ashamed to ask for help. Don’t stick your head in the sand and let your problems mount up.
There are plenty of charities and organisations out there to offer guidance and support. Don’t be afraid to make use of this help.
Citizens Advice is a good starting point for most money-related queries and worries.
It is an independent organisation specialising in confidential information and advice to help people with legal, debt, consumer, housing and other problems in the UK.
There are also specific charities that help with debt. For example, StepChange offers free debt advice and debt management services. Avoid companies that try to charge you substantial fees for debt support – these tend to be unscrupulous and won’t necessarily help you.
Don’t forget to follow me on social media @Katie20Percent to keep up to date with all my latest posts.
Did you know I offer freelance writing services and personal finance workshops and talks for schools, workplaces and organisations? I also regularly feature in the media. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on Twitter @Katie20Percent if you’d like to find out more.
If you found this post about how to take the stress out of your money, please share it with your friends and on social media. What are your top tips for getting rid of money stresses? Comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!