According to the Mental health Foundation study in 2018; ‘“74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope“.
And for many people in the UK, money worries are regular source of this pain.
Stress over your finances can keep you up at night, and even cause a decline in your physical and mental health ~ not cute!
Money is not everything, but money management is so important to your overall health. When you feel on top of your finances, you will feel lighter and happier. Having an understanding of your financial circumstances, having a clear plan of action and remaining positive are all key to reducing financial concerns.
Here are some clear steps you can take to help reduce your financial stress:
Identify the stress points
You need to first identify exactly what is causing this stress. This will be different for everyone; that is why it is called ‘personal finance‘. Get out a pen and paper and write down the top 2 or 3 money-related stressors in your life right now.
- Are you worried that on your current salary you can’t afford your bills, or your lifestyle?
- Do you have credit card or loan debt, and you are struggling to keep up with repayments?
- Is it the fear of the unknown e.g. worrying you might lose your job or worrying about the economy in general?
- Maybe it is the realisation you are an adult now and you don’t have savings, an emergency fund or a retirement plan?
Be honest with yourself
There is a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and he discusses the ‘Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern’. IT IS LIFE CHANGING
It is so helpful to apply this to any stressful or worrying situation you find yourself in. The overall concept is; if something is in your ‘circle of concern’, then it is something you do not have control over. If something is in your ‘circle of influence’, then you do have control over it and can do something to change it with an aim to remove your worries. That is a super quick overview so if you want to learn more about it, you can watch this YouTube video that explains.
Now you have identified what the concerns you have in step 1, it is time to get down to the ugly… You need to determine if the stress us something in your ‘circle of concern’ or your ‘circle of influence’. Is the stress being caused by your actions?
- Do you have an unhealthy relationship with spending causing you to sabotage your financial goals, or a spending habit that needs to be addressed?
- Are you forgetting or choosing not to make a monthly budget because you think are convinced it wont work for you?
- Are you talking negatively about money or your financial situation?
- Or is it something out of your control, e.g. there is a pandemic occurring and the uncertainty around everything – you can download my free ‘how to handle money during uncertain times’ guidebook here.
Maybe it is none of the above, but get really honest with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you realise that perhaps you are playing a part in your stress, we all do it.
The quicker you can identify the cause of the stress, the quicker you can make a change and you will feel empowered by knowing you now taking control of your life.
Make a tangible plan and take small steps
We have all been there… it is New Years Day, you have set yourself the same New Years Resolutions as you did last year; to learn French, to not get ANY take-aways, all year, ‘get bikini body ready’, with an intention to workout everyday. But after 2 weeks of intense exercise and strict dieting, repeating ‘Bonjour’ to yourself in the mirror and a tough week at work: you burnout, you binge, you get a Chinese takeaway and you subconsciously scrap all resolutions until next year.
We all know how ineffective those methods can be.
So, once you have identified what your financial stress points are and what is causing them, you can then make a tangible plan to tackle the problem. The plan needs to be realistic. The last thing you want to do is set a goal and make a plan so unachievable that you are left feeling overwhelmed and end up feeling worse.
- If you are in debt, create yourself a debt management plan, listing out all your debts and making a plan on how to effectively pay them down (the Avalanche method or Snowball method are both extremely useful debt clearing methods)
- If you are struggling to save, create yourself a clear monthly budget and consider setting up automatic payments on payday into your savings to pay yourself first
- If you are dissatisfied your income, find ways to work with what you have got, and then make a plan on how you can increase your income with a side hustle or maybe a asking for a payrise
Determine what you could genuinely achieve, and over what time period and then make a promise to yourself that you will take small steps every day towards your goal.
Remain positive – mindset is everything!
Whatever is causing you stress, your mindset towards the situation will have a huge impact on how you handle it. Having a negative money mindset could be impacting your ability to create financial freedom within your life. Our minds are more powerful than we realise!
- Believe in your capabilities to get out of debt or build your savings
- Tell yourself that the financial goals you choose to set, you will hit
- Remind yourself on a daily basis that you are good with money and that you can achieve financial freedom
It might seem hard to have a positive mindset during a period of stress or crisis, but you can use general stress-relieving methods such as meditation (using the Calm app) or taking a nice long bath, getting an early night sleep, eating well and exercise to help bring you into a state where you feel you can start to think positively.
Once you understand what is stressing you out and a way to fix it, you will automatically feel 10x better, just for knowing what you are working with.
You can read my blog here on how to change a negative money mindset
Track your progress
This one is important because if you are in debt, or trying to reach a goal that is going to take a long time to hit… you need tools to keep you motivated and on track!
You need to track your progress no matter how big or small. Seeing the changes that YOU are making to your own financial situation will not only alleviate stress and keep you motivated, it will make you feel empowered!
- Make a spreadsheet and track how much you save each monitor how much debt you are paying down
- If you are making changes to your mindset or spending habits, use a journal and write down daily or weekly highlights and changes you are making
- Build a log of what you are doing, so that if or when you feel demotivated, you can go back over and see where you started and where you are now!
Also try not to reward your mini achievements by spending money if it does not align with your financial goals e.g.if you are trying really hard to pay down debt and you pay off £100 from a credit card, do not then treat yourself to a £100 pair of trainers. It is counter-intuitive. I am not saying never treat yourself or spend money on yourself, but do not undo your hard work with ”treat yourself’ purchases that are not in your budget.
Ask for help
Finally, if you are really struggling there are some amazing online resources and charitable organisations that can help.
Talk to friends and family about your worries, join online communities and connect with other people on the same journey as you or ask for professional help
If you are in unmanageable debt, get in contact with StepChange They are the UK’s leading debt charity to get expert debt advice and fee-free debt management to help you tackle your debts.
If you want help with your mindset, or spending habits, or reaching your savings goals, if you have been trying to make changes but you cannot see any concrete results, then consider getting help from a financial coach. Sometimes you need outside help to support the changes you want to make. Just in the same way you would consider hiring a personal trainer to help with your fitness goals, getting a money coach is the same.
I offer one-to-one consulting and money mindset coaching course and you can schedule a free 30 min money chat with me via this link
Hopefully these help you reduce your stress and you can work towards becoming financially free