We live in a world that is ruled by money, but where no one wants to talk about it. As a result, an army of post-grads enter the world with no freaking clue about how to manage their money properly and in their own best long-term interest. Naturally, this leads many of us (myself included) to be stressed over our finances.
I don’t know about you, but I am naturally a pretty anxious person. I tend to worry about EVERYTHING… the worst case scenario is literally my best friend. While this has totally debilitated me in certain areas of my life (thats a wholeeee other story), it has actually really helped me in planning out my financial future.
As Millennials and Gen-Z-ers, we face a whole new world of stress and anxiety when it comes to money, especially compared to our parents. I mean, let’s face it; most of us have a decent amount of student loan debt, are paying $1,000+ a month to live in a teeny room without any laundry and 3 other roommates, and somehow need to come up with savings at the end of the month to put towards buying a house (that BTW, your parents had at age 25!). It just isn’t realistic anymore in the world we live in.
CUE THE STRESS! One time, I did the math out based on my own budget. If i didn’t make the conscious effort to cut back in certain areas of my life, I wouldn’t be looking at homeownership until I’m either 35 or have a second income (and right now, there is no boyfriend in sight). Obviously, that stressed me out. I don’t want to live in an apartment forever. I don’t want to have to deal with roommates, or landlords, or paying rent for the next 10 years of my life!!
And now, factor in COVID-19 and the looming recession or depression that is inevitably on the horizon, most of us are even further disadvantaged. Whether it be because you just got laid off, your rent is going up, your business is going under… times are getting tough. Stress is becoming amplified. We’re all in a panic.
Lucky (or not) for me, this is how I operate all the time anyways!! Living in a constant state of worry, but I am working on it, and I’ve made the most progress when it comes to dealing with financial anxiety. So, here are a few things I have done to help reduce (definitely not eliminate) financial worry and anxiety.
Create a Financial Plan
This has been the ultimate stress-reducer for me. I like to be in control; lack of control triggers anxiety. The best way to be in control of your money? Have a plan in place. A lot of financial stress for most of us stems from feeling like our money is out of control, and as a result we are spending everywhere and can’t seem to make any progress. This is a solvable problem, but it requires a few steps:
Take inventory of where you are at right now. How can you give someone else directions without a starting point? This is the first step. Figure out what your necessary expenses are, and then start reeling in all the rest.
Reduce expenses where you can. There are always areas we are spending money in that we just simply don’t need to be. Prioritize. And be honest with yourself!
Set a goal. This enables your plan to be progressive. Stress happens when we feel like we don’t have any money. So you’re saving for something? What is it? An emergency fund? A new car? To pay off your debt? Label it!
If you are bogged down on this step, don’t fret. I have created a course called The Financial Audit ToolKit to help you audit your finances and build out your own customizable financial plan. This lays out everything I do to make sure my spending is in check, as well as how i set goals and create my own plan, using the exact tools that I’ve used to save $50k in just 2 years. Remember, having a plan puts you in the drivers seat of your own financial life, and knowing where your money is going and how you’re going to reach you goal eliminates all of the uncertainty.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself
It’s easy to feel behind or like a failure when you see other people making $100k out of college at big-name companies, or see your friends starting businesses or getting promotions. We live in a world where we are bombarded with everyone’s highlight reel; Instagram is used to show off flashy vacations, big purchases like new cars or designer bags and the like. First of all, it is important to remember that just because someone buys these things, doesn’t mean they have a lot of money. Second of all, comparing yourself to them isn’t going to make you richer.
Naturally, we all tend to compare ourselves to our friends and the people we see on Instagram. It is human nature. But, it definitely isn’t productive and perpetuates our own anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you fall into this comparison trap:
All of our lives, and financial journey’s are unique. Some people will exit college at an advantage because they come from a place of privilege; you don’t know what their parents or family sacrificed for that.
Just because someone posts flashy pictures or has flashy material things does not mean they are rich. You don’t know the number in their bank account.
We don’t always see the hard work behind someone else’s financial success. It can be easy to forget that successful people hustle behind the scenes.
Envying someone else’s financial situation will not change yours. The end.
You are in control of your own money. You have power over your life. Remember that!
3. Knowledge is Power- Educate Yourself!
Whenever I feel stressed about something, whether it be because something in my body hurts and I think I am dying, or I get someone put on my desk at work that I don’t know how to solve, I turn to Google. The fear of the unknown can be overwhelming. My first instinct is to learn everything about it so that I can approach it with as much information as possible. Knowledge is power. Nothing makes you feel quite as confident as knowing your shit.
When you feel stressed about money, start learning. There are endless resources online (my Instagram included!) where you can learn the ins and outs of personal finance, from paying off debt to saving for retirement and investing. Take some time to really research what is keeping you up at night, whether it be debt payoff strategies or how to stop spending all your money on candles you literally don’t need. Take matters into your own hands!
The Bottom Line
Money can be annoying. It can be so annoying because it really is so important in our lives. You’ve probably heard that money doesn’t buy happiness; and it doesn’t. But it freaking helps. Money opens doors. Money is a resource and a tool we NEED to succeed. So learn how to manage it properly, because worrying about it won’t do you any good.