As you can likely tell by talking to friends, family, and coworkers in the last three years, financial stress and worry are on the rise. The past few years have been full of financial uncertainties and with everything from childcare to groceries costing more these days, it can feel like it’s impossible to have a positive financial future.

Many people are worried they won’t have money when it really counts, such as for medical emergencies or retirement. In fact, 90% of Americans say that financial issues have an impact on their stress levels and 77% are anxious about their financial situation. Stress and anxiety can lead to a host of other physical problems that can cost you even more money to treat, such as difficulty focusing, headaches, high blood pressure, compromised immune systems, trouble sleeping, and even increased drug and alcohol use to deal with negative emotions. So, how can we combat these feelings of doom, gloom, and anxiety when it comes to our finances?

Take a look at your finances

Sometimes the best way to face a problem or anxiety over a situation is to face it head on. The only way you’ll start to feel better about your finances is if you take action. Start by recording all of your expenses, bills, and debts. Have notes on each, including the frequency with which you buy certain items or pay bills.

If you have a significant other, include them in the tracking process. Then sit down and have a conversation with them about both of your spending habits and areas you think you can improve. Having a partner in the process can help share the load so you’re less stressed and also help keep both of you accountable towards your financial goals.

Ask yourself some important questions about your financial history

When you’re looking at your finances, you may also need to ask yourself some targeted questions to get to the root of why you have certain money management skills or habits. Ask yourself:

  • What were some of the lessons I learned growing up? (in school, at home, from family members, etc.)
  • What common advice about money have I gotten? Was it helpful or harmful to my goals?
  • How did my parents approach financial issues? How did that turn out for them?

By reflecting on what you’ve learned and what you still have to learn, you might be able to identify patterns in your spending habits and seek the help you need to get ahead in the areas that you’re struggling in.

Talk to a Family Member or Friend About Your Finances

Talking about finances can seem like a taboo topic, especially with anyone outside of your own home. But there can be a real benefit to opening up about your financial triumphs AND struggles with people you know and love. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member that you know seems to be pretty good with money. Ask them questions about how they stay organized and focused on their financial goals. They might have great advice for you or have been through a similar problem and can sympathize with your situation. Opening up to others can help you feel like you’re not alone and have an ally when times get tough.

Reassess Your Relationship With Money and Others

When you spend money, how do you prioritize what you spend money on first versus waiting for later? Do you have a tendency to buy more than you need or more expensive brands because you’re trying to prove you have a certain lifestyle? Do you see money more as a way to climb the social ladder than an asset to build on and grow?

That can be a problem. Socializing with others is important for your mental health, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your financial future. Spend time with others who are financially responsible and understand your financial goals. If you feel pressured to spend lots of money every time you go out, try being the one to suggest where you’re going to go out so you can make sure you can afford it and won’t regret your purchases the next day.

Be realistic about your financial goals.

Don’t create more stress by trying to figure all of your financial issues out in one day, or even one year. If you’ve been struggling with debt for a while or it’s just an off financial year, sometimes things take time before they can be resolved. But don’t lose hope! A well-crafted plan (and backup plans) can help you stay on track to reach your goals.

For example:

  • If you’re in a lot of debt, don’t force yourself to try and pay off an entire loan in one month. Make a payment plan and start with small, smart goals that are easier to reach.
  • If you want to own a home, get knowledgeable about all that goes into homeownership. Research the cost of living in different target areas, talk to friends and family that are homeowners, or try reaching out to a mortgage lender just to see how long it would take you to realistically save for a home.
  • If you want to start traveling more, don’t just hop on the next flight without any plans. Depending on where you go, the less money you have, the less opportunities you’re able to have while on vacation. Take the time to save some money before you go. Get a side job to earn a little extra cash. Travel can be expensive. You don’t want to regret traveling too soon and missing out on a great opportunity abroad.
  • If you want to save more for retirement, start by setting up an automatic deposit from your paycheck into a retirement account. Do some research on your finances so you know how much higher you can raise your total percentage of income going towards retirement and still cover all your expenses.

Limit Regret

Before you make any purchase (whether it’s a big, long-term object or just this week’s groceries), start thinking about the long term and short term effects. Are you actually going to use, eat, or enjoy every item that you’re buying? Are you buying this item without doing the proper research on the quality, lifespan, and cost? It’s important to be realistic with yourself and your own habits so that you don’t go overboard on spending. The most common example of this is with snacks at the grocery store. All of those colorful packages may look delicious in the grocery store, but then a year down the road you find that shiny new snack in the back of your cupboard or fridge, unopened and expired. Not only have you wasted your money, but you missed out on enjoying that purchase. Make a plan before you go to any stores and always remember to price check before committing to your final purchase.

In Conclusion

The world may feel scary and full of unknowns right now but that doesn’t mean you have to catastrophize about your financial future. Don’t let anxiety, depression, and apathy take over your finances. Take a stand and start working on them yourself! If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, always remember to take a second, slow down, reach out to others for support, and be kind to yourself. You will make mistakes and that’s okay! Just don’t let it derail your entire financial plan. When things get too overwhelming, take a step back. Go outside, reduce your time online, and know that you can tackle whatever problems are thrown at you.

If you’re ready to take the next step and open an account at Availa Bank, our staff is ready and waiting for you. Give us a call or stop by your local branch today!