Easing Your Money Stress

money stress

Don’t Let Your Mind Get Away From You!

When it comes to money stress, one of the most important things to remember is that not every thought that comes into your mind is true.

You look at your bank account, see that it’s lower than you expected, and think “What a failure” – Not true! We all too often got caught up in the emotional tailspin of financial fears.

Remember that sometimes our thoughts get away from us and can’t be trusted, so it’s important to always take a step back and remind yourself about what’s true, what’s logical, and what’s healthy.

money stress

Thinking Trap #1: Personalizing or Externalizing

What It Is: When a financial problem arises, you either think that it’s completely due to something that you did (personalizing), or you blame everyone around you (externalizing) instead of taking responsibility yourself.

For example, if you were to lose out on a promotion at work, you might be tempted to attribute that to your own weaknesses or solely to the unique talents of the person who got the gig. According to Shatté, these are extreme ways to think about the event. Not to sound like Goldilocks, but this all-or-nothing approach isn’t usually accurate—and you don’t always have a window into why the decision went the way it did, so don’t form conclusions without accurate data.

How to Stop: If you tend to personalize, says Shatté, it’s also easy to “catastrophize” the situation. You know what that looks like: “I always blow opportunities.” “I’ll never get ahead.”

However, one rejection doesn’t mean you’re never going to be successful. First, ask yourself if you’re blowing this into a bigger deal than this is, and if you’re doing some extreme self-blaming, ask yourself what you’d tell a friend who had this happen to him.

Admit to yourself that you can’t know that it was “all your fault”—or even a direct result of something you’ve done. “What did others do to contribute to this?” is another question Shatté recommends. Maybe there was a purely political reason someone else got the promotion instead.

If you tend to externalize, on the other hand, use the opposite strategy. Ask yourself: “What might I have done to contribute to this?” It can be hard info to look at, so writing it down may be helpful. Also try approaching the question from the perspective of someone else (say, your boss), and see what comes up. For best results, leave your list alone for a couple of days and come back to it in a couple of days when you can be more objective.
– via Forbes

Emotions, Meet Facts

While you’re getting your thought life into control, you can also try a logical, fact- and action-based approach to curb money stress and get your balance back.

Problem-Focused Approaches

Regardless of why you got into debt in the first place, there are a number of things you can do to make your debt more manageable:

1. Seek the help of a professional. You’re probably thinking, “If I don’t have any money, how can I afford to pay a professional?” Rest assured, a lot of professionals offer free consultations or reduced/sliding rates for their services. Just type “debt services” or “debt consolidation” into Google and see what comes up. Just make sure the company seems reputable.

2. Plan. Make concrete, yet achievable, goals for yourself to get out of debt. If you don’t know where to start, talk to a financially savvy friend or financial advisor.

3. Create a budget. The first step is to figure out what you actually spend your money on over the course of a week. You might be surprised at what you can cut out. For example, do you really need to eat out every day, or can you save money by taking your lunch to work? Do you really need premium cable or satellite TV? If you’ve never done a budget before, there are a number of software programs and apps available for low or no cost to get you started. If you need more ideas, check out these debt-reduction tips.

4. Clip coupons and stock up on bulk and sale items. It may seem like a simple strategy, but there are countless ways to save significantly on your weekly grocery bill. Sure, you may have to try a different brand, but every penny counts when it comes to savings and debt reduction. Plus, you might even find that you like the new brand better.

5. Learn how to cook. Americans spend nearly $400 billion a year on eating out. It’s usually much cheaper to buy and cook your own meals. Don’t know where to start? Go to the library and check out a cookbook or go to YouTube and watch cooking demos. Culinary adventures await!

6. Shop at secondhand stores. You can usually find good quality, slightly worn (and sometimes even brand new) clothes at Goodwill, the Salvation Army and other secondhand or consignment stores. Since Americans spend nearly $200 billion a year on apparel (not including jewelry), buying used clothes can add up to significant savings.

7. Go green. Find ways you can save on household expenses.

8. Leave your credit cards at home and pay in cash. It’s much easier to avoid temptation and racking up even more debt if you leave the credit cards at home. “Don’t spend what you don’t have” should be your motto for a while.
– via The Huffington Post

How do you get money stress under control?

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