Your car breaks down, your kid rips a hole in her fifth pair of pants in one month, or you’re out of milk again! Whatever the trigger, you are now riding the avalanche of stressful money thoughts. And suddenly, you are overwhelmed and money is stressing you out again.
“Shoot, we are out of milk! I’ll have to stop to pick some up. I don’t have any cash though. How much is in our checking? I don’t know! Probably not much. I’ll just put it on the credit card. How close are we to maxing that thing out? Ugh! I don’t want to see THAT bill next month! We never have enough money!” Any feelings of contentment fly out the window just by looking at an empty gallon of milk.
5 Ways to Ease Your Mind
I’m starting to feel anxious myself just by writing those words because I know what it feels like when you’re always stressed out about money. So I created some ways for you to immediately begin easing your mind when money is stressing you out.
1. Focus on what you have.
When we go into a negative spiral with our thoughts, we tend to bring up all the things we don’t have. My daughter once again ripped a hole in her pant and needs new pants (True story. 5 pairs in 1 month!), and she needs new tennis shoes, and my son needs a new coat soon, and my roots need colored, and the living room carpet needs replaced, and on and on. Spiraling down and down. The trick is to catch yourself before you spiral down too far and refocus on what you have.
My daughter once again needs new pants. Stop. Refocus. That girl is so incredibly active! She is always moving and naturally athletic. I wonder what she will end up doing with those talents.
Whenever money is stressing you out, make that mental shift and focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. We often take all the wonderful things we do have for granted. I’m blessed to have my children, my husband, my parents, and my in laws. We have a comfortable home, food to eat, reliable vehicles, etc.
2. Be aware when you start to compare
In this digital age, it is so easy to make split second comparisons when the lives of so many others are at our fingertips. Hop on social media and you’ll see who just bought a vehicle or who is vacationing on white sandy beaches.
In an instant, you may think you wish you had that. But if you stop and take a moment to really think about it, you will realize those are not every day happenings in those people’s lives. They aren’t buying cars and vacationing every weekend.
Honestly, I don’t want the new car and the car payments they most likely will be paying for the next 3-5 years. I would much rather own my older van with no payments.
When you look at other people’s lives, you often don’t know what else is going on in their life. Last year, I was the one posting pictures of my family vacationing on a beautiful sandy beach. What most people don’t know is that we ended up cutting that vacation short to come home for my grandma’s funeral.
Life may look perfect from the outside, but you never know what another person is going through in their life. A picture is just one moment in time, usually with the mess behind the scenes cropped out.
Take notice when you feel jealous or you start to compare your life to the imagined life you’ve created for someone else. Remember, it’s not the whole story. When money is stressing you out, double check that comparison hasn’t crept into your thoughts.
3. Needs Vs. Wants
When you get right down to it, you probably have your most basic needs met: food, water, shelter. Marketers are trying their best to convince us that we need to buy a certain brand or the latest tech because it is the safest or the best. (This is one of the reasons why we mute or fast forward through TV commercials at our house.) Don’t get fooled into thinking your want is a need. So many of the things in our lives are luxuries, and it helps to keep them in perspective.
Only a few months into my time as a stay at home mom, we ran into some financial issues. Faced with some tough choices, we were able to distinguish between wants and needs pretty fast. In fact, we ended up living without cable and a TV antenna for over a year. We chose Netflix and DVD’s from our local library instead.
Once you start thinking in terms of wants and needs, it is easier to prioritize your wants. If money is stressing you out, make sure you’re not confusing wants and needs.
4. Money won’t buy you happiness.
I’ll give you that money will help provide you with food, water, shelter and a sense of security, but basic needs don’t have to be grandiose. Also, having an emergency fund put back will give you a sense of security. If your money situation does not make you feel secure, look at the next point.
Sure. Spending your money on new shoes or a new phone may give you a brief period of time where you seem to feel happy, but after a while the shininess wears off and you will start looking for something else to get that hit of happiness from. Things and stuff don’t make you happy. I am not even sure happiness is the right word in this case.
True happiness or joy doesn’t come from spending money. It comes from a sense of love, connection, and belonging. I feel it when I laugh with my husband and children. I feel it when I sing along with the radio in my van or when I walk in the woods. I feel a sense of connection with loved ones, with my gifts, and with nature. These are the things that bring me joy. I am sure you have these moments of joy, too.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve lived on less money, but I am more content. More money doesn’t equal more contentment. When money is stressing you out, ask yourself if you are trying to buy happiness. If so, find an activity that brings you joy and connection instead.
5. Money is a tool to help you live the life you want.
If you are like me, you’re striving to live your best life, the life that you really want to live. You are being intentional with your relationships with family, intentional with how you’re raising your family, intentional with how you’re taking care of yourself, and you’ve probably have lists of other ways you want to live a more intentional life.
But here is the thing. The best way to be intentional with your life is to be intentional with your money. Money touches so many other parts of our lives. It only makes sense to have our money in order, so we can use it to back our dreams and to live our life intentionally.
Creating a plan for your money (AKA: a budget) helps you to do this. When your money feels out of control, a budget puts you back in control. A budget isn’t there to restrict you. A budget is your intentional plan to make your dreams and life goals happen.
If money is stressing you out, make a plan for spending your money. Money is just like every other part of your life. If you want to make changes, you have to be intentional. (Learn how to make your budget here.)
Over the next couple months, I am going to focus on how to be intentional with your money and provide resources to help you stop feeling so overwhelmed with money.
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