How to deal with financial stress during trying times. See the 6 things you can do today.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans had to face dire financial situations. Business shutdowns, supply shortages, lockdowns, and lay-offs took away many peoples’ income, employment, social life, and savings. Even as the U.S. moves toward recovery, millions of people are enduring an incredible amount of financial stress.
What Causes Financial Stress?
Some common causes of financial stress are back rent, overdue mortgages, mounting debt, uncollected rent, and unforeseen expenses. Plus, most financial obligations have deadlines that may seem impossible to meet. If you are experiencing this type of financial situation, you may feel overwhelmed by the stress.
Financial stress and mental health may also reveal itself in some common symptoms.
How to Deal with Financial Stress
Fortunately, there are effective ways to manage stress and increase your financial wellness. Here are six methods that you can use to help you relieve financial anxiety.
1. Start with Completing Controllable Financial Tasks
Financial stress can give you a sense of hopelessness and frustration. By focusing on the things you can control, you can start making progress and regain a sense of normalcy as you figure out how to organize your finances. For example, you can begin controlling your expenses by…
• Unsubscribing to premium TV channels
• Cutting back on junk food purchases and other non-essential grocery purchases
• Resisting the urge to indulge in retail therapy
• Limiting the times you dine out at restaurants and bars
• Reducing household gas and electric use during peak hours (some utility companies give you rebates for doing so)
• Cutting down transportation costs by walking for short trips and using rideshare for work commutes.
Besides providing financial stress relief, completing these doable financial moves can provide you with more money to handle the bigger issues. And crossing off some tasks may help you get into a good money mindset.
2. Help Relieve Financial Stress by Earning Extra Cash and Income
Gig jobs are an excellent way to generate more cash flow. If you want to work from home, there are plenty of online gig job opportunities that allow you to adjust your work hours to your needs. You can find these opportunities on job sites like flexjobs, Indeed.com, and Linkedin.com.
For work outside your home, you can apply for passenger or delivery driving jobs at Uber, Lyft, UberEats, Doordash, and Grubhub. These gig driving jobs also offer flexible work hours, and the payment schedules are generally very accommodating.
If you have old or seldom-used possessions, you can make extra money by selling them on eBay, Craigslist, or the Facebook marketplace. Also, you may consider selling other peoples’ goods on these platforms for a commission. The added cash flow from any of these methods can take some of the stress off of your financial situation.
3. Develop a Bill Paying Strategy
Creating a solid bill-paying strategy can help you deal with the time management aspect of your financial obligations. As part of the plan, you can tactfully arrange your bill-paying schedule to reduce as much financial stress as you can. Here are suggestions that will help you build your strategy.
Because credit-related payments like credit cards, car payments, mortgages, and student loans generally have the shortest payment window, you should try to cover them first. Protecting your credit rating will help you in the short and long run. If you can, you should pay off as much debt as possible.
Other bills like utilities, cable, phone, and subscription services generally have longer grace periods, and a late payment won't impact your credit rating. So, these bills can be a second priority. Also, during tight times, you may consider temporarily canceling non-essential services like bottled water delivery, magazine subscriptions, and club memberships.
4. Communicate with Your Lenders
Because of these financially trying times, you will most likely find that lenders and billers are willing to work with you to help keep your accounts in good standing.
If you have a federal student loan, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center to determine what deferment options apply to you. For instance, this program features an income-driven payment plan that adjusts for a sudden drop in wages.
5. Monitor Your Money Managing Success
To gain a better sense of control, it helps to track your financial progress by logging your daily and monthly expenses. For this reason, make sure to record your actions and results in a budget ledger, financial app, accounting program, Google Sheet, or whatever suits you. This visual record helps relieve financial stress because you can see what you’ve already accomplished and what needs to get done. You'll also be able to see where you may be able to cut or reduce some categories of spending as you create a budget percentage breakdown for your finances.
6. Start Saving Money for the Future
Should you save vs pay off debt? Enduring financial hard times gives you an appreciation of the importance of preparation. To help prevent future financial stress, you should start saving money for a money goal, such as debt repayment or your emergency fund amount, as part of your financial strategy, even if it's only $25 or $30. A good rule of thumb is the 50-30-20 rule. Then, when your financial status improves, you can start adding more to the pot.
You Can Manage Your Financial Stress During Tough Times
Essentially, developing a financial strategy with some or all of these 6 suggestions can effectively relieve your financial stress in the short and long term. It can bring order to a frustrating situation and help prepare you for a better tomorrow.
See how Monorail can help you take steps you need to accomplish your saving and spending goals.
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