Money can do a lot for people—boost feelings of success, security, freedom—but it’s also the source of much tension in life and relationships.
In a recent survey by the Pulse of Asia, nearly 42% of Filipinos reported experiencing elevated stress, anxiety, and depression due to COVID-19. 64% of them agree that financial constraints will make it challenging to improve their health and wellness in 2021.
Financial stress is a common issue in the Philippines. It can result from financial instability stemming from low income, rising expenses, high debt levels, and more.
Stressing about money can harm your overall health. And if you’re not physically and mentally healthy, the problem will only worsen since you will lose the capacity to overcome your financial issues.
Following these five (5) simple strategies can help reduce your financial burden. Follow these steps to start living a comfortable and happier life knowing that you have a plan of action that can resolve your worries.
How to Handle Financial Stress
1. Tackle the source of money-related stress
Understanding the cause or origin of your money-related stress is the first step in addressing and resolving the issue. There are multiple reasons why people experience financial stress, and pinpointing the root of the problem will help you devise a plan to better your situation.
If the issue stems from low income or rising expenses, create a budget plan designed for you to live within your means. If high debt levels cause money-related stress, then make a financial goal to help eliminate your debt or pay the interest on time.
Make a rough estimate of Your budget
The first step in handling your stress about money is creating at least a basic plan for dealing with it. Determine an amount you can spend in each major category of expenses.
Notice: It’s not difficult to create a budget. It’s the hard part about sticking to it. It’ll be harder to stick with your plan if you set unrealistic expectations.
It is essential to make an accurate assessment of your income and expenses when creating your budget. Spend some time going through your bank and credit statements to review your monthly fees.
It takes willpower to stick to a budget. You can’t afford to overspend on a “nice-to-have” expense if you feel tempted. You can break this mental habit by distracting yourself from it and forgetting about it. Remember why you need to be more focused and continue moving forward.
After you have cut down on your expenses and found ways to increase your income, you will need some extra cash. It can be used to ease your financial woes and manage your stress.
List all your expenses
One of the alternative solutions is listing all your expenses. Instead of creating a strict budget plan, you can opt to create a list of all your spendings instead. By seeing where your money is going, you will set your priorities and control your expenses.
Begin by listing all your monthly expenses. Next, categorize them into fixed or variable.
Fixed expenses are the ones that are hard to reduce in the short term. They include things like your car payment, insurance, or rent. Variable expenses are expenses you can easily control and modify, such as entertainment or groceries.
You’ll notice that not all expenses can be classified as fixed or variable when you categorize them. This is because your circumstances will determine their classification.
Gasoline is an example of a fixed expense if you drive to work. If you use public transport to get to work, gas will be a more variable expense.
Pay attention to variable expenses. Examine each item.
- Identify your non-essential expenses.
- Take the final decision: Which ones can you eliminate?
- Reduce those expenses that you cannot eliminate
- Find cheaper options for variable costs.
increase your income
Increasing your income is the most proactive way that can help you get out of the predicament faster.
You’ve eliminated expenses, but your income is still inadequate. Now what?
- Find a side hustle. If your primary job isn’t enough, you can find plenty of ways to make extra money, even from home.
- Extend your work hours. If you’re paid hourly, work for extra hours, and whenever possible.
- Find a higher-paying job. Make sure you’re being paid competitively. If you aren’t, look elsewhere.
- Sell spare items. Selling old clothes won’t increase your monthly income, but it’s a fast way to help you raise cash.
- Downsize. Consider moving to a more affordable place if you rent your home. It depends on your financial situation.
2. Accept that change is a fact of life
It’s not unusual to feel stressed when your money isn’t safe. It’s part of everyday life.
But the sooner you accept that change is a part of life, the easier it is for you to let go of the money-related stress that’s weighing on your shoulder. Loving an investment is inevitable, especially if it’s a home that you and your family have enjoyed for years.
However, if that home, or any investment for that matter, is costing you more money than you can afford, then it’s time to let it go.
Accept that life is unpredictable and be gentle with yourself. This might seem difficult to accept right now, especially if your finances are in crisis or you’re experiencing emotional rollercoasters.
Take a deep breath. It’s possible that whatever is ailing you has happened before to others, and they have survived. Don’t dwell on the things you can’t change. Stress will not be reduced by reliving past events and picturing what could have been.
It is vital to focus now on what you can do to reduce your money worries. You have the power to make a change in your current financial situation.
Your mind is incredibly powerful
Break your negative mental pattern and believe you will come out on top of your current circumstance. Your attitude plays a crucial role in changing your current events.
