11 Ways to Lower Your Money Stress
If you’re stressed about money, you’re in the company of 60% of Americans.1 Between bills, future plans, growing debt, more bills, car repairs, never-ending grocery shopping, and more freaking bills, it might all feel like a revolving door with no way out. Maybe you just feel stuck.
Hey. There is hope. There is a way out. In fact, we’ve got 11 specific ways to help you lower that money stress and start feeling peace—and even empowerment—with your money.
1. Create a budget.
So, the first step in lowering money stress is taking control of your money with, you guessed it, a budget. If you’re already rocking monthly budgets, then bravo! If you’ve gotten a little behind, it’s time to get super serious. Why? In a stressful time of feeling like things are out of control, budgeting puts you in charge, which relieves stress. Big time.
2. Remember the Four Walls.
If things are really tight, make sure you focus on covering your Four Walls first: food, utilities, shelter and transportation. In other words, you feed your family, keep the lights on, pay the rent or mortgage, and put gas in the car or get a public transportation pass. Start there. If you still have money in the budget once those things are covered, add in other needs. Then you can start thinking about wants and future money goals.
3. Have a budget meeting.
You don’t have to go this alone. Read that again and feel the stress ease a little.
You don’t have to go this alone.
Budgeting can be hard. But doing hard things is easier when you connect with others in the same situation. That’s why you need someone to help keep you accountable—someone who’s encouraging enough to cheer you on and bold enough to call you out. Got a spouse? Boom. Instant accountability. If you’re single, find that trustworthy person and sit down with them every month to check in and set up the next budget. Doing this together will help you both move forward.
4. Build an emergency fund.
Life happens. Worrying about that will give you anxiety. Preparing an emergency fund will give you peace of mind. And we could all use more peace of mind when it comes to money—aka we could all use an emergency fund.
Start with $1,000 for a starter emergency fund. Then after you’ve paid off all your debt (which we’ll dive into next), save for 3–6 months of expenses. Knowing you can stand up against a financial threat without being beaten will help you sleep better than the softest pillows in the world.
5. Pay off your debt.
You’ve probably heard us say it before, but it’s worth repeating: Debt is a weight that presses you down and holds you back. Nearly half (46%) of Americans say their debt level creates stress and makes them anxious.2 Maybe that’s because debt means your paycheck isn’t really yours. It’s too busy covering something you bought months or even years ago.
Listen: Your income is your greatest wealth-building tool. So, it’s time to take back your paycheck, to wage an all-out war on debt. You aren’t going to simply pay off your debt—you’re going to crush it. And never look back. Because the future will feel so weightless without the weight of debt—moving forward will be your only option.
How does that sound? Incredible. Stop stressing over your debt. Destroy it.
6. Track your expenses.
If you want your relationship with money to go from stressing to resting (and eventually to winning!), you have to change your actions with money. That means budgeting, as you know. And budgeting well means tracking your expenses. Every. Single. One.
Want help with this? Try Ramsey+ and test out the premium version of EveryDollar, where you get automatic bank transactions. Your expenses stream in, and you just drag and drop them to the right budget line. It’s how you track expenses quickly and accurately.
Another helpful Ramsey+ benefit? Budgeting reports on on your income and spending. At a glance, you’ll see how your money habits line up with your money goals. Pair this perk with the automatic bank transactions, and you can really take charge of your finances.
7. Create a budget line for fun.
There are seasons in your life when you’re focusing hard on saying no to extras so you can hit your money goals quicker. But some fun is important, and you still need to treat yourself—at least a little. Sometimes it’s only very little until you hit that next big goal, but that’s okay!
One way to enjoy life without going financially overboard is to make a budget line for fun money. Yes, really! Never put fun before needs, but give yourself a little budget-room to relax. Because a refreshed budgeter is a better budgeter.
8. Talk to a financial coach.
If you want to get out of your own head and get some money guidance from a professional, talk to one of our financial coaches. Not an opinionated neighbor or family member—but a legit, highly trained coach. They’ll help you create a personalized plan based on your life and your goals so you can move from being stressed with your money to having direction.
9. Get a side hustle.
First of all, make sure you know that upping your income, in and of itself, won’t solve any problems. You have to be serious about making the best money decisions, whatever your income. But if you’re doing the right steps and still feeling stressed and strapped, getting a side hustle could give you the boost you need to ease that tension.
10. Start giving.
We believe in giving. Always. Tithing to your church, donating to charities, supporting worthy causes—even if you’re in debt. It may sound crazy, but it’s actually super valuable. Generosity shifts our focus off our problems and our financial shortcomings. And when you share your income, you appreciate it more. You stress less. Contentment doesn’t come when we have enough—it comes when we see that what we have is enough. When you give, everyone wins.
11. Set goals.
We’ve mentioned goals several times. That’s because goals are what keep us going. Your money goal right now might be scraping up the $1,000 starter emergency fund. You might be ready to destroy your debt. Or you could be thinking about buying a house or saving for retirement. It’s important to set money goals and to remember every monthly budget is a piece of making those future dreams come true!
The thing is, any point along the money journey can bring us money stress. We can worry over right now and about the future. But we don’t have to!
Take a deep breath. No, really. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself you’re going to be okay. In fact—you’ll be better than okay. It all comes down to deciding you’ll make it happen. You can stop the constant worry over having enough money for that emergency, being able to retire when you’re ready, or being able to help the kids go to college.
And the way you stop worrying is by acting. But where do you start?
You need a plan. A real plan for real people under real stress. You need Ramsey+.
Ramsey+ teaches you how to go from “I’ve had it” to “I’ve got this” with your money. Plus, it comes with all the tools you need to make it happen—like the premium version of the EveryDollar budgeting app.
You don’t have to be stuck in stress. Take action. Try a Ramsey+ free trial today.