Finances can create a lot of stress. Do you have enough saved? What if a costly emergency strikes? Will you be able to make ends meet? Will you have money for the future you want to lead? It’s normal for these questions to roll through your head and even easier to stress out over them.
A study conducted earlier this year found that money is the number one cause of stress for Canadians. Of course, the pandemic isn’t helping matters. Four out of ten respondents said the COVID-19 crisis impacted their financial stress levels.
We’re shifting to working from home, juggling e-learning for kids, and some have lost their jobs. It’s no surprise that 2020 has been more stressful than ever before when it comes to finances.
It’s important, however, that you don’t let stress completely control your finances. We know that sounds easier said than done, but here are some tips to help keep your stress and your finances in check.
Talk About Finances
No one likes to talk about money problems. In fact, many people say it’s one of the three topics you should avoid (next to religion, and politics). Some find it uncomfortable or shameful to discuss it.
However, willingness to push through that awkwardness to have an open conversation about your financial health can be your first step to get back on-track. Stressing over finances can take a mental toll on you. Chatting with someone you trust (whether a friend or professional) can help you better process your emotions, thoughts, and next steps. You will probably be surprised that the person you are chatting with can relate, in some way, to your situation.
Review Your Budget
Budgeting is incredibly important. Having a budget will help you see a clearer picture of your finances. It shows you how your money comes and goes.
If you don’t already have a budget, we have a ton of useful guides here for you to get started. Step one is to create a budget. If you already have one, evaluate it again. Take an honest look at where your money is going and decide how to shift those allocations to fit your current life. By doing this, you may regain a sense of control.
Another area where you should be focusing on as you work through your budget, is your goals. Whether that’s saving more, spending less, or just cutting expenses, you have to ask what do you want to financially achieve? Do you want to save for something specific, create an emergency fund, or have funds for retirement? Having clear goals and a plan to achieve them will make you less stressed about your money.
Lastly, you should take your debt into consideration. How are you managing it? Debt is a financial burden and can certainly create immense stress. This is especially true if you’re paying a lot of interest. Determine what your plan of attack is to pay off debt and get on track.
Access Free Training
One of the biggest downfalls of our educational system is we aren’t taught financial literacy. This can make us financially inadequate, especially when we are going through a tougher time. However, a variety of resources can help, and many are free. Try out some of the following:
- Take a mental health course to help get in control of your stress and anxiety. CAMH offers a Mental Health 101 series that can help you get on track
- Essential workers struggling right now during COVID can check out the MHCC’s Crisis Response virtual training
- Coursera offers a variety of free courses in professional development, including some on finance
- Reach out to a financial advisor at your bank. They are free of charge and can be a great resource to help you control of your finances
- Read blogs (like this one) and seek out other online resources to help you tackle your finances and feel in control
Don’t Dwell on Investments
It can be scary to see your investments go through a downturn. However, it is normal for the market to fluctuate. Obsessively monitoring your investments can lead to unnecessary stress.
Seeing those gains and losses can create an emotional rollercoaster. You may wonder whether you should pull out your money to keep it safe. Instead, chat with your financial advisor/bank to better understand if your money is in the right place. After that, let it rest and set boundaries when it comes to how often you check on it. No more than once a week is reasonable.
Accept Financial Changes
For many people, COVID has led to reduced income, depleted savings, and even the loss of a job. It’s okay to let yourself time to process any changes before making any big decisions. Validate your (or your partners) feelings. It’s okay to feel anger, frustration, and fear for the future. You’ll be able to make more rational decisions once you’ve given yourself the opportunity to mentally regroup. If you need extra cash, you may want to consider a side hustle.
Seek Professional Help
Unfortunately, plenty of people still feel there is a stigma surrounding professional help. However, this can actually be very rewarding for both mental health and finances.
Speak with a financial adviser to ensure your banking decisions are rooted in logic (versus emotion). If you feel your finances are at the root of your stress and anxiety and it’s impacting your well-being and mental health, speak to a mental health professional. They can help.
If you need a financial option to remedy a temporary cash flow problem, utilizing payday loans through GoDay could help.
Create Additional Income Sources
It can be challenging to just stop stressing about money if you’re living pay cheque to pay cheque or you can’t even meet monthly expenses. To break that cycle, brainstorm ways to earn more income. Some ideas:
- Find a higher paying job
- Take on a second job?
- Start a small business
- Take on a side gig
Think about ways to leverage skills you already use in your job (or personal life) to create a profitable project or side business:
- Teaching music, dance, or other art forms
- Caring for pets
Focus on Positives
For many, financial stress comes from projecting a worst-case scenario. Remind yourself that you’re not in the future. Be present. This is the only place you can initiate change. It may sound cheesy, but keeping a positive attitude and using positive language when it comes to finances can help reduce stress.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
In this day and age, it’s really easy to compare yourself to what others have and their success. Your social media accounts are probably loaded with friends’ pictures of trips, cars, new houses, and other fancy things that you feel you can only dream about.
Comparing yourself to what others have and their accomplishments does nothing, but cause you stress. As humans, we look at wealth, success, etc. as a measuring stick to gauge our position, In reality, constantly comparing yourself to others it not a healthy way to live (and won’t motivate you financially).
Here are some things to remember the next time you feel the urge to compare yourself to others financially via Money Crashers:
- You don’t know what’s in their bank account. While a friend might seem to enjoy plenty of success, it could be courtesy of credit cards and debt.
- You don’t see the hard work and sacrifice that goes along with financial success.
- Your friends’ journeys are not yours – your experiences are unique.
- Many people post the best version of their lives on social media, so perception can be skewed.
- Keep some factors in your life private, so you don’t feel the need to promote a perceived sense of wealth to your friends. While it’s okay to share pics from your latest vacation, boasting online is unhealthy and can leave you spending more to maintain the façade.
- The only person you can change is yourself. Instead of gauging your success by that of others, create a measuring stick by which you can feel more in control over your money, such as a healthy savings account and an accurate monthly budget. These can be more effective indicators of your wealth and success – not someone’s Facebook photo album.
Financial stress is very common, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed to have it. However, learning ways to take control of stress will help you feel more confident and stabilize your financial situation. What are some of your biggest tips for overcoming financial stress?