We are pleased to share with you a special piece from renowned Australian money educator Vanessa Stoykov.
Below, Vanessa discusses mentally navigating the challenge of money-related stress and focusing on positive areas of your life.
How to lower your money stress by Vanessa Stoykov
You don’t have to go far to find people who are stressed about money. In fact, a recent survey I commissioned showed that up to 40% of Aussies believe they will have to work longer due to the financial effects of COVID-19. That fact alone would be causing a lot of stress for people.
But the even bigger stress for most of us is right now: how to juggle this bill, pay that, and keep it all together. So how do you get on top of it all? While the obvious answer is to earn more—that is not always an option. So, with what you have, here are some ways to mentally get around the challenge of money-related stress, and start focusing on more positive areas of your life.
- Understand your true situation. Exactly how much debt do you have? What are all your monthly payments? Then you can do a true assessment of your financial situation. Many of us don’t know the true figure, as we are not taking into account bills that arrive quarterly and things that are bought annually (like presents). Take everything into account—you can use a budget calculator. This gives you the power to make decisions about your life beyond 2021. Can you live somewhere less expensive? Take public transport? Whatever the decision, at least you have the power to make them and lower your stress by being informed and thinking of a plan, instead of just worrying.
- Start thinking about what you can do differently. Obviously, the big bills have to be paid to live, but what about things you don’t have to spend money on? For example, this year for Christmas our family has agreed not to give gifts to the adults, and just buy something for the kids. None of us needs anything, and it is a big saving not to spend money on gifts. We would rather focus on the time together and eating food and being merry. Having these conversations with family can do wonders for lowering your stress.
- Spend time now or over the Christmas holiday period really looking at what you own. What don’t you need anymore? What can you sell on gumtree or eBay that could give you cash in hand? Taking care of some bills, or even better, stockpiling a nest egg can really make you feel less pressure knowing that you have some safety net if things get harder.
- Start meditating. I know everyone is talking about mindfulness now—and for a good reason. If you take at least 5 minutes a day to focus on breathing and clearing your mind of stress and worries, it can certainly help you take that attitude into your day. Money stress is debilitating, and when you are in it, sometimes it’s hard to get out. So take the time to find a way to stay calm. There are many free apps you can use that guide you through meditation.
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