It’s the time of the year when money seems to be disappearing faster than ever from our accounts. Between travel, wedding-season-registries-we’re-obligated-to-buy-from, going out on weekend nights for a few drinks (or an all-nighter), or any of the other many ways one can enjoy the spring and summer, things can rack up pretty quickly.
So, when the numbers in your bank account are smaller than your shoe size and that terrifying number in red just keeps going up, what do you do? Try these steps to battle back against the stressors of financial strain.
Lay it Out: Organize and Budget
Put all cards on the table, so to speak. One of the most nerve-wracking parts of finances is their ability to seem like they are multiplying everywhere. It can sometimes be scary just confronting the issue and sitting down to figure out exactly what you have and what you owe. But often this is the most important thing you can do to combat financial stress. Sit down, organize all your finances, and create a budget. To get really organized consider putting everything into a spreadsheet so you can track them in real time.
Be Honest and Realistic: Avoid Pessimism
It’s okay to have financial trouble. Most (if not all) people experience financial stress and strain (whether they say so or not) at some point in their life. It’s important to remember that regardless of your financial situation there are many options out there to help. That being said, it’s also vital to be realistic. If you’ve amassed a large sum of debt it’s probably not a good idea to spend loads of money on things you don’t absolutely need.
Baby Steps With Repaying Debt
Many of us come from an era of “pay back what you owe” and that can often feel like an immediate command. Nobody likes feeling as if they have a massive number of money they owe hanging over their head. This can sometimes lead to us trying to pay off our debts so quickly that we end up cash-poor or drastically affecting our quality of living. Baby steps: pay what you can based on a set budget and accept that it may take longer to pay off your debts than what you expected.
This is a big one. You wouldn’t (shouldn’t…) try to fix your own arm if it’s broken. Instead, you go to a qualified doctor who has been trained to do this the right way. The same thing applies to finances. If you’re at a point where you feel lost or as if you’ve accumulated so much debt that it’s overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek out help. Most financing professionals offer initial interviews that allow you to discuss your financial situation without charge. Additionally, your bank and/or credit card company(s) often have services for financial advising as well. After all, they want to ensure your success as much as you do.
Remember: It’s Okay to be Happy
This is probably the hardest step of all: remembering to live your life. Financial stress can feel cause anxiety and even depression under the right circumstances. Both of which will only hinder a person’s ability to be financially stable. Rather than beat yourself up or place such a restrictive budget upon yourself that you’re no longer able to enjoy things you once loved, find places where you can “trim the fat”. Weigh the things you love to do against costly things that you might not need in your life. If you’re an avid movie-goer and that’s a worthy expense for you, don’t necessarily cut movie-going altogether. Instead, set a certain amount for yourself and find other activities you might not enjoy as much to budget out. No longer doing the things you love isn’t the answer to a successful life or stable financial situation. Additionally, it’s one of the most common factors as to why people have trouble sticking to a budget.
Financial hardship can feel debilitating and even embarrassing at times. But facing it head-on, asking for help in the right way, and budgeting wisely can make a burdensome load feel a lot lighter.