Even if you’re on the right track, it’s hard to feel like you can relax when it comes to your money. You might find yourself anxious about spending on necessary items, or you might deny yourself small luxuries such as going out to dinner and the movies or even buying that pumpkin spice latte you’ve been waiting for since last fall.
As it stands, more than half of working Americans are stressed about their finances, according to PwC’s 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey Opens in new window, and 45% say their stress has increased in the past year.
In a Gallup poll Opens in new window, Americans recently reported more worries about seven different financial issues than they did in a previous year, from not having enough money for retirement to not being able to pay their rent or mortgage.
And new research from Prudential measuring the financial wellness of more than 1,000 Americans also saw high levels of anxiety – with a focus on five key areas of stress .
Perhaps you can relate? If your money worries are keeping you up at night, here are a few small steps that help in two ways: They soothe your anxious mind, letting you feel better about your finances, while also providing good tactics for actually better managing your money. (And hey – give yourself a little pat on the back. The fact that you are here reading this article is itself a smart step toward financial peace of mind. Good for you!)
Put your goals on paper
Not having a plan can make almost anything seem scary. Schedule a quiet time to sit and write down your goals. Prioritize them. And then you can start making a plan to tackle them. Is saving for your child's college education top on your list? Set up a transfer from your account on paydays to a 529 plan. Is credit card debt wearing you down? Make a plan to pay an extra $50 above the minimum each month until you pay your cards off. Whatever your top priorities are, writing them down as the first step toward formulating a plan will help you feel like you’re making real progress – and also quell the anxiety that can come with uncertainty.
Automate your savings plans
When you’re not consistently saving toward your goals, you can feel anxious about whether or not you’re ever going to achieve them. Making your savings automatic removes decision-making from the equation. For every paycheck you receive, money can be transferred automatically into your retirement fund and other goal-oriented savings accounts at your bank. This frees up time for you to do more enjoyable activities than transferring money (we’re sure you can come up with a few things you’d rather be doing) and lets you rest assured that your financial future is getting more secure. You can also feel better about spending left-over money on a few of your guilty pleasures knowing that your savings goals are more covered.
Cut back on social media
When you’re presented every day with curated images of other people’s lives, it can be easy to feel like everyone in the world is doing everything right – except you. Recent research has found a connection between heavy social media use and depression Opens in new window. Keep in mind that most people aren’t posting their credit card debt, student loan balances or stock market failures online.
If your Facebook feed makes you feel like you need to spend more to keep up – or that you’re worse off financially than everyone else – take a break or reduce your time online. Check in with yourself after a few Facebook-free days to see if you feel less anxious about the direction of your life.
This will help you stop competing with your friends – or feeling like you have to “keep up with the Joneses,” as they say. If you are feeling like you can never catch up with the people you know, take a deep breath and remember – there will always be people who make more money than you do, or who are able to buy big luxury items that may be out of reach for you at the moment. If you concentrate on living your own best financial life, and stop worrying about living everybody else’s, you should feel better about your monetary achievements, both large and small.
What you can do next
When it comes to money, uncertainty can be the root of anxiety. Being proactive—maybe with the help of a pro—can put you on course for a smoother ride.
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