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7 ways to reduce financial stress and take control of your money

Financial stress is common and many of us will experience it in our lifetime - but there are small steps you can take to ease this pressure.

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Family with a child having financial problems, doing home budgeting, calculating expenses.
Financial difficulties can feel overwhelming, so the key is to take a step back and make small changes first.

It’s Stress Awareness Month, and this year the theme is ‘little by little’. 

This theme hopes to highlight that small steps towards self-care and stress management can significantly help mental health over time. 

This is also fitting for managing financial stress, as tackling it one step at a time is a helpful strategy. Financial difficulties can feel overwhelming, so the key is to take a step back and make small changes first. 

Financial stress is also something that many people will be experiencing due to the current economic climate, as the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze budgets. 

It’s important to remember that you are never alone with these struggles, and there are organisations available that can help, including Citizens Advice

In the meantime, here are some steps that can help to get your financial situation back on track…

1. Prioritise your debts 

One of the main causes of financial stress is debt. At first, it might seem easier to ignore debt and hope it goes away, but unfortunately this will end up causing even more problems. Instead, take a deep breath and do an audit of all your debts. 

Then, prioritise the debt with the highest interest rates, which might be a loan or a credit card debt. If it’s the latter, you could explore a 0% balance transfer credit card. This allows you to move the credit card debt with high interest rates to another card with lower interest. By consolidating your debt, you should be able to pay off the debt faster and avoid high interest rates.

Plus, breaking down your debt into manageable chunks will make it less overwhelming and empower you to regain control of your finances. 

2. Stick to a budget 

Once you’ve reduced or managed your debt, you can start thinking about a monthly budget. This is an effective way to manage financial stress as it will keep your money in order. To create a budget, you’ll need to audit your bills, income and additional expenses to see how much money you’re spending and how much you could be saving.

If you’re struggling to save, look for ways to reduce your expenses - from removing monthly subscriptions to reducing impulsive spending. It’s important to regularly review this budget and remember to always be realistic with saving goals. 

3. Open a savings account 

If you are struggling with financial stress, it could be because you don’t have any savings. It’s important to build an emergency fund that can be used if you have an unexpected expense. Without this savings pot to fall back on, it puts a lot of pressure on your finances and forces you to build up more debt. 

Instead, open a savings account for the money you plan to save each month. An instant access account normally allows unlimited withdrawals and you get the extra benefit of interest. Alternatively, explore regular savings accounts as this will encourage you to deposit a specific amount each month and build your pot faster. However, this type of account does come with restrictions, so remember to read all the terms and conditions before applying. 

Help stretch your budget a little further by making the most of your savings.

4. Try mindful spending 

Impulsive spending can contribute to financial stress as it might be reducing your bank balance unnecessarily. Instead, challenge yourself to try mindful spending. This practice encourages you to carefully evaluate whether you need to buy something, and whether it aligns with your budget and savings goals. 

In essence, it’s all about being more aware of what you buy and distinguishing the difference between wants and needs. 

5. Talk to friends and family

A simple - but often difficult - way to ease financial stress is to talk about it. It sounds straightforward but this can be a big hurdle to overcome, as many people feel embarrassed by financial struggles. However, confiding in someone who you trust can provide a huge amount of emotional relief and they’ll be able to offer practical advice. 

Once you’ve spoken about your financial concerns, your family and friends will then be able to support you during this difficult time. They’ll be there to cheer you on and keep you on track as you navigate these financial challenges. 

6. Seek professional advice

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family, then consider an independent financial advisor. They’ll be able to steer you in the right direction and offer personalised guidance tailored to your circumstances. 

Independent financial advisors can also offer insight into long-term financial strategies once you’ve addressed current concerns. 

7. Remember self-care 

Financial stress can take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing, and it might impact your sleep or general mood. Therefore, try and prioritise self-care activities that promote relaxation and meditation. 

These activities don’t need to impact your budget, as there’s plenty of things you can try for free. For example, try taking a walk each day or a simple breathing exercise after your working day to switch off. 

Achieving a positive financial wellbeing won’t happen overnight, but by taking small steps everyday you’ll soon find that things start changing for the better. 

Get help with the cost of living

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About Lucinda O'Brien

As a trained journalist, Lucinda has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles, including The Mirror, WalesOnline and Manchester Evening News. She is now a personal finance editor and specialises in savings, helping people to make confident financial decisions so they can save for what matters most.

View Lucinda O'Brien's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.