4 Methods to Melt Your Financial Stress.

If you lost your job tomorrow, would there be a list in your head right away of things you could do to hang on or would you just be at a complete loss?

Financial knowledge will allow you to better assess your options and create a plan without getting overwhelmed. However, even with the best laid plans and all the financial literacy in the world, it’s impossible to completely eliminate financial stress — so how do you cope?

1. Have a clear picture of your financial situation.
Do you know your average monthly spend? Do you know how much you owe, the interest rate on your debts, and how much you pay each month in interest charges? Have you ever tracked and categorized your expenses to identify areas (car? dining out? home improvement?) where you could cut back if required?

Avoiding these questions is understandable because the answers may lead to some hard lifestyle choices but turning a blind eye to your real situation will only lead to never-ending financial stress. You need to clarify your situation, collect and analyze your data, and then start creating a plan of attack.

2. Accept your mistakes.
Move on from any emotional reaction and learn to live with any poor financial decisions from your past. Regret and anger won’t make that beach vacation you took on your credit card disappear! That beach vacation is long gone, just focus on your plan to channel more money towards paying for it!

If you need to pass on a night out with the gang because you want to put that $75 towards your card, then just come out and tell them. More than 50% of Canadians live paycheque-to-paycheque, so you won’t be surprising anybody!

3. Set small, achievable financials goals to bolster confidence and measure progress.
If you have credit card debt, try adding $100 to your monthly minimum credit card payment. If you have no credit card debt, open a TFSA and contribute a $100 a month. A hundred bucks might seem like a modest amount, but it is a realistic goal that will get you started and will help a lot more than you think.

Did you know that a $100 monthly deposit into your TFSA ($1200 year) from age 18 to 65 with will grow to almost $400K based on historical stock market returns?

Adding $100 monthly to the minimum 3% payment on a $5K credit card debt will cut the time required to pay off the balance from 251 months down to 38 months and save you $4500 in interest charges!

4. Get inspired and stay motivated.
Follow a personal finance YouTuber or blogger that you really connect with, hang a goal chart or progress tracker on the wall, talk with a friend or relative who has the same issues and work together — there are lots of methods and resources available to help you, even with a limited budget.  It’s critical to maintain a positive attitude and don’t beat yourself up — there are plenty of others in the same boat!

The ultimate goal is to completely eliminate financial stress by building passive income, so you don’t have to go to work everyday to pay the bills. Achieving this goal will take time and there is bound to be some stress along the way. Learn to cope and stay focused on your goals.