How to stop stressing out about money

Right now, at this moment, how much money do you have? Before you answer: Does the mere question begin to stress you out?

If so, you’re not alone. According to the number crunchers at theAmerican Psychological Association, the top three causes of stress have money at their root.

Those stress inducers would be the actual money category, work problems and the economy. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’ve probably been stressed out at some point about all three of those issues.

What can you do to stop being small minded around money issues?

Two options: win the lottery or change the way you think. You probably don’t have to be told that changing the way you think is a lot easier than winning that big jackpot. Here’s how to reframe your thinking around money:

Know that money fixes are temporary.

Whoever first said “money can’t buy happiness” was on to something. While it’s true that you can take a trip with money or go to a fancy restaurant, you’ll still be hungry tomorrow and back in your home when the vacation is over. Will you be happy then? Perhaps, but being happy is really about the long game.

Money can provide a temporary burst of happiness but unless you can get there without being propped up by cash, you’ll always be chasing that next big purchase. Is that any way to live?

Follow the budget.

The cornerstone of any budget is the amount of money you bring in and the amount you spend. It’s not that hard to track your finances, especially with the amazing apps and programs available. Once you have an accurate portrait of just what you owe and what you can expect to earn, you can get serious about saving.

Having extra money in the bank can be a nice stress reducer but you can only get there by living within your means. It’s not fun saying no to a purchase but in the long run, you’ll feel better knowing you’re building a stronger financial future for you and your family.

Embrace the freebies.

If you see someone beaming with a smile, it probably has nothing to do with money. They could have just been told they were loved. Maybe they’re remembering a great party they went to on the weekend. Perhaps they’re just thinking about the goofy dog waiting for them back home.

There are a lot of paths to happiness that won’t cost you a dime. Try a hike on a mountain trial. Spend the day on the beach. Lose yourself in the library. Read anything. Act like a tourist in your own town. We could go on but you get the idea.

Make the cuts.

Here’s the tough news: Being small minded about money has a lot to do with not spending money. There are dozens of ways you can cut back on your expenses.

For instance, you could take the Starbucks challenge for a month. If you forgo that daily jolt of four-dollar java for a week, you’ve got an extra $20 in your pocket. At the end of the month, you’ve saved $80 — just enough to pay your cell phone bill. See how that works? What will feel better: Getting that bill paid or having a cup of coffee that you won’t remember the next day?

Have a plan.

Suppose you were to conduct an honest survey of your friends and family about the issue of debt. You might be shocked at some of the numbers. Yes, we all carry debt. That person you seehaving a blast with their new car? They’re either paying on an installment plan with their carrier or getting slapped with huge finance charges every month as they pay off their credit card bill. The same thing applies for all those new iPhones you see people carrying around you.

Does knowing that everyone else is carrying debt ease your stress? Perhaps. However, the big difference is that you now have a plan for how to lower your debt.

Count your blessings.

Finally, you should take a moment each day to be grateful for what you have. This can cover the basics of food, shelter and clothing but counting your blessings can go a lot deeper. You can easily take plenty of things for granted, like having power every time you flip a switch or water whenever you turn on a faucet. Even having a friend you can count on means a lot.

If you really want to see how fortunate you are, then volunteer your time. Spend some time at a food bank or soup kitchen. You’ll see a lot of folks who wish they had what you have. Yet, those folks are still getting by. They’re resourceful and they haven’t given up no matter what lousy hand they’ve been dealt. Sharing your time with others can be a game changer for your attitude around money.

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