- Focus on the fact that your current challenge will come to pass.
- Visualize yourself overcoming your recent troubles
- Believe you’ll find the right people and resources to help you achieve your goals.
This book can help you understand and change your negative thought patterns.
Write out your financial problems
Many people only become aware of their financial stress when they write down all of their worries.
If something was already bothering you, write it down so that it can be viewed from a distance. Writing things down can help clarify what you’re thinking help focus on achievable goals.
Looking for the best journal to buy for 2022? Shop here.
3. Develop a sense of control
Taking control of your money-related issues can dramatically reduce your financial stress.
Instead of worrying about your financial problem, focus on calming your fears and staying positive. These are the best things that you can do to develop a sense of control that will curb your financial anxiety and help you resolve the issue entirely.
Transforming your mindset will go a long way towards lowering your stress. Avoid procrastination and keep engaged with your goal.
Imagine being in control
To cope with stress, here’s a simple mental exercise.
Think of a skill or activity that you’re great at. Now, remember the feeling of a certain time when you performed that activity well. This activity can help you build up your confidence muscles when encountering a stressful situation.
Being in control can help you gain the courage you need to overcome your current struggles.
Change your Narrative
Another helpful mental exercise is to address yourself in the third person as you deal with your roots of stress.
Doing this creates some distance between you and your financial burden and helps you think with more compassion.
Imagine, if your friend is going through your current struggle, what would you recommend she does? Surely, you will find some encouraging words.
Your tone would be constructive, and you’d try to provide the advice you thought helpful. Similarly, when dealing with stressful circumstances, address yourself by your first name and in a positive, can-do tone.
4. Find alternatives to your financial stress
Following a strict budget is a great solution that can help reduce financial stress. However, this solution may not work for everyone since it requires a lot of work, making you feel deprived.
Fortunately, there are a few alternative solutions to your financial stress which can be more attainable for your situation.
Exercise As a Stress Reliever
Regular exercise is another way to deal with stress related to money. According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercise can act as a stress reliever. Your brain releases endorphins, dopamine, and other feel-good chemicals when you exercise.
You can go for a run, do yoga at home, or try other exercises that get your body moving. You will find it enjoyable if you choose an activity you enjoy. You’ll feel less stressed and more relaxed, which will help you sleep better. Exercise has many health benefits.
Go to your doctor if you haven’t exercised for a while or have any other health concerns. It would be best if you built your stamina gradually, but not too slowly.
If you can fit it into your daily life, you’ll be more likely to stick with your exercise program. This will help you stay persistent with your workouts. To keep yourself motivated and engaged, exercise with your friends or colleagues.
5. Realign Your Relationship With Money
Build an emergency fund
Unforeseen circumstances are part of life and show up when least expected. It’s best to meet them with the cash you’ve laid aside in an emergency fund rather than borrowing from family or friends.
Here are some tips for building an emergency fund:
- Start now. There’s no better time to start creating your savings than today. Add protection to your budget and get moving in the right direction.
- Any amount will do. It doesn’t matter if it’s just Php1000 a month; what’s important is that you make saving a habit.
- Don’t forget to set a goal. Review past expenses that caused you financial hardship. Set a savings goal, never to make that happen again.
- Repeat. You can never have too much in savings. Once you reach your initial savings goal, increase the amount and keep this financially healthy habit going.
Walk away from social pressures
Social pressures to spend may provide people with gratification today, but it comes at the expense of their financial future. It’s behavior-driven in part by the emotional meaning they give to money.
That’s why online purchases are so alluring and tempting. Many people want to feel good now even if they don’t have money, and they regret increasing their debt load later on.
It’s best to stay away. Your net worth or perceived net worth is not your self-worth.
Frugal living does not mean living cheaply. It is about realigning your relationship to money and becoming the master of your finances.
Frugal people think about how they can get more out of what they already have. They are secure with themselves and don’t wish they had more things.
Developing a frugal mentality won’t happen overnight, but you can begin now to nurture it. Choose a lifestyle that allows you to live within your means.
Unexpected events are inevitable. However, you have the option to choose how you respond. Although some stress is beneficial, excessive stress can cause problems in your health and negatively impact your quality of life.
You can find motivation by remembering that it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the number of things you need to change. You can remind yourself of all the small steps you have taken towards a better financial future, as well as the things that you have already done. This will make your new life feel as natural as the one you had before.
Take care not to get too frustrated if things don’t go according to plan. Financial difficulties and tough times are never easy. You will get there by taking the time to adjust, reduce, and rebuild, but you are moving in the right direction.
Remember, you have the power to make things better.