Worrying about finances can be all-consuming. Find out how to reduce your debt stress and anxiety and overcome your debt problems.
Debt is a major source of stress.
Money issues, especially when there isn’t any of it, can cause the type of stress that seeps into your everyday life. It can affect your performance at work, your relationships, and even your self-worth.
Your debt isn’t going to magically disappear. Your stress about your debt isn’t going to magically disappear either.
But it is possible to drastically reduce or eliminate your debt stress. Here are the things that worked for me when I was trying to dig myself out of six figures of debt.
1. Start feeling empowered about your finances
Feeling empowered about anything gives you strength and gives you power. It puts you in control. This is so important when dealing with finances and debt.
When you finally take control of your financial situation, you have permission to change and improve it.
But how do you start to feel empowered? The rest of this article lists ways to feel empowered about your money. It boils down to changing your mindset, getting educated, knowing your current financial situation, and taking action.
Financial empowerment leads to financial confidence which leads to a successful financial future.
2. Change your mindset
Your attitude affects your actions. If you are suffering from a victim mentality, then your actions are going to be defensive instead of offensive.
When dealing with debt, you need to be on the offense. You need to attack your debt, not let it drown you.
Change your mindset by accepting that you took on this debt; it’s your responsibility. Stop thinking about it from a negative point of view (I know this is hard….and unusual…). Start thinking about the positive things that your debt has allowed you to do.
I spent several years after college very stressed and concerned about my six figure student loan debt. But the day that I started to be thankful for my debt was the day my debt-free journey truly began.
This shift in mindset helped me feel empowered about my financial situation and debt.
3. Get educated
You probably didn’t learn much about personal finance in school. Luckily there are so many resources out there (like this blog!) that teach you the basics.
This is an area where you should never stop learning. Budgeting and tracking your income and expenses is fundamental. Debt management and reduction is critical to your financial health (…and mental health in my experience). Saving for retirement and investing are key to becoming wealthy.
I have learned about personal finance in so many different ways: books, blogs, podcasts, talking with friends, and even TED Talks.
My absolute favorite resources for learning about money include:
- Top Blogs to Help You Get out of Debt
- The Top 6 Personal Finance Podcasts
- The 5 Best TED Talks About Personal Finance
4. Know how much you have
Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is more stress in this case. Way more stress.
You might have a momentary spike in stress when finally realizing how much money you actually owe, but that’s better than the stress of not knowing.
Knowledge is power. Knowing exactly how much you owe is powerful. It only makes sense – you need to know your starting point if you are ever going to find a path out of debt.
Take a few hours this weekend and calculate how much you owe on each debt. Add it together. There’s your starting point. You are no longer living in a black-hole of debt. You know exactly how big your debt pile is.
5. Create a plan to get out of debt
Now that you have removed the stress of not knowing how much debt you have (see #4), you know where you stand financially.
But is that number starting to stress you out? I know I certainly had a little spike in my stress level when I realized that I owed more than twice my annual starting salary. Eeeks.
I think everyone has a right to that initial shock and stress. In fact, that worry is probably a good thing; it will help motivate you to get out of debt faster.
But what do you do with the lingering stress of knowing that you owe a lot of money? You make a plan. A plan to get out of debt.
Knowing that there is a solution to getting out of debt will significantly reduce your stress. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, experiencing a stress high, or even having a panic or anxiety episode, you can look at your plan and know that there is an answer to your problem.
A plan is your stress medicine. It will tell you the exact steps you need to take to get from your starting point (buried in debt) to your final destination (debt-freedom). You may even attach a timeline to it so that you can remind yourself this won’t be an ongoing stress/problem in your life.
How do you create a get-out-of-debt plan? I personally think it’s just like creating a business plan. For some guidance and a step-by-step plan, check out my post on How to Pay off Debt Fast by Treating it Like a Business.
The biggest decision you will have to make is what method you will use to get out of debt. Will you use the Debt Snowball Method where you pay off your debts from lowest balance to highest balance? Or will you use the Debt Avalanche Method where you pay off your debts from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate?
I personally used the Debt Snowball Method. It’s what I would recommend. I certainly think it’s the plan that’s best suited for those who are feeling stressed about their debt. You get quick small wins at the very beginning of your journey. That makes it feel like becoming debt-free is possible. That feeling certainly reduced my stress.
If you want to use the Debt Snowball Method to get out of debt, you can sign up below and you’ll receive three worksheets over three days that will help you create and stick to a debt plan. You’ll start paying off debts left and right which means you’ll be knocking that stress level down several notches.
6. Don’t get into more debt
You’re already stressed with the amount of debt you have. Don’t add to your debt; don’t add to your stress.
Avoid using credit cards, don’t ask for loans from friends or family, and start sticking to a budget.
7. Find a buddy
Being in debt can sometimes feel lonely. You look around and see your friends and family buying new cars, going out to eat, or buying your dream wardrobe.
I know I felt alone many times. And that lonely feeling added to my stress.
I’m sure you already know this, but you are not alone. There are so many people that are in debt. Your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers.
Find someone that you can talk to openly about your debt. It’s therapeutic. I found a coworker who also had a large amount of student loan debt. I always looked forward to our money conversations. We’d share everything – our balance (she’s the first person I shared my number with!!), our jealous feelings, how we were paying it off, etc.
Everybody needs someone they can vent to. Find your person.
8. Get your spouse onboard
You need the support and encouragement of your spouse during your debt-free journey. Without them by your side, you may find yourself getting more and more stressed as you put energy into arguing with them about finances, or worse, hiding your financial situation from them.
You’re a team in this journey of life. Finances are part of it.
It’s best if you can create your debt-free plan together. You can budget together, dream of a better life together, and conquer this obstacle together.
9. Step away from social media
Social media creates an environment of jealousy and envy. These two emotions certainly affect your stress level.
Remove social media from your phone and from your life. Take away the constant reminders of the fabulous vacations your friends are taking, the envious technology they are buying, and the endless drinks they are enjoying at the bar.
You are on a mission to save money and pay off your debt. Social media will derail that progress.
10. Pay off your debt
This one might have made you laugh….or cry. Oh, just “pay off your debt” to get rid of stress? Sureeeee.
But honestly this is the only permanent way to get drastically reduce your money stresses.
You’re not going to pay off all your debt today, but I bet you could pay a little off today, some tomorrow, say $10 the next day.
Chipping away at your debt will help you chip away the stress.Chipping away at your debt will help you chip away the stress.Click To Tweet
Debt causes stress
Debt is not good for your financial health or your mental health. It is a major cause of stress and anxiety. Stress is not healthy or helpful and it won’t get you out of debt any faster.
The best way to get rid of stress debt is to get rid of your debt. But unfortunately getting rid of debt is not always easy and it’s certainly not a quick fix.
Start feeling empowered about your finances. Create a plan to get out of debt. Find a buddy to vent to. Shy away from social media. These are a few things you can do to reduce your debt stress.
Do your finances affect your mental health? What have you done to reduce your debt stress?