In the wake of the Great American Recession that gripped the United States from 2008 to 2013, psychologists, sociologists and mental health professionals are assessing the extent of damage caused by this massive economic downturn. Homes were lost, cars repossessed, marriages dissolved, and entire families were afflicted by the specter of financial stress.
Although the worst seems to be over, research studies from the American Psychological Association indicate that more than half of all Americans are still suffering from the impact of financial stress, which takes a toll not only on the wallet but also on the body, relationships and overall emotional well-being. Here are five ideas that can help you reduce financial stress:
Seek professional advice
Reducing financial stress can be approached as a form of conflict resolution, which means that it will require communication. In this case, the best communicator would be a financial professional. Not everyone may be able to retain a financial consultant; however, it may help to check with relatives, friends and even social media contacts if a professional is available to listen and give advice.
Stress often comes from loss of control; to this effect, the most difficult time is the present, but you can still try to control what happens next. Setting realistic goals is vital in any financial planning situation; for example, making a plan to save $1,000 in three months can be a reasonable and attainable goal.
Easily accessible online services can help you streamline your savings and reach your goals. A company like Billshark, with its easy-to-use app, can help you save extra cash by negotiating and helping to lower your monthly bills. Simply upload a photo of your bill to their app and let them handle the rest.
Most financial troubles emanate from debt. When setting goals, paying off credit cards and consolidating loans should be considered first. This is a time to be honest with creditors; if you feel that you are drowning in debt, you should make a point to contact credit card companies and banks for the purpose of working out payment plans, and you should also inquire about lowering your interest payments or reducing the balance owed. Another strategy may involve transferring balances to credit cards that offer lower rates of interest.
Although this is something that should have been done before falling behind in terms of personal finance, it is never too late to think about protecting your valuable assets. Inquire with a financial professional about instruments such as irrevocable trusts, which may help you shield your assets and investments from creditors and other legal plaintiffs.
Adjusting your budget and lifestyle
Making changes to the way you live and spend can be difficult, but alleviating results can be felt in just a few weeks. Cutting back on certain indulgences and making a commitment to spending the least while saving the most can be the most effective method to reduce financial stress, but it will require a strong level of commitment on your part.
Don’t let financial stress weigh you down! Follow these simple five steps and be on your way to stress-free.