Money stress can have a long term impact if you don’t manage it
Money anxiety, also called financial anxiety, stems from the uncertainty of the future. It manifests itself in different ways from hoarding and excess savings to bad spending habits and impulse spending. Sometimes it can derive from fear of not having the resources available to meet your needs or face challenges that lie ahead.
Is stress bad?
One thing to know is that worrying is a natural response in most situations, and not all stress is bad. Small amounts of stress can keep you motivated and excited about life. However, constantly worrying about money can negatively impact your physical and mental well-being, interfering with your ability to sleep, work, and make decisions effectively.
But what if I told you that there was a way to worry less and improve your financial situation at the same time? It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. In fact, it’s a method that’s been used by many successful people for years.
Managing money stress by scheduling time to worry about money
In his 1948 book, ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,’ Dale Carnegie wrote, “Those who do not know how to fight worry die young.” So the question is, how do you fight worry? One effective technique is scheduling time to worry, commonly referred to as ‘worry time.’
What is worry time?
Worry time is a technique that involves scheduling a specific time during the day to worry.
How worry time works?
Basically, you set aside a specific time each day to worry about things. During this time, you allow yourself to worry as much as you want. You can even write down your worries if it makes you feel better.
But here’s the key: once your scheduled worry time is over, you don’t allow yourself to worry about anything else for the rest of the day. This means that you can’t dwell on your worries or let them stress you out.
Scheduling worry time involves a three-part process:
Awareness: Recognize when you are worried.
Delay: Acknowledging worrying thoughts when they happen and pushing them aside for later.
Worry time: Re-engaging with all worrying thoughts at the scheduled time.
Benefits of scheduling worry time
Scheduled worry time may seem like a strange concept, but it can be surprisingly effective. Studies have shown that people who use this technique are more likely to achieve their financial goals and overcome what they perceive as their weaknesses. They’re also less likely to experience anxiety and depression. It also:
• Increases your productivity
Reducing the time spent worrying leaves you with more time and energy to handle more activities. It also ensures you remain productive throughout the day. It also frees up mental space allowing you to be more present and engaged in other areas of your life.
• Provides for effective and purposeful worrying
Focusing on your worries and possible solutions in a non-distracted manner provides for effective and purposeful worrying. It also allows you to create action plans which help keep you accountable for following through.
• Reduces the harmful effects of stress
Constant worrying can lead to clinical anxiety, depression, and physical ailments such as lower-back pain, breathing difficulties, and stomach pains. 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related conditions and complaints, including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
How to maximize the benefits of your worrying time
To reap the full benefits of scheduling worry time involves a little preparation and setting the scene.
Here are tips to help you maximize the benefits of worry time:
1) Decide on the time and place
Decide how much time you need to worry, preferably between 15 – 30 minutes. You also have to set a routine. A consistent time for worrying, preferably in the evening, for example, between 6:00 to 6:30 pm. Scheduling worry time early in the evening lets you accumulate and compartmentalize worries during the day. It also gives you time to decompress and transition into a relaxing activity before calling it a night.
2) Choose an uncomfortable place
You don’t want to associate where you sleep or relax with stress! A hard chair, bench, or cold floor are excellent choices. Avoid places like your bed or couch because you may start associating them with stress, making it hard for you to sleep or relax there.
3) Push all your worries to the scheduled time
Trying not to worry is an exercise in futility because it is an example of thought suppression (trying not to think about something does not work).
Research indicates that the more you try not to think about something, the more likely it will be on your mind. If you are skeptical, try not to think about ‘pink elephants’ for the next 5 seconds. Did you succeed? The same logic applies to worrying: the more you try not to think about them, the more they will be on your mind. That’s why you commit to worrying about it – later. If you need to, write it down to think about it during your scheduled worry time, but don’t think about it until then.
Writing down your worries will help keep you organized and give you peace of mind since you won’t forget anything important. It also means that worries stay out of sight, out of mind, until you’re scheduled to prepared to tackle them. Though it may be difficult at first, practice makes perfect—it gets easier with time.
4) Address your worries
An excellent way to spend worrying time is to plan steps and strategies to help you cope effectively with your worries. So, write down all your fears and concerns during worry time, being as specific as possible. For every worry, ask yourself what you can do about it and note the possible solutions. If you can change the situation, write down the answer and steps you can take to achieve it. If it’s beyond your control, work on accepting the situation and letting go.
Everyday tips to address money worries include:
• Get educated
Financial literacy will help you understand how money works while giving you the necessary resources to make informed decisions.
• Plan for the future
What do you want your money to do for you? What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 – 10 years? Knowing what you want will help you set financial goals to achieve them. Financial goals provide the road map for the future. They will guide how you budget, spend, save, and invest. They will also motivate you to start working toward your ideal future now. Get connected with the future you, and motivate you to start preparing today.
• Build an emergency fund with at least six months of living expenses.
Building this fund may take time and effort. It may involve having the confidence that you can handle any unexpected financial obstacle that life throws your way will make this achievement well worth it.
While a budget won’t make you money, it helps you direct your money where it is needed. In addition, simply having a budget can effectively reduce stress.
• Use worry time to review your spending
If you’re like most people, tracking your spending is probably not something you do on a regular basis. But if you’re trying to get a handle on your finances, it’s an important step to take.
There are a few good reasons why tracking your spending can help reduce your financial worries. First, it can give you a better idea of where your money is going. This can help you find ways to cut back on unnecessary expenses.
Second, tracking your spending can help you spot potential problems before they get out of control. For example, if you notice that you’re spending a lot of money on dining out, you may want to consider cooking more meals at home.
If you know how much you’re spending each month, it’s easier to make sure that your spending doesn’t exceed your income.
For example, sell some of your handicrafts on Etsy. While not every hobby will generate significant income, your favorite activity at least stands a shot at lining your wallet.
• Consider consolidating your debt if it’s worrying you
If you have credit cards that you’re not repaying on time, chances are you’re paying between 16% and 30% in interest. These payments can add up. With debt consolidation, you can combine multiple sources of debt into one monthly payment. This way, you’re only paying interest on one balance so that you can lower your overall payments. In turn, you might be able to pay off your debt faster and start putting your money in other places.
5) Transition from worry time
Always set a timer for worry time, and plan for the next activity. For example, after worry time, you can plan to either cook, watch a good movie, take a walk or go for a run, or call family or friends. Once the timer goes off, quickly transition to the next activity.
Scheduling time to worry about money will actually benefit you
If you can commit to doing this every day, you’ll be surprised at how much less stressed you feel about money. Worry time gives you a chance to get all of your worries out in the open, and then let them go.
Creating actionable plans will help you focus your energy on finding solutions, ensuring that the scheduled time to worry is more effective. The plans will also keep you accountable.