A Seven-Point Strategy for Relieving Financial Anxiety
When the economy is making life difficult for a lot of people, it’s natural to worry about your own financial stability. People can be divided into two categories: those who let worry get the best of them and allow it to ruin their lives financially, and those who take proactive measures to deal with their worries.
If you’re having a hard time financially but don’t know where to begin putting together a plan, the advice in this article can help you take the first steps.
This will help you make ends meet and relieve the stress you’re feeling, whether you’re concerned about credit card debt or, more seriously, about putting food on the table or commuting to and from work as gas costs continue to rise.
Even if you don’t personally experience a certain issue, it’s still smart to be knowledgeable about it just in case. Furthermore, it can keep these problems from compounding on top of your existing problems.
Keep Calm and Know That You Will Handle This.
You might want to take a deep breath before continuing to read this (literally). Indeed, there is hope for this circumstance. You will prevail through this difficult time. Millions of individuals can relate to what you’re going through.
You can’t make rational decisions while in a panicked mood. The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones right now is to keep a level head and relax so you can take the actions that will help you get through this difficult period.
It’s common to lose a good night’s sleep over monetary worries. With so much going on in your head, it’s possible that you won’t be as efficient at work as you’d like to be. It’s easy to lose your cool and lash out at your loved ones.
Having money concerns is already stressful enough; adding interpersonal issues is just asking for trouble. Deep breathing exercises or a relaxing bath before bed are just two examples of the many stress-reduction strategies that don’t cost a dime but can help you get to sleep and keep your cool when things become rough.
If your kids are old enough to understand, you might want to be honest with them about what’s going on without scaring them. They will likely pick up on tension; reassuring them that it isn’t their fault will go a long way toward ensuring that everyone is on board with the planned adjustments.
Have a family meeting and explain to everyone in a calm voice that you need to make some temporary adjustments to the household budget so that you can pay your bills and buy food.
Say how much you value their input into the planning process and that you’ll keep them apprised of your progress and needs as they develop. Kids want to help out and be a part of the family’s success because it takes a team to make everything go smoothly.
Assess your situation and set your priorities.
The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing it for what it is and admitting the truth about where you now stand. That means you need to take an honest look at your financial status, no matter how bleak it may appear.
Check your bank balances and see whether you are overdrawn to get a sense of where you are financial. Whether you want to know how much you owe on your credit cards and other obligations, what your minimum payments are, and if you are behind on them, you should write down the details.
You should also be familiar with the interest rate attached to any outstanding debts. Make a separate list of your overdue obligations so you can talk to the right people about getting back on track with payments.
While for some, it may not be quite this bad, for many people, the state of their finances is such that they can’t afford to keep even a small supply of food on hand. Like you would with your income and expenditures, you should compile a list of your immediate needs.
For instance, keep track of your weekly food expenses and how much money you have available by creating a detailed meal plan for the week.
Don’t forget to factor in other essentials like medical care, clothing, transportation, and food when calculating your budget. In order to plan for the following weeks and months, you need to know exactly what you have on hand and what you will need.
Refrain from Some Expenditures for the Time Being.
Stop wasting money now before it’s too late! Make sure you know and stress that this is not a permanent position before you or your loved ones start to mourn the loss of conveniences and modest luxuries.
Put it on hold until your financial situation stabilizes, and then gradually bring it back on as it is financially feasible. Review your past billing statements to identify discretionary spending.
You might think that missing an episode of your favorite show is impossible, but in reality, it is. You no longer need cable or a subscription to a streaming service to watch television.
You no longer need to stop at Starbucks on the way to work. In an emergency, you can brew your own coffee at home. This doesn’t mean you’ll never treat yourself to another Starbucks, but it does involve putting your family’s financial security ahead of your own personal preferences sometimes.
If you’re having financial difficulties due to high gas prices, you might want to consider leaving your car in the driveway and starting to take public transportation instead. Whether or not your city has a reliable public transit system is always a factor in this question.
When things are out of hand, it’s best to pack a lunch rather than leave the office for lunch, as many people do.
There are many other items that could be classified as frivolous that could be cut out of your spending plan completely. Some examples of these are getting your nails done, getting a massage, or getting your hair cut.
