There’s no need to feel taxed during tax season! If you’re feeling the pressure, you’re not alone: almost 72 percent of Americans feel stressed about money. The good news is that there are lots of ways to proactively transform your mindset toward your budget, taxes, and all things finance related.
Investing in self care can do wonders for your bank account. That’s why we’ve partnered with H&R Block to outline seven effective steps to help take your financial stress down a notch. It’s all about taking the guesswork out of your finances so you can feel confident about building a strong financial future.
1. Prioritize Your Physical Health
Check in with yourself first before you sit down to decipher your finances. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise, because these factors all contribute to your emotional well-being. You must feel confident and empowered to take control of your financial future, so give yourself the mental and physical resources to confront your money issues head on.
Boost your brainpower and willpower by getting some fresh air and staying hydrated. While these suggestions may sound obvious, research has shown how these factors go a long way in keeping your mind sharp! Move your body and take those vitamins in between filling up on large portions of fruits and veggies daily—a recipe for happiness that will start your financial journey on the right track.
2. Use Mindful Spending Hacks
There’s no need to quit cold turkey when it comes to your purchase patterns. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your budget, take some time to reflect on your routine and make a few small changes to your habits. If you order takeout for lunch every day, try bringing lunch one or two days per week. If a new designer dress or suit catches your eye, wait a few days before buying it. If you forget about it in the meantime, you will have saved yourself from a regrettable impulse buy. The same holds true for grocery shopping—don’t go with an empty stomach unless you want three bags of chips too many.
A few tweaks to your mindfulness routine can make a big impact. Stay in the present with deep breathing techniques to relax while mulling over a purchase. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about an upcoming big expense, try meditation to stay grounded. Connecting with your present emotions can be a great way to determine if the object you’re about to purchase is really going to satisfy whatever may be bothering you, or if it’s a temporary method of avoiding the real issue. Of course, lots of purchases are necessary, and if you’re still feeling anxious, a guided meditation app or a rollerball of orange essential oil may help slash your worries and reconnect you to the here and now.
3. Declutter Your Bills And Debt
Did you ever hide under a blanket from those closet monsters as a kid? Well, many of us still cling to that same you-can’t-see-me-if-I-can’t-see-you principle as adults when it comes to our finances. Yet not keeping an eye on your payments doesn’t equate to less hassle. Instead it complicates your credit score since late payments create red flags in your payment history, showing creditors you may risk not repaying your loans. If possible, set up automatic payments to get your credit score back on track.
The key here is to clarify then simplify. Start by making a list of all payment stress points. Rank each stress point from most to least necessary, from college loans to that expensive gym membership you may not use enough to justify over a more affordable option. Cancel all payments lowest on the list, then identify any areas in which you could be saving more. Are their creative alternatives to certain monthly fees that you could replace with cheaper or free options? Minimize and automate payments where you can, then organize a calendar labeling all of your due dates and payment amounts.
4. Eliminate Toxic Influences
Avoid letting other people’s opinions or lifestyles influence your financial choices. Whether that means you stop loaning money to friends, start splitting bills with a significant other, or unfollow big spenders on social media, it is crucial to your financial sanity to establish healthy social boundaries. The need to “keep up with the Joneses” can cause a financial downward spiral since those one-time expenses can add up quickly, especially if they are out of your budget.
Grab a journal and write out a list of your typical weekly splurges, then identify where you’re spending in excess and establish alternatives so your social life doesn’t derail your budget. For instance, if you’re constantly ordering multiple rounds of drinks while out with friends, next time suggest a BYOB restaurant instead.
5. Talk It Out With A Mentor
If you’re feeling daunted by all of these financial decisions, communication with a trusted friend or family member can be invaluable. Designate your point person—someone you deem financially savvy with good judgement—to brainstorm money solutions with if they’re willing. Reduce your emotional overload by setting up your support system. Having a sounding board for financial decisions will reduce your mental burden once you explain your worries aloud and hear back from someone who probably has been in your shoes before. Keep your mentor at the center of your money management routine to learn and grow your financial confidence.
6. Invest In Professional Advice
Sometimes self-care—financial or emotional—requires more in-depth guidance. That’s when it’s time to reach out to experts to resolve hurdles and create a strategy to find solutions that will work for you. Whether that means a therapist or a financial planner, an expert opinion can clear up any misunderstandings about your needs and help you set up your step-by-step short and long-term goals. Don’t let negative self-talk, like “I’ll never be able to pay off my debt,” turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Seeking professional help may spark your understanding of your own financial motivations (like saving up for an exciting trip!) and mitigate any confusion surrounding your path to prosperity. Financial planning shouldn’t exhaust your time or health, so if you’re finding it difficult to change your outlook, consider reaching out to the experts.
7. Remember To Celebrate
Don’t forget to treat yo’ self! The most important part of financial planning is getting started, so don’t stress about doing it perfectly. Acknowledge your efforts as you check in on your progress toward savings, retirement or a rainy day fund, and also deal with any bills that need attention. Give yourself credit where it’s due. Small markers like enjoying a favorite baked good or making plans to cook dinner with a friend can be a great motivator.
Financial planning takes discipline, and often the first steps can be the hardest. Once you get in a good routine, you’ll start to feel the benefits in every aspect of your life, which will likely include watching your financial anxiety fade in the rearview mirror.