It’s not unusual to worry about money once in a while — say, when a surprise bill pops up out of the blue, or when your car starts giving you trouble and you know a repair is in the works. But it’s another thing to worry about money constantly, and unfortunately, 59% of Americans do just that, according to a new survey by H&R Block.
New parents, newlyweds, and recent homeowners are among those who are likely to perpetually have money concerns on the brain. And that’s understandable. Life changes can result in financial upheaval, though they’re not the only catalyst for money worries.
If you’re concerned about money to the point where it’s really all you can think about, it’s imperative that you take control of the situation. Here’s how.
1. Get on a budget
It’s easy to worry about money when you have no idea where yours is actually going. That’s why it’s important to have a budget. To set one up, list your recurring monthly expenses — everything from your rent or mortgage payment to your utility bills to your groceries. Next, factor in once-a-year expenses like roadside assistance plans or warehouse club memberships that only get paid once annually. Finally, compare your total spending to your total earnings, and see how the numbers align. If you’re effectively using up your entire paycheck on a regular basis, you’ll think to think about reducing some of your living costs to give yourself more breathing room. That, in turn, should lead to fewer money worries.
2. Build an emergency fund
Many people stress about money because they know that they don’t have much, or any, of it in the bank. But you need emergency savings because without that safety net, you risk racking up debt the next time an unexpected bill lands in your lap that your regular paycheck can’t cover. Ideally, your emergency fund should have enough money to pay for three to six months of essential living expenses. If you’re nowhere close, cut back on spending substantially until you’ve reached the lower end of that range at the very least. Knowing you have that cushion should give you some peace of mind in the face of life’s unknown costs.
3. Boost your income
The more money you earn, the fewer financial concerns you’re likely to have. If you’re perpetually stressed about money, boosting your income might help, and you can accomplish that by getting yourself a side hustle on top of your main job. That gig could be something you really enjoy, like cooking, pet-sitting, or photography, or it could be something you force yourself to do for a limited period of time until your finances are in a healthier state. You should especially consider a second job if your emergency savings are virtually nonexistent, or if a recent life event (like a wedding, new home, or birth of a child) cost you more money than expected, and you’re still reeling.
If you worry about money all the time, you need to bust out of that cycle. And the best way to do so is to start following a budget, build some cash reserves, and boost your earnings. It’ll require some effort, but the mental payoff will be more than worth it.