According to the American Psychological Association, at least 62% of Americans report feeling stressed about their finances. This is data from a study conducted in 2017, before we had any idea how many layers of stress were right around the corner in 2020. In today’s anxiety-inducing climate, it’s time to #TakeCare and eliminate excess stress from our lives. One of the most underrated ways to practice self-care is by reducing financial stress—and it’s easier than it sounds.
Here are simple, research-based ways to zen out your financial life, because you’ve got enough to worry about.
Make one spending decision at a time.
Have you ever felt exhausted after a long day of shopping, even if you didn’t physically exert that much energy? This is because every decision we make depletes our willpower a little bit. When we make a number of consecutive decisions, we drain our resources completely. Psychologists call this “decision fatigue,” and this mental state can lead to rash decisions. In order to avoid unnecessary over spending, make one financial decision at a time. Plan ahead. If you know you’ll be making several big purchases in the coming weeks or months, space them out, so you don’t wear yourself out.
Track your spending.
There are a number of great money management apps available, or you can simply make a note in your phone devoted to tracking purchases. A pen and paper works great too. Whatever your method, the simple act of taking a few moments to record a purchase affects how we think about our spending. It makes every purchase feel real. In the era of online shopping and saved credit card information, it is easy to mindlessly press a couple buttons and boom—you’ve spent money without really thinking. The mindful act of writing it down will help you budget later on, identify problem areas, and conserve valuable mental energy.
Communicate your concerns and your needs.
It sounds simple, but one of the best ways to eliminate excess financial stress is by practicing open communication. Feeling a loss of control over any situation creates anxiety, and this is especially true when it comes to spending money. If you’re splitting a purchase with friends or a partner—whether it’s something small, like a meal, or big, like furniture—be direct and upfront about how much you intend to spend. Having this discussion before making any decisions ensures that everyone is on the same page, and eliminates any stressful uncertainty from the equation.
When in doubt, work out.
Everybody knows that exercise releases endorphins, which is a super stress reliever, but research shows that regular exercise could also save you money in the long run. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that exercise can save you anywhere from $500 to $2,500 annually. Those savings are the result of fewer medical bills, which is an especially comforting thought in the year 2020. Exercise really is the ultimate self-care—not only is it good for your health and your mental wellbeing, it’s even good for your wallet.