Financial stress can stem from too much debt, not making enough money, living outside of your means, the expense of raising kids or even being married to someone who is not great with money. The list could keep going on and on. Money problems can take over your life and make you feel anxious, nervous, and unhappy. Reducing your financial worry will let you start enjoying life again. No matter what your situation is, there are ways out of it. Just knowing you have a plan in place can save you a headache or two. Here are a few things you can start doing now to tackle the stress you feel.

Identify what needs the most attention.

Getting in control of your money starts by figuring out what your problems are in the first place. Start by writing down your biggest money challenges, and then put them in order from biggest to smallest. This will give you a clearer picture of what you’re up against. Some things you might be interested in focusing on include paying off debt, building your savings, or raising your credit score. It also can be as simple as wanting to figure out what you spend your money on each month. Whatever your problems are, journal them down.

Create a budget.

To some people, the idea of creating a budget stresses them out. However, a budget is one of the best tools you have towards gaining back your financial freedom. A budget allows you to decide ahead of time where you want your money to go so that you can prioritize your most essential bills first. Though a budget, you might realize you spend more money on food and clothing than you need to. You can start restricting your allowance for those items and dedicate more towards your savings or bills. The first few months of creating a budget are the most challenging, but you will find a system that works for you. Over time, it gets easier to approve each month because you know your expenses. This reduces the overall time spent worrying about money.

Stay positive.

This is much easier said than done, but having a positive mindset will empower you to tackle your financial stress and help you stay motivated to keep going. Try not to let yourself get too bogged down by the thoughts of getting out of debt, and instead imagine the stress leaving your body every time your debt gets smaller. It is essential that you believe you can accomplish your goals.

Ask for outside help.

Many schools do not teach the basics of financial planning, leaving young adults confused about handling their money. Do not be afraid to get outside help if it all seems too confusing. There are classes you can take online for essential money management, investing, building a 401k, and more. A financial planner is also a great option if you want some individualized help. They can help you make a long-term investing and saving strategy with your current income. A financial planner will also keep your goals in mind, giving you an outline of how you can reach them. Credit counseling services are also excellent for people that are overwhelmed with their debt.

Track your progress.

Acknowledging the progress you have made will help relieve a considerable amount of financial stress. Finding positive aspects of what you have accomplished will motivate you to keep going towards your financial goals. Small steps are key. You might not be able to save $1,000 a month like you wish you could, but even saving an extra $100 a month is something to be proud of. Do not be too hard on yourself if you slip up, because unexpected expenses pop up in everyone’s life. If it happens, remind yourself how far you have gotten and get yourself back on track next month. Additionally, keep yourself honest. By tracking your progress, you can see where you overspent on nonessentials. Modify both your budget and behavior so that your goals can be reached.

Build an emergency fund.

An emergency fund is a small pile of money that is used only to cover unexpected expenses or financial emergencies. This might be something like a car crash or a medical issue. Knowing you have a back-up plan anytime something big arises will reduce a large amount of stress. It is easier to stick to your monthly budget when you know you have extra money in the bank ready to cover anything unexpected that might pop up. This fund should be at least around 1,000 dollars to start with. Once you are more financially stable, you should aim to have three months of living expenses set aside. It might seem hard at first to build this fund, but setting small amounts away each month will add up quickly. Having a yard sale or a side job might also help you get there.

Financial stress is hard, but it does not have to consume your entire life. These tips will help you find financial freedom again and get rid of the unwanted weight on your shoulders. Focus on your goals, and do not let anyone tell you that you cannot reach them. Prioritize your financial freedom.

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