Changes to Your Income Strategy That Could
The next step is to evaluate your financial situation and identify any little adjustments that could lead to a drop in expenses and an increase in revenue. Let’s discuss ways to cut back on expenses as a first step.
By reviewing your bank statements and monthly budget, you can discover where most of your money has gone over the past six months. Also, you can see how a bunch of small costs can add up to a sizeable amount over time.
If you are the kind to leave the TV on for your pets while you are at work or to keep the lights on and the thermostat at 68 degrees even when you are not at home, you can make simple adjustments to reduce your outgoing duties.
In general, you should use your home appliances in a responsible manner. When you use appliances that generate heat, like the dryer or the oven, it might reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner.
Do your best to hold off using these appliances until the day’s hottest hours are over, and then do so at night. When possible, you should also adjust the temperature in your home so that it is warmer in the summer and colder in the winter.
In addition to conserving water in the home, it is important to avoid wasting precious liquid by squandering it in the garden or elsewhere. You should use water and electricity in a way that makes sense. For example, watering the yard isn’t as important as feeding your family.
It’s also possible that you could save money by reevaluating your phone plan. For example, it’s possible that you’re already taking advantage of a lot of “unlimited” benefits through your plan.
Contact the utility provider if you’ve fallen behind on payments and find out whether they offer a hardship assistance program. When folks are having trouble paying their water or power bills, these programs are designed to help.
If you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage payments, your mortgage servicer might be able to help. These are only meant to help with short-term money problems and shouldn’t be thought of as a permanent way to lower payments.
Credit card companies and other entities to whom you owe money might also be contacted for help in a time of financial need. To help you get back on your feet, many of them will temporarily suspend or cut your payments at no cost.
Again, companies will offer you some wiggle room temporarily, but you need to take care of the problem head-on so that you can pay your bills when the grace period is through.
Debt consolidation is an option worth considering if you have a substantial amount of debt. Consolidating your debt into a single monthly payment with a slightly reduced interest rate can make it easier to pay off your debt.
Once your pressing concerns have been addressed, you should start working on paying off your debt. If you are able to put food on the table, get to and from work, and take care of your health care needs, then you can focus on paying down your debt and getting out of financial distress.
The best strategy for dealing with debt is to prioritize your obligations based on the interest rates they carry. Pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, then move on to the next highest interest rate.
Even though it may feel wonderful to utilize the snowball strategy, which entails paying off the debts with the highest interest rates first, this is not the most financially prudent course of action.
Achieving financial stability begins with paying off those accumulating expenses. On the other hand, you should also start thinking about strategies to boost your earnings. You should first approach your supervisor and request a pay increase.
You should justify your request for the money and state your desired amount before you go. This may or may not work, but because so many individuals are put off by the prospect of asking for a raise, the corporation is under no pressure to provide one.
Second, if you are currently an hourly worker, you have the option of requesting more hours each week. If you’re struggling to make ends meet right now, it might be time to start picking up extra shifts that will pay you overtime.
It’s also a good idea to supplement your main income source with a second gig. If you have a regular 9-to-5 job during the week, you can earn extra money in the evenings and on the weekends by taking on online jobs.
Work offline by driving for Uber or Lyft, or delivering groceries with Instacart, Door Dash, or Uber Eats.
Freelancing is a viable option for those seeking internet employment. You could write blog posts for them, make covers for their eBooks, or be their virtual assistant and take care of boring but necessary tasks.
UpWork and Fiverr are two platforms where you can look for and post your own freelance work. You can also advertise things online as an affiliate marketer, or you can design your own information products to sell through services like Warrior Plus, JVZoo, or ClickBank.
Get by with less and save up for the big things you really want.
To that end, you can easily find suitable alternatives. Reduced spending was discussed earlier. One of the topics covered in that paper was going out to restaurants or fast food joints.
You will be making more of a sacrifice here, opting to bring your own food rather than spend money on expensive, convenient fast food. You can also use other alternatives.
You may decide, for instance, to cease paying more for name-brand items whenever possible. This includes, but is not limited to, cereal and kitty litter purchases. While you may have a soft spot for Charmin toilet paper, that doesn’t mean you should shell out the extra few bucks for each roll for the privilege of pampering yourself.
