Reduce Financial Stress with Mindful and Practical Advice
You check your bank balance. You post payment to a bill. You have obligations and commitments to things that mean debits every month. You are stressed and fed up because it seems that no matter what you do, you can’t keep up.
You are not alone. In fact, almost 75% of Americans are experiencing stress at least some of the time and nearly 25% are experiencing intense financial stress according to an American Psychological Association study.
With higher financial stress come health implications. According to a report called “Paying with Our Health”, lower income Americans disclosed that their financial stress is on a scale 1 to 10, is an 8. They reported that they skipped going to see a doctor due to financial pressures thus preventing them to live a much healthier lifestyle.
Those very same behaviors lead to a very unhealthy lifestyle. Stress is your body’s way of answering to any kind of threat or demand. The effects of being super stressed leads to depression, anxiety, pain, sleep problems, thinking and memory problems, weight problems, and heart disease. Add financial burdens to the mix and you are lead to stress overload.
Before you succumb to financial stress, take a deep breath! Below, I provided some practical advice and tips to put into motion so that you can be mindful and breathe a little easier the next time you open your wallet!
I like to stay organized. That is why it should come as no surprise that I love to formulate project timelines. Obsessive over details? Perhaps. But, I can say that taking the time to do it has allow me to fall back on expenses I normally would have indulge in like unnecessary spa treatment add-ons.
I set budgets on all my expenses and I am pretty reasonable to delineate on things I would like to do versus things that are indulgent. I recommend setting up a realistic budget on every of your life. This means doing the breakdown on all your possible activities like the breakfast at a restaurant and an impromptu shopping adventure. This way, you can set aside what I call “baby accounts”.
Baby account is concept where you divide your fund into smaller portions and designate them for that specific expense. This can include: dining, shopping, unplanned activities, transportation, etc. Suppose you don’t know what much you will spend, well let’s look at an example shall we?
Example: I normally spend $1.89 for a medium-sized black coffee at a local coffee shop and I need a cup everyday to start my morning. I will be on a business trip for a week. That is approximately $13.23 without taxes. Knowing this information, I will set aside about $20 to cover my expense. A bit extra just in case one cup doesn’t do it for me.
In this example, I understand my black coffee habit exists and it comes with a price tag. Next, I hypothetically can say that a cup a joe could cost be anywhere between USD $1 to $3 and I calculated that against the duration of my trip.
Now, there are instances where a latte could cost me extra but I’m a simple woman and I don’t need the extra fanciness. In fact, a touch of almond milk at times will do just fine.
The key point is to first be aware of your spending habits, think mindfully and proceed.
Check Your Finances
I like agenda planners with the big calendar spaces in them so I can jot down due dates. Before you look at me weird, I am going to give the best financial advice that goes out the door a lot of times: sign up for auto-pay.
After you budget all the possible expenses for the month, you will need to ensure that your day-to-day bills are covered. This includes like your usual credit card bill payments, utilities bill, rent or mortgage, etc.
With the auto-pay feature, you won’t have to worry about having to access the internet to make a payment. So cover your bases and if you choose not to sign up for autopay, pay your bills well in advance and more specifically on the days where you’ll be away. This is where that agenda planner will come in handy.
It is so easy to get caught up with life's add-ons like that new outfit, champagne and sunset experience or the last minute road trip. So before you get romanticize by the mere sounds of champagne fizzes and the sweet colors of the sunset in your fitted bodysuit, be realistic and highly selective about how you spend your hard earned dollar.
I suggest taking the time to write the pros and cons of that item you desire to buy. Then, reflect on whether this is something you truly what to spend money on. Upon reflection, you will realize that may be it is best that to make the monetary commitment and spend the money elsewhere, wisely.
I Swipe Not
Try to avoid a credit card, if you have to. I recommend just having one or two without the intention of using it and declare them only for emergencies. I cannot stress this enough. Mostly due to the fact that making a transaction comes with a pricey interest fee in addition to your purchase.
This also goes back to previous recommendation about baby accounts. Set aside cash for those moments where you spot a souvenir on vacation that you must have because it will remind you about how you had to brave the snow through that near-death mountain hiking excursion. You’ll remember me and the baby.
It’s Not That Serious
Through all that planning, double checking, and budgeting- give yourself real credit and enjoy time away from the spending in the daily chaos. Commit to planning ahead so you come out winning and in good health!
CNBC. Three-quarters of Americans are stressed about this. Personal Finance.
HelpGuide.org. Stress signs, symptoms, Signs. Improving your ability to Handle stress.