Finding yourself staring down the slippery slope of financial trouble is about more than money. It’s about the mind. Stress is a very real factor in dealing with debt and a lack of improvement in your finances. It’s a factor that doesn’t only make the situation feel worse. It also stops us from thinking clearly which can very well get in the way of the options that we have to tackle our issues. But there are a lot of ways to make dealing with money trouble easier on yourself.
Talk about it
The saying goes that a problem shared is a problem halved. When it comes to dealing with the household finances, that’s most certainly true when it comes to talking to the family about money. For one, they’re as dependent on the financial situation as you are. But they can also be a tremendous help. Families can help by being more considerate of the financial situation and changing their spending habits. Some might even help you in finding extra cash in their spare time. But it’s important for your emotional health, too. Rarely does bottling up a problem as serious a money trouble make it easier to cope with that trouble. If anything, keeping it a secret can be more stressful than the secret itself.
Stress can also do funny things to your memory. As crucial as you might think the right use of your money is, at the moment, your brain won’t always treat it with the same level of importance. Stress makes us forgetful, which can make us forget the very important dates on which we have to pay our bills and put money into our savings. If you’ve ever had trouble because you simply forgot such a date, you should consider automating those payments. If you can’t automate them, then simply put them all on the same, memorable dates. One system that works well is having a payment day every month on the 1st and 15th. That way, you’re not paying everything out all at once, which can sometimes be a stretch. But you’re making it a lot easier to remember by batching your due dates together.
Let creditors know if you’re in trouble
It’s easy to see why people are afraid of talking to creditors when they realise they can’t pay. However, if you talk to them early enough, creditors can turn out to be your best friends. A lot of them would rather not have to get collectors involved and chase you for your money. Your credit score is going to take a hefty hit, but creditors can offer help by re-arranging the way you pay them back. They can freeze interest or extend the timescale by which you have to pay them back, for instance.
Plan your debt approach
One of the most stressful feelings, when you’re fighting against debt, is feeling like you’re drowning and you have no idea which way to swim. The longer you procrastinate, the worse the problem gets, however. You need to spend some time to sit down and formulate a strategic approach to that debt. This means putting a budget together that gives you an achievable amount of money to put aside from each paycheque. It also means considering steps like debt consolidation and debt settlement. Rather than worrying about the worst-case scenarios, think about actionable steps you can start making right now. Once you start moving and start making steps in the right direction, it becomes a lot clearer that you can make your way out of this.
Make it easier to keep track of
Of course, sometimes stress makes it hard to properly budget and to see how much you can really put aside or how much debt you owe. But you don’t have to confuse yourself with a plethora of mathematical equations. Your smartphone is going to be your friend here. Personal finance apps can help you fully calculate how much you make in a month, as well as track all your expenses, giving you an understanding in the simplest terms of how much money you can spare. Tracking your expenses also helps you understand where you might be spending too much. Once you spot those areas of spending, it’s easy to reduce them.
Find deals online
Regardless of what you’re spending your money on, you very rarely have to pay full price for it. Going second hand on things like home purchases or clothes is always going to cost a lot less for one. The same for anything you use for entertainment. Nowadays, there are also places to buy electronics second-hand that can guarantee them being delivered to you in a good, working condition. Besides going second-hand, you should check out the many sites dedicated to spotting deals and offering voucher codes. There are sites specific to all kinds of different retail sectors. Before you buy something you believe you need, do a little research and see if you can get it below retail price. Most of the time, you’ll find that you can.
Audit your outgoings
When you’re using apps like those mentioned above to calculate your finances, make sure you set aside your expected outgoings. This means things like your bills and your subscriptions. First, trim the fat. If you have a video streaming service or online videogame network you don’t use, then cancel it. Of course, allow yourself the things you do use. Don’t cancel that TV deal if it’s a big part of your life. In the end that will only add more stress. Instead, see if you can get a better deal. There are sites that can help you find the best internet deals, the best energy deals, the best heating deals and so on and so forth. Spend a day auditing all your bills. Besides replacing them by switching providers, you can call current providers and let them know you’re thinking of switching. Many of them will work a little harder and knock some costs down to keep you as a customer.
Realise you always have options
To get back to the mental part of money stress. Hopefully, the points above stress one of the most important things you need to realise in order to reframe how you think about money. Whether it’s finding savings, making them easier to manage, or dealing with debt, you always have options. Sometimes, those options can be drastic. It might mean having to downsize your house or sell a few things you rather wouldn’t. Other times, it might mean using your free time to make money online acting as a virtual assistant. But the fact is that you can always take control of your money. Keeping that mind can help you find the ground when it feels like you’re drifting.
Telling someone who’s stressed to relax might seem like nothing more than an annoyance. But it’s important to try to have a moment to yourself where you don’t think about money and don’t think about solutions. In relaxing the body, you can relax the mind, so consider looking at techniques that can help you do that. Breathing techniques, aromatherapy, meditation. There are different options that work for different people, but it’s important to find yours and take some time to yourself occasionally.
The important thing to remember is that there’s always something you can do. As long as you’re willing to face the challenge head on, you can weather this storm. You just have to take care of yourself so that you’re yourself on the other side.