Stress is a part of life. It can increase productivity or performance in many cases if individuals dealing with it can use it to their benefit. However, in other areas of life, like debt, stress can lead to dread along with substantial mental and physical problems.
Long term stress can lead to depression, high blood pressure, eating disorders, obesity, excessive drinking and use of drugs. People under stress are less likely to give up smoking or other bad habits. There are ways to manage stress in general ways. But If you are crumbling with the stress of debt, there are some specific ways that you can cope with it. The following are 10 ways you can deal with the stress of debt:
- Make a list of your debts, amounts owed and prioritize them. Are there some debts that you can ignore for now or at least put off paying without incurring penalties or too much interest? Are there some you can target and pay off in a short time? Listing on paper what you owe can give you a sense of control over your life.
- List your monthly expenses. There are always expenditures that are either unnecessary or that can be reduced. Making a list enables you to see where the money is going and suggest ways as to how you can make changes.
- List what monthly payments can be eliminated or reduced. Your daily $4 coffee can be made at home or get it for $1 at the 7-11. Find a gym that is $50 per month instead of the $150 you are now paying and shower at home. There are also cell phone providers that provide the same services for lower monthly payments than you are now paying. Go down your list and see what alternatives are possible at lower cost.
- Strive to pay only 40% of your gross income toward debt. This is very doable and will leave you funds to use for recreational purposes, within limits.
- Compare income to expenses. Figure what you can pay each month to reduce the debt and not just interest.
- Stay healthy. Avoid excessive drinking and continue to exercise or start exercising. Avoid negative thoughts and realize you can tackle this problem. Have someone to talk to about your stress and debt.
- Realize that you can make a change. Be proactive in negotiating with your creditors to lower your debt or interest and know that you can reduce your monthly expenditures.
- Remain in the present. If you look at what might happen in the future, you can lose focus on what you can do now. You have control over the present and the future is not here yet.
- Seek financial help. Talk to a financial counselor, bankruptcy attorney, or coach about ways to reduce your debt.
- Have a plan to build wealth. Set aside a set amount each pay period and do not withdraw any of it. Your account will grow quickly and knowing you have money set aside is always a significant source of stress relief.