Experts define money stress as “emotional tension that is specifically related to money.”
How many of us can swear that we have never experienced money stress in their life? I bet only very few.
We all worry about money. In fact, a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that at least 77% of adults have money anxiety at least once every month. The stress might be due to debt, bills, medical expenses, etc.
Everyone experiences money stress. However, the effects might be more profound for people in the lower-income bracket. With the constantly increasing cost of living and the impact of the pandemic, it is expected that people with low income are feeling more and more trapped.
This not only affects their standards of living, but it also takes a toll on your mental health and even your physical health.
So how do you avoid getting swallowed by the tide?
Achieving your financial goals is all about getting one step closer to the life you daydream about, where you feel happy, secure, and on top of the world. Who wouldn’t want a cheat sheet that helps make that goal quicker? Here are seven ideas that will not only help you reduce money stress but will also propel you to achieve your financial goals faster.
One of the main reasons we feel financially lost most of the time is that we do not have a clear grasp of our financial situation. Experts refer to this as being financially self-aware.
Financial self-awareness is defined as the ability to know one’s financial situation in good detail. It is this knowledge that guides your spending, saving, and investing.
So the first step into getting rid of financial anxiety is to ensure that you have a perfect knowledge of your current money situation - understand all your existing financial assets, liabilities, spending patterns, and financial outcomes.
How much are you bringing in each month? How much do you have in your emergency fund account? What other assets do you have in hand? How much are your monthly bills? What are your spending habits, and how do they contribute to your money anxiety? What are your financial goals?
All these questions will help you put your financial reality in perspective.
The idea of this whole guide is to help you better plan for your current income so you can be able to meet your current needs and plan for the future at the same time.
So, the next step is to create SMART goals. I am sure you already have an idea of what SMART goals mean.SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.
If you want to start an emergency fund, don’t just write; you want to create an emergency fund. That doesn’t clearly show a roadmap to the end goal. Be more specific about how much you want to save and how exactly you will achieve the goal. Use the SMART goals formula to make the goal more focused. Here is an example:
See how clear and simple that was? This makes your goals look a lot more achievable and also improves your financial self-awareness.
One of the main reasons we get financial anxiety is chrometophobia - fear of spending or foreseeing a future financial ruin. While spending less is great and highly encouraged, sometimes it is not reasonable and might lead to severe financial stress.
Hence, while still setting long-term goals and planning for your bright financial future, remember to allow your current needs room to wiggle - especially for things you enjoy.
Studies show that over-saving for your financial goals is not always healthy. At first, the idea will be hot and shining, and you will be eager to make big serious sacrifices. However, the goals will look like a burden over time, and you'll begin to lose steam and wonder why you're depriving yourself of everything now when the finish line seems so far away.
So, as much as you feel a great motivation to make great strides financially at the moment, remember to be practical and plan for your current expenditure.
Chances are you are in this predicament because your income is insufficient to meet your current needs and invest for the future. You get money anxiety because you are sure that if you pay rent, you will not have enough to pay your monthly insurance premium and the school fees balance for your kids.
Truth is, you are not likely to have different results if you do things the same way you always have. So it is time to level up. Find ways to make more money. Maybe negotiate a promotion or a raise with your boss, start a side hustle or find ways to make passive income.
This will not only help you reduce your financial stress, but it will also help you reach your financial goals a lot faster.
An accountability partner is defined as “a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment.” It is a person who keeps you on your toes and encourages you to keep at it until you meet your goals.
When trying to make better financial decisions, reduce financial stress and reach your financial goals, an accountability partner comes in handy. It can be a friend, a spouse, a family member, or a mentor.
Telling another person about your worries and goals will not only help reduce your burdens but will also reinforce your goals and create accountability. It also helps create a cheering squad that will cheer you on as you strive to reach your goals.
Money stress can be incapacitating. It can make you feel insufficient and if not taken into control, it can lead to severe mental and health issues like depression and other related diseases.
Therefore, it is crucial to make the decision to get it in control today. Above are some of the changes you can make today to have a better tomorrow and achieve your financial goals faster. This does not mean it will be easy. However, with a plan and a conviction, even the smallest of steps eventually get you to your destination.