Overdue. Overdrawn. Overextended. Over it!
Today, many of us are feeling a bit overwhelmed. In fact, more than 40 percent of Canadians rank money as the greatest cause of stress in their lives. It results in anxiety, loss of sleep, arguments with partners, and other unhealthy side effects and behaviours. So unless the boss gives you a big bonus or a financial windfall comes your way, how can you better deal with your financial stress? It really comes down to a mental and physical balance, so here are four steps for each.
4 Mental Stress-Relievers
1. Tell Yourself You Can Do It
You’ve heard about the power of positive thinking, now put it into action! Science has proven that taking a glass-half-full approach to life can benefit you both mentally and physically. So keep telling yourself you can do it—and praise yourself with each win no matter how small it may be. Skipped the $5 latte? Congratulate yourself! Walked right past the sales in the display window? Congratulate yourself!
2. Embrace Other Positives in Your Life
This may not solve your debt, but it can go a long way towards getting you into a positive mindset. Whether it’s your health (you totally rocked that 5K!), your kids (straight A’s!), your job (that raise is coming!) or even a hobby (that muskie you caught was one for the record books!), revel in the positives of your life from time to time. It can give you the boost you need to tackle your financial situation with a smile!
3. Know You’re Not Alone
Far more people than you probably realize are going through financial turmoil too. It’s just that most of us choose not to talk about it. Over 45 percent of Canadian mental health counsellors surveyed say it’s difficult for individuals suffering from financial issues to disclose those concerns to others due to shame and embarrassment. I’ve found that for some people, knowing others are experiencing similar situations lets them know they are not alone in all this debt drama, and that can go a long way! One of the things we hear the most from our clients is that they felt no judgement or shame when seeking our help—this is a cornerstone of our service because it makes all the difference.
4. Stop Focusing on Regrets
It’s time to leave the past behind! Beating yourself up over those maxed out credit cards or that bad stock investment isn’t going to do you any good. Rather than wasting time worrying about past financial mistakes, be proactive and put that energy toward taking control of your finances. You’ve already come to the conclusion that you need to make some changes; focusing on those—and your future—is the next step...which leads me to the four activities that can help you climb out of that financial hole.
4 Physical Stress-Relievers
1. Create a Budget
This is where things get real. If you’ve mentally committed to changing your financial situation, it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This requires taking a good, hard look at the money you have coming in versus the money you have going out. Budgeting also means tracking your expenses; you may be shocked to realize how much money you spend on something that could be easily cut from your life.
2. Build an Emergency Fund
Without an emergency fund, we often find ourselves reaching for the credit cards, or even worse, one of those payday loans. While setting up an emergency fund can seem daunting, take the “baby steps” approach! That money you saved skipping lattes and new boots? Put it into your fund. You could also have your bank round up any debits or purchases to the nearest dollar, and move the savings into a separate account. Before you know it, you’ll have a handsome nest egg to fall back on if a crisis arises.
3. Earn Extra Cash
Easier said than done, you might be thinking. However, there are many opportunities out there if you sit down and think about it (we did just that, and came up with ten of our own). You might also consider a “side-hustle”; the growing popularity of websites such as Etsy, Uber, and Airbnb suggest that a number of Canadians are trying to grow their income outside of their 9-to-5.
4. Pay Down Your Debts
Debt weighs us down; sometimes we don’t even know where to begin. It’s important to keep up with your accounts in good standing; you can worry about the others later. It’s also beneficial to determine which accounts have the highest interest rates and then settle on either an avalanche or snowball approach to repayment. And every time that balance goes down, you’ll see your positivity go up!
Here’s an unofficial #5 to this list. It involves using some of the tools Credit Canada has provided. You can download our free Monthly Budget Tracker to help get you started. You can also use our free Budget Calculator to find hidden savings in your budget, as well as attend one of our free money management seminars to learn the ins and outs of effective money management and getting rid of debt. Check out some of our other online tips and tools too!