Stress is a natural response to the challenges we face everyday. Too much stress can cause more complicated issues related to your mental and physical health, your work, relationships, family and every other part of your life.
A recent survey reported that of all stressors out there, financial stress came in at number one in the U.S. Financial stress can stem from carrying too much debt, an unexpected financial expense, earning low wages, having a single income family, a partner who is a spender…the list goes on. It has been proven to be very impactful to your overall health. For example: If you have a lot of debt and live paycheck to paycheck, you may decide to skip doctor and dental appointments because you can’t afford the co-pay or deductible on your insurance. As a result small health issues can grow into larger health issues. And if you don’t take care of your health now (eating right, exercising, preventive care visits, taking medications, etc), you’ll probably spend more of your retirement savings on medical care. For these reasons (and many others), it’s very important to take care of both your finances and your health now.
But we’re not just here to remind you about your stress. There are several ways to reduce stress: creating a regular exercise routine, taking breaks during the day, going for a walk, getting a massage, leaving work on time, fresh air, talking to friends or family, playing with a pet, reading a book. Another good way to combat stress is to stop and identify what your personal stressors are and change your situation. Even a small change in the right spot can make a big difference. Here are a few common financial stressors and how to lessen each:
Living paycheck to paycheck: If this is your stressor, you can make changes that will give you more breathing room by creating a budget and tracking your spending. Get a handle on the money you have coming in (income) and what’s going out (expenses) and where you need to make adjustments. A budget is a plan, and having a plan helps you feel in control.
Unexpected expenses: Unpleasant surprises (car breaks down, the roof starts leaking, etc) are never fun and they always seem to leave you with a bill. Building a rainy day and emergency fund will help reduce the stress of unexpected expenses – you’ll know you can handle them without taking on high interest debt.
Housing: Whether it’s rent or a mortgage, this is almost everyone’s largest monthly expense. If this is dragging you down every month, consider downsizing to a smaller home or apartment or getting a roommate to help reduce your expenses. Those are big changes, but they have big impact.
Debt: If you have debt (credit card, student loans, personal loans) that keeps you up at night, put a plan together and focus intently on paying it off. Make a list of your debts along with the outstanding balance and interest rate. Put all extra money each month on the highest interest debt, that will save you the most in the long run. Don’t have extra money each month? Look through your expenses to see what you can live without for a while or find ways to bring in additional income. Even $50 more towards debt every month can get you to debt-free much sooner.
If you’re experiencing financial stress, BrightDime can help review your situation and put a plan in place to move forward.