8 Strategies to Cope with Financial Stress During Challenging Times

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it is no secret that financial stress has become an unwelcome companion for most people. It is important to recognize this pressing issue that is taking a toll on the well-being of individuals across the nation. As reported by Champion Health in The Workplace Health Report: 2023, a staggering 76% of employees find themselves grappling with moderate-to-high stress levels. 37% of individuals attribute their stress to financial pressures outside their working hours. The weight of this burden is further confirmed by the Financial Finesse report, which reveals that 27% of the workforce is grappling with high or overwhelming levels of financial stress. Among those particularly affected are single parents, who bear a disproportionate share of this stress. The report underlines that single parents are nearly four times more likely to experience unmanageable stress compared to their married counterparts without children.

Consider consulting with a professional financial advisor who can help create the right strategies to weather the storm, understand how to survive financial hardship, and emerge stronger on the other side. You can also tap into the eight financial stress management strategies mentioned in this article to take control of your financial well-being and find a path toward a more balanced and fulfilling life.

What causes financial stress? 

To know how to deal with financial stress, you must first be able to spot the causes of it. Here are some common reasons for financial stress:

1. If you have a low income

Having a low income means not earning enough money to cover your daily needs. Imagine you have a certain amount of money coming in, but the costs of things like gas, groceries, and rent are higher. This situation creates a feeling of worry that sticks around all the time. When your earnings fail to align with the demands of daily life, a persistent sense of financial unease can linger. Striving to make ends meet on a limited income can create a cycle of perpetual worry. The inability to meet essential expenses can erode your confidence and create a constant state of financial apprehension.

2. If you are saddled with debt

Debt occurs when you owe money to other people or companies. This could be from student loans, credit cards, or mortgages. Having debt can make you feel uneasy about your money situation. Every time you make a payment on your debt, you are not just paying back what you borrowed. You are also paying extra charges in the form of interest. The pressure of dealing with your debt while paying for everyday things can feel pressurizing. Missing payments or not being able to keep up can create further tension.

3. If the market experiences volatility

Financial markets are like a seesaw. They go up and down a lot due to the cyclic nature of markets. This up-and-down movement creates volatility, making your financial situation feel unsteady. The volatility of the financial markets can shatter the illusion of stability and create uncertainty about your financial future. Moreover, market forces are out of your control. You can do nothing to control recession, depression, inflation, high interest rates, and other similar scenarios. This can lead to further panic and a feeling of loss of control over the situation.

4. If you have to deal with unplanned expenses

Life is full of surprises, and not all of them are good. Unplanned expenses can throw off your budget. For example, imagine you were saving up for something special, like a vacation, and then your car breaks down. Now, you must use that money to fix the car instead of going on vacation. Financial hurdles can come in various forms and feel frustrating. It might be a medical bill, a sudden home repair, or even losing your job. This pressure can make you stressed out and tired.

5. If you start financial planning late

Late financial planning makes you vulnerable to whatever might happen, which can be scary. When you do not make a plan for your money, you are leaving things to chance. The earlier you start, the more your money can grow over time. You miss out on good chances when you do not plan for things like saving, investing, or getting ready for retirement. This can make things harder later when you need that money. The weight of future financial responsibilities can feel heavy. You might worry about things like buying a house, paying for your kids’ education, or retiring comfortably.

How do you let go of financial stress?

Financial stress is a common issue that can significantly impact your overall well-being. However, you can take control of your financial situation by implementing practical financial stress management. Here are some strategies that can help you cope with unwanted anxiety:

1. Create a comprehensive budget

A budget is essentially a financial roadmap that helps you track your income and expenses. It provides a clear overview of your financial situation and enables you to make informed decisions about allocating your money. Developing a well-structured budget is the cornerstone of effective financial management. A budget allows you to allocate your money wisely. You can begin by listing all sources of income. This includes your salary, freelance income, investment returns, rental income, or any other funds that regularly come into your possession. Next, categorize your expenses into different groups to ensure you cover all aspects of your financial life. Common categories include housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, insurance, debt payments, entertainment, and savings or investments. Assign specific monetary values to each expense category based on your spending habits. For instance, you can allocate 20% for savings and investments and 50% for essentials like housing, utilities, and groceries.

By knowing exactly where your money is going and having a plan in place, you will be able to reduce financial stress and uncertainty. The budget will enable you to set and work towards your financial goals, like paying off debt, saving for a house, or building an investment portfolio. It will also help you gain greater control over your financial future.

2. Explore additional income streams

Depending solely on a single income source can leave you vulnerable to financial uncertainties. However, increasing your income and diversifying the sources can significantly enhance your financial stability. Income diversification helps you fortify your financial stability and create a more robust financial foundation. Relying on multiple income streams reduces your vulnerability to job loss or industry fluctuations. Moreover, additional income sources provide increased liquidity, allowing you to manage unexpected expenses.

You can consider working part-time alongside your primary job to earn more. If you possess specialized skills or expertise, freelancing or consulting can be a lucrative option. You can also start a side business to generate extra income. Passive income is another great way to boost your income. Passive income requires an initial investment of money, time, and effort but yields ongoing returns with minimal involvement. Examples include rental properties, dividend-paying stocks, etc.

No matter what you choose, remember to evaluate your skills, interests, and available opportunities to identify the income streams that best align with your goals and circumstances.

