Take Control of Finances and Bring Stress Levels Down

Person holding debit card. Stress and finances.

We’ve all been there before. You roll (or walk) up to the ATM, insert your card, and find that something is not quite right. You’ve misplaced the funds and things are just not quite adding up. Which makes your stress skyrocket. Finances and stress are often linked, but you can do something about it.

Key Financial Management Mistakes

  • No budget
  • Overspending
  • Champagne taste on a beer budget

Budgeting is key to financial success

If you want to know how much money you have at any given time, you need to spend a little time to develop a budget. This need not be a huge undertaking, but you need to sit down and write out how much is coming in (income) and where it is going on the way out (expenses). Taking hold of your finances will go a long way to helping you manage stress.

Most of us have one income stream (our job), but if you have multiple streams of income be sure to tally the monthly income from all streams.

Don’t overlook expenses. Take a moment to sit down and write out an exhaustive list of your expenses both essential and non-essential.

Essential

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Car expenses–gas, service, insurance
  • Phone expenses–mobile (and landline if you still have one)
  • Utilities–gas, electricity
  • Groceries
  • Healthcare expenses
  • Savings
  • Pet expenses

Non-Essential

  • Going out to eat/drink
  • Stops at coffee shop drive throughs
  • Vacations
  • Shopping
  • Subscription services
    • Netflix
    • Hulu
    • Internet service
    • Cable
    • Music

Overspending

Overspending simply put is spending more money than you are bringing in. It’s easy to get caught up in this especially if you are stressed. How often do you buy something as a way to manage your stress even when you don’t have the money to do so? If this is you then sitting down and looking over your finances will likely do far more to manage your stress than buying that new (fill in your preferred impulse purchase here). Any quick search of how to better manage money typically brings up “SPEND LESS THAN YOU BRING IN” messages.

If you are using money to mange your stress levels you may find you are consistently in the scenario at the top of this article. Always running on an empty bank account. This simply makes the stress levels climb as you attempt to find more and cleverer ways to move things around.

Starting to budget while uncomfortable will help you to see where your money is going and make changes to address any problems you discover. It puts you in the diver’s seat of your life and help you manage stress more effectively.

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

After taking a good hard look at your finances and discovering WHERE your money is going, start to think of the HOW and the WHY. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Do I purchase expensive items when a less expensive one will do?
  • Am I spending on vacations when I don’t even have an emergency fund?
  • When I go out with friends am I spending more to look cool or together?
  • Am I mindful of my budget when spending on non-essentials?
  • Would being able to save money give me peace of mind?
  • Am I engaging in mindless spending?
  • Do I use money as a way to address emotional pain?

Taking a good, hard, non-judgmental look at how you spend your money can help you make meaningful change that brings your financial stress levels down. And by all means be honest with yourself. You can’t make meaningful change if you don’t honestly assess your finances.

Financial bottom line

After tallying your income and expenses separately. Simply subtract the total of your expenses from your income. This tells you your bottom line and it can be helpful to know how much (or little) you have to work with.

Total Income Minus Total Expenses Equals Discretionary Income

Discretionary income is the income you get to do with as you want. Buy lattes and/or expensive shoes. But also keep in mind your goals. Do you want to take a big vacation? If so perhaps you put a percentage of your discretionary income into savings.

Notice that I have listed savings as an essential expense. Having at least 6 months or more of income in savings in the event of an emergency will also help your stress levels.

How are finances connected to stress?

One topic I hear about over and over again in my practice is money. It does not matter how much money you have coming in if you have poor money management skills you can suffer as much (or more) than someone who has very little money coming in. I hear about money related stress from people from widely differing incomes. It all comes down to how you manage those funds. Taking control of your spending by composing a budget and looking at your spending is key.

Don’t forget that this process can be used in other areas of life as well. Review eating, sleeping, and exercise.

Tell me what you think in the comment section.

Thanks for dropping by and have a great day. ~Lynda

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