Psychologists and personal financial professionals agree on one thing: People are stressed out by money. Like, really stressed.
“Money is a very important component of establishing a secure life,” Norman Anderson, CEO and executive vice president of the American Psychological Association, told CBS News in February. “When people are financially challenged, it makes sense that their stress level would go up.”
The APA’s study found that health care costs and rising cost of living were two major factors contributing to fears about money. And a new study from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards found 86 percent of people feel stressed out by money, and it’s even worse for women (89 percent) and for younger people (91 percent).
Money, or the lack of it, worries most people. But it doesn’t have to.
What stresses out people the most
Surprisingly, it’s the little things that really add up. Having debt (23 percent) and everyday expenses (21 percent) were found to be the leading causes of financial stress.
That’s concerning: It says that people are more worried about surviving on an everyday basis than they are about saving for retirement or health care or emergency expenses. If you’re using more brainpower to worry about how you’re going to make it through the rest of the day, then how are you going to be able to focus when it comes time to save for retirement — which you’re already supposed to be doing, anyway?
How we deal with financial stress
About half of survey respondents said they tightened their spending when they were financially stressed, while a third said they monitor their accounts more frequently.
That’s great news, but this wasn’t: Younger respondents were more likely to do anything to take their minds off the stress, including watching TV or going shopping. Not the best idea for your wallet, or your brain.
How you SHOULD deal with debt problems
At Debt.com, we work with people every day to help them get out of debt and get their lives back on track. Here are some tips to help you deal with debt and prevent it from crippling you…
1. Focus on concrete steps you can make right now.
Because being in debt can feel overwhelming, it’s helpful to focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. Regardless of how much you want to give up and stick your head in the sand, following the steps below can at least get you on the right track.
2. Make a budget, and stick to it.
We write a lot about how to stick to a budget, but it’s worth repeating over and over because it’s so important. If you aren’t tracking your spending, that’s the first place to start. Sites like PowerWallet make it easy to see what you’re spending and saving, and allow you to create interactive calendars marking when your bills are due.
3. Keep yourself physically and mentally active.
You don’t need a gym membership. Outdoor exercise, getting fresh air, going on a bike ride or a run all help improve your mood, and in turn, decrease your stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, pleasure-causing chemicals that makes us feel less stress and pain. And since exercising keeps your body in shape, it’s beneficial for both your body and your mind.
4. Get support.
Finding a buddy to help you through getting out of debt will keep you accountable. He or she can provide a listening ear, emotional support, and encouragement.
Much like your dad used to tell you in high school, don’t run with the wrong crowd. In this case that means sticking with people who know you’re sticking to a budget.
5. Stay positive.
It’s cliche, but having a positive attitude is really necessary if you’re struggling financially. Because it’s easy to get bogged down, and pinching pennies sucks, having the right attitude can decrease the amount of stress you’re feeling financially.