3. Tackle debt strategically

Debt, particularly high-interest debt like personal loans and credit card balances, can compound over time. This helps significantly increase the amount you owe. The mounting dues can create financial stress that can be hard to get rid of. The stress of managing multiple debts and the fear of accumulating interest can erode your overall financial well-being. However, creating a structured plan to pay off your debts can help you gain control over your financial situation.

To prioritize your debts effectively, you can start by compiling a list, including all outstanding debts like loans and credit cards, interest rates, and minimum monthly payments for each. It is important to prioritize paying off debts with the highest interest rates first. This helps you target the most expensive debts and reduce the overall interest you will pay over time. Stick to your repayment plan diligently, even if progress seems slow initially. Remember that consistency is key and can help you in the long run. Once your debt is under control, you can focus on other aspects of your financial plan, such as saving for emergencies, retirement, and investments. This will lower your financial stress and help you focus on more important aspects of your financial plan. 

4. Establish an emergency fund

Life is filled with uncertainties, and unexpected expenses can arise at any time, putting your financial stability at risk. Creating an emergency fund is important to safeguard yourself against unforeseen financial setbacks. An emergency fund is a dedicated pool of savings reserved for unexpected expenses, like medical emergencies, car repairs, job loss, or unforeseen home repairs. Knowing you have a financial cushion to fall back on in times of crisis can significantly reduce stress and anxiety related to unexpected events. With a secure emergency fund, you can make more deliberate decisions during emergencies rather than being forced into hasty choices due to financial pressure.

You must save three to six months’ worth of living expenses. This can ensure you are adequately prepared for various scenarios, such as unexpected job loss or prolonged medical issues. Make sure you open a separate savings account for your emergency fund to avoid accidentally dipping into these funds for non-urgent expenses. It is also important to focus on gradually increasing the size of your emergency fund to account for inflation, increasing lifestyle expenses, etc.



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5. Automate essential financial transactions

Automating essential financial transactions offers a practical solution to alleviate stress and ensure consistent progress toward your financial goals. It allows you to minimize the risk of late fees, maintain financial discipline, and enjoy greater peace of mind. Automated payments ensure that your bills are paid on time and reduce the likelihood of incurring late fees or penalties. It eliminates the need for manual bill payments, freeing up your time for more important financial tasks. Automating contributions to savings and investment accounts fosters financial discipline and ensures consistency, leading to higher profits in the long run.

You can create a list of your recurring expenses, savings, and investments. Establish automatic payments for each of these with a fixed sum and date. Ensure that your account has sufficient money to cover these transactions to avoid defaults and delays. It is also important to periodically review your automated transactions. Ensure that the correct amounts are being deducted on time and that your financial situation has not changed significantly.

6. Monitor and manage your investments

Investing is crucial to building long-term wealth, but it requires ongoing attention and strategic decision-making. Regularly monitoring and managing your investment portfolio is essential for reducing stress. Periodic reviews allow you to assess how well your investments are performing, track their performance, and identify which investments are contributing positively and which may need adjustments. It also ensures you stay informed about market trends, economic indicators, and industry developments to make well-informed decisions. Market fluctuations can cause your portfolio to shift from your original asset allocation. Rebalancing your portfolio frequently can help maintain your desired risk profile.

Regular monitoring and informed decision-making can give you a sense of control over your investments, reducing stress and uncertainty. It allows you to adjust your portfolio in response to changing market conditions, maximizing the potential for success and minimizing stress. It also ensures your investment strategy remains aligned with your long-term financial goals.

7. Focus on short and long-term financial planning

Creating a financial plan offers numerous advantages that can contribute to your well-being. Future planning is a proactive approach to achieving financial security and peace of mind. By setting clear short-term and long-term goals and highlighting the steps needed to achieve them, you can eliminate financial anxiety about the unknown and work toward a more secure financial future. A well-structured financial plan gives you a clear direction. It helps you define specific financial goals, like buying a home, saving for your child’s education, or planning for retirement. It helps you prepare to navigate unexpected events without derailing your financial progress.

8. Seek guidance from a financial advisor

If financial management feels overwhelming, seeking guidance from a suitable financial advisor can be helpful. A financial advisor can help you understand what to do when you’re struggling financially. They can offer personalized expertise. Financial advisors possess in-depth knowledge of investment markets, tax regulations, retirement planning, and other financial aspects. They can provide expert recommendations based on current market trends and economic conditions, and help you create an exhaustive financial plan that encompasses short-term and long-term goals. They can also help you select suitable investment options based on your financial goals and risk appetite. By working with a financial advisor, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that you receive expert guidance and make well-informed financial decisions.

To conclude

Armed with the right financial stress management strategies, you can navigate common challenges and regain control of your financial well-being. Budgeting, diversified income streams, strategic debt management, emergency funds, automated transactions, investment vigilance, and future planning can help you regain control over your money and lower stress. The guidance of a financial advisor can also provide you with tailored solutions and help you set a course toward lasting financial stability.

Use the free advisor match service to connect with a qualified financial advisor who can guide you on how to manage financial stress and help you effectively plan for a comfortable financial future. Answer a few simple questions about your financial needs, and our match tool can connect you with 1-3 advisors who can best fulfill your financial requirements.

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