Money is great, right? I’m not going to gloss over the fact that money makes life better—period. I know there’s the phrase about money not buying happiness, but I’m pretty sure whoever said that never had debt. Education is expensive, house prices are skyrocketing, and saving for retirement often feels unattainable. That impacts mental and even physical health. It’s challenging to navigate; I get it.
What if I told you that there are simple, actionable steps to combat that stress? When you’re equipped with tools, suddenly personal finance worries aren’t as overwhelming. Crafting a budget, figuring out life insurance, and choosing a retirement account don’t sound like fun activities. But, they actually make your life easier.
Here are my top tips on how to combat financial stress:
1. Create a goal to tackle debt.
It’s important to figure out which debt is best to pay off first. Credit cards almost always have a higher APR than student loans (private and public). Therefore, you want to start with the debt that carries the highest interest. This is called the debt avalanche method. You make minimum payments on all debt and use any extra funds to pay off the balance with the highest interest rate.
I love this method for two reasons: One, you save money in the long run, and two, you feel accomplished once it’s paid off. Science shows that when you complete a task or project, your brain releases dopamine (aka a neurotransmitter that is responsible for making you feel happy). I like to think that it’s equivalent to eating a cheesy slice of pizza.
2. Download apps to your phone.
Yes, you read that correctly. Put your iPhone or Android to use. There are a slew of budgeting apps that track your monthly expenses, help you refinance debt, and make it easy to choose a life insurance policy. Ladder gives you control of your life insurance coverage, and the app allows you to adjust your policy by “laddering,” or keeping it the same. You can feel at ease knowing your family will be able to continue paying a mortgage, finish school, and enjoy the comfort of financial stability.
The cool part about apps is that we already have them on our phones. It’s easy to switch between scrolling Instagram to managing your life insurance plan. It’s all in one place, making it easy to access. Hey, you can even check your personal finance apps while catching up on the latest Netflix series.
3. Find a side hustle.
If you’re stressed about money and want extra income to help pay down debt, save, or invest—adding an additional source of income is a great place to start. You don’t need to start a company on the side (major props if you do!). You can be an Uber Eats delivery driver, tutor students virtually, or start a resume editing service.
If you have a passion that you don’t pursue in your day-to-day career, that can also become an additional way to make money. Are you an artist? Start an Etsy shop. Do you love to play the piano? Offer piano lessons. Do you have a closet that’s overflowing with clothes you haven’t worn in years? Been there. Sell it and use that money to help alleviate financial stress in your life.
4. Practice self-care.
I just gave you a bunch of my favorite solutions to prevent money stress. Whether you have $100k in student loans or are trying to save for your kid’s college—you need to also take care of yourself. Prioritize your physical and mental health. Even the good parts of life bring stress. Jobs, kids, and school benefit our lives but also add pressure.
I wouldn’t be my best self if I didn’t carve out time to watch my favorite movies, hang out with friends, and unplug to recharge. Self-care is singing in the shower at the top of your lungs even if you’re off-tune more than not. Self-care is going to therapy. Throw some of that money from a side hustle toward investing in a quality therapist. Find the balance of using tools to better handle your money while using your money to take care of yourself. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.
5. Discuss money with people in your social network.
I know talking about money is considered taboo for some, but that thinking limits people from growing their wealth. Talk to friends, family members, and co-workers about their earnings, where they invest, and how they manage their money. It helps to get more knowledge and limits insecurities surrounding personal finances.
Finances can be overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. Budgeting, investing, and choosing a life insurance plan aren’t the sexiest topics, but they all help alleviate stress. Take control of your finances, so you can clear your headspace to focus on the more fun parts of life (like that pizza I mentioned).