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How To Deal With Money Stress

How To Deal With Money Stress

Back in 2009, at the peak of the debt crisis, a friend went through bankruptcy. His small off-license News shop closed within a matter of months. The bank got the verdict from the court ordering him to pay $1 a month.

Apart from the usual stress of dealing with bankruptcy, he went through the stress of managing his finances post-bankruptcy. It was tough for him to do it – to find new work and restart everything. Fortunately, he did it. Currently, he is running a small business, however; bankruptcy is still on his records.

Bankruptcy is a major event in anyone’s life and surely it creates stress – a lot of stress to deal with new realities appearing after declaring yourself bankrupt. However, managing money and finances in our daily life can also be the cause of stress. Money stress is a reality and the cause of major stress for most of Americans.

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There can be many reasons for this stress – not earning enough, spending more than what we earn, carrying a large amount of debt (even private small business loans taken in the shape of MCA or investor loans which are generally given on soft terms to small business owners) trigger stress.

Coping with money stress

If you are facing such a situation or someone you know is going through this, it is time to look inside and become more aware of what coping mechanisms you can develop and follow to deal with money stress.

Part of it is related to our emotional style and DNA and part of it are simply developing a system which can boost willpower and motivation to feel positive when faced with making difficult money choices.

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Here are three simple routines which can help you to cope with money stress:

1. Morning routines

I’m not a night owl! I get up around 4 am, and till 7 am I use the time as my own sacred time to contemplate, plan, review and learn new things.

If you can afford to get up at least 1 hour before your usual time, I suggest you to use that time bucket for making your money decisions for the day. Our willpower decreases as the day passes and with more to deal with during day time, it is better to make most important decisions concerning money first thing in the morning.

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Let’s say, you are planning to buy groceries today or want to order pizza later that night, it is better to decide the same in morning. It will cause less stress to make this decision early in the day.

Making monthly budgets, recording your daily expenses, checking and tallying your bank statements and even reading your credit card bills first in the morning can easily offer you an opportunity to think in a clearer manner and develop strategies to deal with various aspects of your money. To deal effectively with money stress, develop morning routines and make your important financial decisions early in the day.

2. Be a stress stopper

Another reason money creates stress in our life is because we argue about it. If you and your partnrt are both earning and have divided expenses, arguments are sure to follow. If your spouse is paying the mortgage and he or she missed a payment or two without informing you, most probably, you will end up with a heated argument.

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When faced with such a situation, you can decide who is going to back out from the argument. Carefully discuss with your spouse that if any such situation arises, either you or they have to act as a stress stopper. Or if your kids are old enough, you can ask them to interrupt and intervene. The purpose is to break the chain and stop you from stressing yourself more.

3. Meditate

If you feel that your inability to deal with money is causing you stress and putting your relationships at risk, you should give a try to meditation.

Meditation is a medically proven way of dealing with stress and if you can simply build the routine of even doing a 5 minute meditation twice a day, your ability to deal with money stress can significantly increase. By simply closing your eyes and watching your breath, you can calm your nerves and are fully aware of what to do when faced with tough money choices.

What is more important is how you build small systems and routines to follow to deal with money stress. Early morning meditation, planning for the day and developing a relationship of trust with your family or significant other can greatly reduce money stress.

Featured photo credit: American Herald via americaherald.com

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Adnan Manzoor

Data Analyst & Life Coach

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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