When it comes to sources of stress, finances are constantly cited as one of the top contributors. There are tons of people out there who are faced with a daily sense of anxiety or fear about their financial wellness.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to ease the burden of financial tension and get yourself back on the right track. To help you get started, here are five steps you can take to help ease your money stress.
1. Diagnose Your Money Troubles
Are you afraid that you don’t have enough saved for retirement? Are you worried that you won’t be able to make the next payment on your credit card bill? Are you concerned that you aren’t making the right investments for your future? The first step to easing financial stress is to know exactly what’s causing it. Take the time to sit down and review your budget, savings accounts and credit report. (You can get your free credit report annually from AnnualCreditReport.com and you can get free credit report summary updated every month on Credit.com.) Going through these items can help you pinpoint your financial strengths and weakness and help you identify what exactly you need to work on to relieve the tension.
2. Knowledge Is Power
There are countless ways you can further your understanding of personal finance and educate yourself on money management. Pick up a book, subscribe to a blog, or start listening to a podcast on your way to work or school. You’ll start to better understand the problems that lay before you and, even better, how to solve them. The sooner you start to tackle your financial issues, the sooner you can feel relief from stress.
3. Build Yourself a Safety Net
So much financial stress stems from concerns about losing a job or being unable to manage an unexpected expense or two. Building an emergency fund is a great way to give yourself peace of mind. Ideally, an emergency fund should be able to cover at least three months of your expenses. Adjust your budget so you can put more money into savings or look to increase your cash flow so you have more money to play around with.
Emergency funds are also a far better safety net than using a credit card. Being able to cover an unexpected expense with cash will prevent you from having to pay interest and should help keep your credit utilization low. Believe me, having a safety net will do wonders for reducing your financial stress. If you are in credit card debt, it can help to come up with a payoff plan (this free calculator can help you do that.)
4. Remember That It Takes Time
Getting your finances in order is rarely a quick fix. Building an emergency fund, paying off debt and achieving a long-term savings goal takes time. Instead of focusing on the big number, break things down into smaller, easier steps so you don’t overwhelm yourself. It probably took you some time to accumulate the debt and other items you pay for each month and it can take time to unwind that web. Take things day by day and focus on developing good money habits instead of trying to find quick fixes. This should help ease your mind and give you a better chance at sustaining your financial well-being.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Fear is paralyzing, especially when you’re in debt. You can be afraid that someone will judge you for the situation you are in or that things will get worse. Don’t hide or be ashamed; take control and ask for help. Asking is often the best step in the resolution process. Sometimes things just get to the point where they’re too hard to manage on your own. There’s no shame in asking for help or guidance from a financial professional, especially if you feel you might really need the help. If you’re overwhelmed with debt, incredibly nervous about your financial future or just feel whatever is causing your stress isn’t something you can take care of on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who is able to provide you with the assistance you need.
When it comes to financial stress, possibly the most important thing is to remember that you are not alone. There are thousands of people out there who are currently struggling with the same problems and share your financial concerns. Try taking some of these steps today and attempt to face your money worries head on. Once you’ve taken the bull by the horns, that stress will slowly start to fade away.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.