Canadians are worried about their money — to the point of physical and mental distress. If you’re one of the 40% of Canadians that say money is their greatest source of stress or the 44% that live pay check to pay check, you know what it feels like to lose sleep over your money.
We worry that the increasing cost of living will prevent us from saving for retirement. We stress about the hundreds each month that goes to debt repayment leaving us with no cushion for life’s emergencies. We stress about when we’ll actually be able to follow simple financial advice like paying ourselves first.
A lot of us are finding it harder to keep up with the money demands of everyday life.
If you’re feeling stressed about your finances, or simply talking about money makes you want to rip your hair out, there is good news. You can change your money mindset and put yourself back in control of your financial situation. It’s time to take the fear out of money and put the focus back on you controlling your money, banish the shame and guilt, and finally get some sleep.
How To Get Past Financial Stress and Start Thriving
1. What can you change?
If you’re feeling stressed about your money situation, it may be time to take a look at what needs to change. If you’re having a hard time paying the bills, you could have a spending problem, an income problem, or a bit of both.
If you have a spending problem, it may be time to seek advice about how to overcome your addiction or why you’re unhappy. You may want to go so far as getting rid of credit cards and getting a debt consolidation loan to make things more manageable to pay back. And to help from digging into deeper debt.
If you know you need to earn more, maybe it’s time to consider heading back to school, taking some online training, or searching for a higher paying job.
Change is never easy but staying stuck and stressed is much worse. Try making small changes at first before you make any major ones. That way, you’ll ease yourself into positive changes without adding extra stress.
2. Focus on what’s going right
Us humans have an incredible knack for focusing on lack and what’s going wrong in our lives. The unfortunate side effect? You’ll keep yourself in a negative state of mind. It’s like the old adage, “What you think you become. What you believe you achieve.”
By focusing on what’s going right, no matter how small it is, you’ll begin to turn your negative thoughts into positive ones.
I get it, you’re deep in debt, and maybe living pay check to pay check, so it’s hard to focus on much else.
Here’s the thing…
It’s a proven fact that gratitude is a stress reliever. It makes you more patient when making important financial decisions and cultivates contentment. A simple gratitude exercise can foster self-control and open up the possibilities for reducing impulse buying and insufficient savings.
3. Get in the know when it comes to your finances
What’s even more stressful than a bad financial situation? Not knowing where you stand financially! If you’ve been avoiding looking at your bank account and credit card balances, it’s time to figure out exactly where you could be improving.
A great place to start is by checking your credit score and report with Borrowell. Your credit score is an important indicator of your financial health and is used by banks and lenders to assess your creditworthiness – so it’s something you should be paying attention to. Your credit report is also important to check often because it can give you insight into why your score is the way it is.
Get My Free Credit Score!
4. Shut down financial shame and guilt
Money stress leads to powerlessness and deep feelings of shame. When we feel we’re not in control of our money situation, we feel ashamed and guilty. Financial mishaps can leave us feeling depressed and ashamed.
When we hide our financial struggles from loved ones or a partner we can sink deep into shame and guilt.
Isolating ourselves can lead to feelings of deep despair or depression and more money mishaps.
Shut down financial shame and guilt by having frank discussions with family or a partner and create a plan of action together. By having open conversations about money challenges, you’re more likely to seek help, create an actionable plan and feel like you’re not isolated and struggling alone.
5. Make every dollar work for you
Do you have every dollar you earn working hard for you? You can relieve stress and take back control of your money by making every dollar you earn work hard. A lot of money stress comes from not knowing how much money is coming in and going out.
Doing a few simple things can help relieve stress and get your money working for you:
Create a budget
Track your income AND your spending
Start an emergency fund and regularly contribute (if you have debt, aim for $1000, when you’re debt-free, aim for 6 months of living expenses)
6. Educate yourself
Learning cultivates confidence. By learning about what you fear most about your finances, you’ll build the knowledge and confidence to make better decisions with your money.
Calm your fears and grow your confidence by educating yourself on what you’re worried about most:
How to earn more
Steps to pay off debt
Making progress toward long-term and short-term financial goals: take a course on managing your finances and budgeting
Achieving financial freedom: research retirement savings options
Speak to a financial advisor (for savings) or counsellor (for debt solutions)
By taking the time to educate yourself about money, you’ll feel empowered about your money situation. It’ll stop being another stressful thing to deal with in life and become something you can take control of.
7. Stop comparing yourself to others
Every day Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram show us how seemingly perfect everyone else’s life is. We receive regular updates of what our network has bought, or where they’ve travelled, throwing us into full-on jealousy mode.
Instead of figuring out our own idea of what success looks like and using that to guide us, we compare ourselves to others to figure out if we’re successful or not. But constantly trying to live up to another person’s idea of success leaves us feeling depressed and financially stressed. It’s not a healthy way to live.
The next time you’re scrolling and comparing, remember this:
Personal finance is precisely that – personal. It’s unique to everyone. You have no idea how much or how little your friends make, or how much debt they have. Remember that appearances are deceiving. Your friends’ so-called success could be care of credit cards and lines of credit.
You only see the highlight reel online; you never see the tears, stress, or worry.
Instead of trying to live up to other people’s idea of success, create your own benchmark for success and financial goals so you can feel in control of your money instead of on edge.
In the end, be you. Don’t try to be somebody else. Living up to other’s expectations always ends in heartbreak, not happiness.
And if you’re still stressed out and playing the comparing game, take a break from social media.
In the end…
Worrying solves very little. Losing sleep won’t help you pay back debt, build an emergency fund, or save for retirement. Instead, take the energy you put into worrying and use it to push past your fears, get educated about your money and step confidently toward financial prosperity. You’ve got this!