6 Money Stressors to Eliminate From Your Life
Between juggling work, family and other obligations, your days might be hectic and stressful. But if you can eliminate some of the anxieties you face on a daily basis, you’re moving in the right direction.
Unfortunately, getting rid of stress is much easier said than done — especially when it comes to financial stress. Of every potential stressor in our lives, money tops the list. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 64 percent of Americans feel money is the biggest cause of stress in their lives.
Unfortunately, we can’t always demand a higher salary at work, and there’s nothing we can do about higher costs-of-living. But if your money worries have increased significantly over the past few months or years, there are ways to reduce your stress level.
Here’s a look at six money stressors to eliminate from your life.
Going Broke for Holidays, Birthdays, Etc.
If you have a huge circle of family and friends, there probably isn’t a month that goes by without getting an invitation to a birthday party, a graduation party, a wedding or a baby shower — plus you’re expected to buy holiday gifts.
Constantly going into your pocket to celebrate other people’s life choices gets expensive. And if you feel pressure to spend money you don’t have, this only adds to your financial worries. There’s nothing wrong with gift-giving, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your bank account.
Get creative with gift-giving and think of ways to say “congratulations” that don’t involve writing a check or using a credit card. Maybe you can make a gift — if you’re talented, of course — or invite the person over for a celebratory dinner.
You might also start a gift fund and deposit a little bit from each paycheck so you’ll have money available when it’s time to buy gifts.
Lending Your Hard-Earned Cash
Do friends or family think you’re their personal ATM? If so, it’s time to break the cycle. Understandably, you might feel a sense of obligation to help those who need financial help, but it’s not your job to take care of everyone else, especially if you need your money.
As a rule of thumb, only lend money if you can afford to lose it. You can’t give what you don’t have, and if your friends and family don’t understand your limitations, they’re the ones with the problem, not you.
Comparing Yourself to Others
Most of us set financial goals for ourselves, and we often plan on achieving certain goals by a certain age. But unfortunately, life often gets in the way of our plans. Maybe we didn’t get a promotion, or maybe unexpected curveballs like a job loss sets us back financially.
Everyone faces hardships, but you can actually make your hardships worse if you continually compare yourself to others.
If your friends are buying homes and cars or starting families, yet you can barely afford a one-bedroom apartment, you might put undo pressure on yourself to get ahead and acquire the same lifestyle.
Life isn’t a contest and we hit milestones at different stages. All you can do is your best. And remember, just because someone appears to have it all doesn’t mean they actually do. The ones you envy could be living above their means or have a ton of credit card debt.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations
As a financially savvy person you may set yearly financial goals for yourself. For example:
- Save $5,000 for retirement
- Build a three-month emergency fund
- Pay off credit card debt by the end of the year
All are excellent goals, but your income only goes so far. And if you spread yourself too thin, you won’t have any discretionary income for fun, which increases the risk of frugal burnout. Some people earn enough money and they’re able to save for multiple goals simultaneously.
But if your earnings are modest, it’s important to set realistic money goals or else you’ll give up.
Too Much Debt
A plan points you in the right direction providing a way out of a situation, and it can motivate you to work harder toward your goals.
I’m amazed by the number of people who don’t have any type of emergency fund. Financial experts recommend saving at least 3 to 6 months of income. But even if you save a minimum of $500-$1,000, this might be enough to cover unexpected expenses that occur, such as a home repair or a car repair.
You might not realize it now, but a rainy day fund is one of the biggest stress relievers you can give yourself. Knowing you have “just in case” money can alleviate panic when you’re caught off guard with an extra expense.