For instance, a 12-pack of Charmin is $16.99 at Albertson’s. However, a 12-roll pack of the store’s own brand of toilet paper (called Signature) costs only $12.79. It’s a $4.20 difference, and it adds up quickly if you do that with your whole shopping basket.
It’s possible to save money by changing the sort of goods you buy rather than the brand you normally buy. Some people are used to purchasing 20 pounds of Purina Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter for $11.99.
Instead, for about $6.49, you can obtain 20 pounds of Tidy Cats clay litter. This equates to a savings of $5.50 per bag. When you shop smart, you’ll quickly realize how this adds up.
To be sure, the supermarket isn’t the only place to go. Shop around before making any large purchases. You can save money in a number of different ways, such as by searching for a discount code to obtain free delivery when you order anything online, buying in bulk, or shopping locally where the store will bring the item out to your car.
The rapid rate at which children develop means that frequent purchases of new clothing are a source of stress for many families. Thrift shopping is a popular activity among today’s youth, and this includes people who are otherwise well off financially.
Local thrift stores may have gently used clothes for the whole family, or you can shop at one of the many online thrift stores that offer discounts of 85%–90% on name brands.
Major Alterations Could Be In Your Future.
Now comes the challenging part: sometimes your finances are so far out of control that no amount of incremental improvement will bring them back under control. How far it goes and how much money you can make at the moment both play a role.
You can adopt one of these four modifications if you want to make a complete overhaul and immediately alleviate a lot of the big financial stress you are currently experiencing.
If you and your family are having trouble making ends meet and food is a worry, have us stop by your local food bank so you can get the emergency supplies you need.
There are likely several food banks in your neighborhood, all of which will gladly provide you with the food you and your family need without questioning your circumstances. Check everywhere you think you might need food. This includes churches that may have a food pantry open to the public.
The second option is to apply for SNAP benefits. Even though it’s not something most people are eager to do, using a credit card can help you get the food you and your family need when money is tight.
The second option is one that is quite context-specific, so think about where you currently live. Numerous renters have experienced price increases of two, three, or even four times in recent months. If you are about to lose your current home, you might want to think about leaving as soon as possible.
It could be better, in the long run, to be able to afford the place you are staying, even if that means breaking your lease or losing your security deposit. If your family is growing, you may need to have a chat with your kids about sharing a room or reducing the amount of space you all have.
Some younger families are even moving in with their grandparents, sharing the house or even constructing a modest house or living in a camper in the backyard until they can get their financial house in order.
Miniaturizing your automobile is our third piece of advice. Since automobiles are in short supply and fetch higher prices than usual, you could potentially profit from a sale of your vehicle.
And then you can go out and get something that will serve you well but won’t be quite as plush as what you were using before. Some folks even opt for an entirely new method of transportation.
Instead of driving a car that uses a lot of gas, they could buy a motorcycle or ride a bike to and from work, as long as it is practical and, in the case of a motorcycle, doesn’t take too much time.
Carpooling with coworkers is another viable option. By sharing rides, you can save money on gas and on maintenance for your personal vehicle.
It’s possible that the last difficult choice you’ll have to make is whether or not to stay at your current job. You may like your coworkers and the atmosphere, but if the pay isn’t what you need or want, there are plenty of other companies that are desperate to fill open positions.
It’s possible that the new position you’re in is less prestigious than the one you left. But many retail chains are paying higher wages to attract and keep new workers so they can keep their stores open. This means that stocking shelves could be a better way to make money than working in an office.
You should review your financial strategy at least once a month.
Once you’ve taken these steps and the stress has gone down, it’s important to set up a regular time every four weeks to check in on your finances.
In that manner, you may assess whether or not your current spending habits can be further refined. As an added bonus, you might try to negotiate a lower interest rate with your creditors.
Make sure you’ve covered all the bases by keeping track of what needs to be looked at on your checklist. Someday you’ll be able to relax, see how much better off you are financially and start reintroducing some of the creature pleasures you’ve missed so much, but in a way that doesn’t put your future security in jeopardy.