Destress and simplify your financial life
With the economic news of 2023, it should come as no surprise that more and more Americans are feeling stress related to their personal finances. In a recent survey, 70% of Americans admitted to feeling financial stress. Concerns about inflation, economic instability, failing banks and a string of rate hike by the Federal Reserve can have that effect on people.
Not only that, but managing your personal finances can seem like a complex and difficult task. That last thing you want to do is miss a payment or lose an important tax document that came in the mail.
While there are many things about the economy that are beyond your control, there’s still plenty that you can do to take better control of your finances—and how they make you feel. Having good financial habits can go a long way to easing the stress that you feel about money.
There are two ways that you can better manage your emotions around your personal expenses and simplify your life. One is through how you manage your finances, and the other is how handle your money, including saving, investing and spending.
Here are some ideas that tackle both approaches to help you take the sting out of financial stress. The first topic we’ll cover is how you manage your finance to help relieve stress, and for the first strategy, Guaranteed Rate has a tool that will be a huge help.
1. Put some financial knowledge in your pocket
As they say, there’s an app for everything. And while many apps don’t do a great job of reducing stress (more on that below) there’s an app for getting a handle on your finances. Just spend a few minutes in your operating systems app marketplace and you’ll find budgeting, investing, saving and expense tracking apps. There are also banking apps that actually allow you to move your money around.
These can help make it easier to manage your finances. Having a budget is a great way to feel like you’re more in control of your money. And having access to your bank or lender at all times allows you to know your options and make quick decisions to help you reach your goals.
Introducing the Rate App
Guaranteed Rate has a new Rate App that combines your financial wellness with your overall wellness. It’s full of inspiration, information, tools, and financial products that can help you reduce your financial stress. It’s full of life-enhancing content that can lead to a happier, healthier you.
The new Rate App gives you access to financial products that could help you reduce high-interest debt, save for a home, or get the funds needed to improve your current home. You can find insurance products, helping mortgage and homeownership content and many financial tools and calculators within the app.
What’s more, the Rate App will help you destress and live healthier with an extensive video library of free fitness and nutrition classes. You can download the Rate App for free today.
2. Consolidate accounts
A big part of destressing is similar to decluttering. The fewer things you have to think about when it comes to your money, the easier it is for you to keep track of everything. One way to do that is by cutting down on the number of active checking, saving and retirement accounts you use. You’ll be less likely to overdraft an account, or forget about it entirely, if you only have to pay attention to one or two.
3. Save some trees and go paperless
As the first lender to offer a 100% Digital Mortgage process, we’re big fans of saving some trees in the financial industry. Most financial institutions offer you the option of receiving your documents via email or a secure portal. Thus, freeing you from a constant barrage of papers.
Going digital has a few benefits:
- Easier to keep track of important information
- More secure
- Less waste, of course
And most importantly, less stress.
4. Automate payments
Many financial institutions and utility companies give you the option of automatically paying what you owe each month. When you sign up for these options, you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment again. You should keep track of how much you owe each month, but you won’t have to send in a monthly payment, which even lets you save on stamps.
Personal changes you can make
Here are some ideas for handling your money that could allow you to feel better about your finances.
5. Create a budget
As mentioned above, creating a budget is one way that takes some of the stress and uncertainty out of your monthly expenses. But to many people, creating a budget feels like a homework assignment they’re destined to fail. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Using a budgeting app can help you understand how much money comes in each month, and where the money goes. Take your after-tax earnings each month, subtract all of your living expenses, and what you’re left with is your discretionary income. Once you know that, you can start making decisions about where you’re spending your money, and how much you can put away for later. Simply by knowing this information will help you feel more fiscally responsible.
6. Be smart about subscriptions
This is an obvious way to cut down on expenses, but it’s always a good reminder. If there are magazines you receive but don’t read as much as you used to, or websites that you pay for but don’t use, cancel them.
If you use streaming services to watch TV, consider cancelling some of them. One approach some people take is to keep a few services until they’re all caught up on their favorite shows on those apps. Then they cancel those apps, and renew their memberships to other apps and get caught up on their other shows. Of course, you should review your user agreements before doing this.
This type of thinking applies to any service you use that has a recurring payment. It really comes down to finding ways to be smart about the things that you spend your money on.
7. Don’t let social media fool you
It can be hard when you see pictures of friends and family—or influencers—celebrating their latest exotic vacation or big purchase to not feel a twinge of jealousy. That FOMO is natural, but it can also lead you to bad spending decisions. A recent study showed that three in five Americans paid more attention to their friends’ spending habits than their saving habits.
You know that what you see on social media isn’t usually the whole truth, but a carefully curated version of the truth about peoples’ lives. That doesn’t mean it can’t cause you stress. If it does, consider spending less time on social media or limiting who you follow. While you may miss out on a gender reveal or two, you’ll also miss some of those triggers that cause you financial stress.
8. Build a cushion of savings
A big part of the worry many people have when it comes to money is that they won’t have money they need if something were to happen. That’s why building up a savings account can help you feel less at risk.
This is often called paying yourself first, where the first thing you do with your pay check each month is to put a portion of it directly into savings. Because it’s the first thing you do with that money, you’re less likely to feel like you missed it. And this is a great technique that you can automate.
As that money builds up over time, you can decide how to use it. It could be a “rainy-day fund” or a “piggy bank” you can crack open for later splurges.
You’re in control
It’s important to remember that you’re in control of your finances, and that you can control the amount of stress it causes you. If you ever feel that you aren’t in control, it’s always a good idea to reach out to an expert and ask for advice. With a planned approach, you can get your finances in order and reduce your daily stress.