The roaring twenties did not start how many of us would have liked. An unfortunate lasting effect of the pandemic is that the mental health of many has suffered. Not seeing loved ones for months (or even years) has produced increased anxiety, depression, and substance abuse among the population.
If the last couple of years have you feeling down, know you’re not alone. In this article, we will go over five financial tips to help you improve your mental health so you can live a happier and more fulfilled life.
Get Control of Your Money and Mental Health
A CDC report that surveyed adults across the country in June of 2020 found the following:
- 31% of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety/depression
- 13% reported having begun or increased substance use
- 11% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past month
- 26% reported stress-related symptoms
Many feel anxious because they feel unprepared for an uncertain future. You can start feeling more confident about the future by creating and sticking to an appropriate budget.
Grant Bledsoe, CFA, CFP encourages having a plan in place that reports on your current financial situation, articulates [your] objectives, and maps a path to achieve them. This plan truly reduces stress.
Creating a budget that works can be pretty straightforward.
Here are a few quick things you should do.
1. Begin Tracking Your Expenses
You cannot control something you do not know about. To get a complete picture of your finances, you must become aware of your spending habits.
Once you have full knowledge, you will see areas you can improve and succeed.
2. Organize Your Monthly Expenses
You will need to take inventory of your expenses every month. There are two kinds of expenses: fixed and variable.
Fixed expenses are things that you know are going to happen every month.
Here are ordinary fixed expenses:
- Mortgage or Rent
- Auto or Moto/RV Payment
- Cell Phone
- Natural Gas
- Health/Auto/Life Insurance Premiums
Add those fixed expenses up and have that total handy.
Variable expenses change from month to month.
Here are some examples:
- Fuel/Gas for Vehicles
- Restaurant Food
Knowing how much your fixed and variable expenses are will help you clarify what positive changes you need to make to manage your money.
3. Identify Your Irregular Expenses
Monthly expenses only tell a part of the story. What about birthdays, anniversaries, and the holiday season? You will eliminate financial stress when you begin handling money proactively instead of reactively.
Here’s are typical irregular expenses:
- Vehicle Registrations
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
A simple example is vehicle registration.
- Yearly vehicle registration: $240 yearly due in one payment
- $240/12 months = $20 monthly
That $20 each month now will be added to a separate savings account that will become the irregular expense savings account.
Now, when the car registration is due, you will transfer the $240 from the irregular savings account into your checking account and pay it.
You are now proactive and can live without stressing about these irregular payments.
Practice Financial Gratitude
If you are dreading your day-to-day life, you may need some to remind yourself of the things you have. So often, we are focused on things we do not have. How about taking a moment to remember and acknowledge the many things we do have?
Simply reminding yourself that you have food in the fridge, clean water, and a roof over your head can bring positive emotions.
Many times, you may feel you have to do something. Switching that to practice gratitude can lead to a better outlook on the daily grind.
Practicing gratitude with your money may seem a bit tricky. Even if you are not in the financial position you want to be in, you can still be grateful for where you are and for your progress.
Be grateful for your job, money in the bank, and a clear mind that you can use to improve yourself (and your finances in the process).
Enough Hustle, Seriously
The infatuation with working 24/7 is not a badge of honor.
You do not have to accept every work assignment or overtime slot.
We all need to recharge periodically.
Burnout is inevitable if you are hustling every day.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. You may be feeling groggy because you have not walked outside for weeks (or months).
Get outside, even if it is only for 15 minutes.
Cut Out Financial Negativity
The more entrenched social media is in our lives, the more we play the dangerous financial comparison game.
Wow! Look at Ben, he’s on another vacation to Greece, and I’m stuck here in my cubicle eating trail mix with only 3 minutes left on my lunch break.
We have all had that thought at one point. Comparing your daily life to someone else's is unhealthy and makes us feel crummy in your tummy. Avoid this terrible feeling by limiting your exposure to social media.
In 2020, daily social media usage was 145 minutes per day. We spend over two hours looking at Ben’s vacation to Greece and feeling terrible about it.
Imagine if you spent that extra two hours a day pursuing a side hustle. How much better would your finances be if you made an additional 0 a month?
Cutting social media use to 30 mins per day significantly reduces depression and loneliness.
You can ask Ben about his Greek vacation when you meet up for coffee.
Be Patient With Yourself
Once you have a stable footing, do not obsessively check your accounts every day.
Remember, mistakes are a necessary part of this journey. Take note of your mistake, forgive yourself, and do not make it again.
Know you are on the right track and only look at statements/accounts a few times a month.
You are on the right path when you catch yourself thinking about the weekend’s sporting event or thinking about the sweet parts of life.
Take it one day at a time and put one foot in front of the other.
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