How to navigate financial stress

Financial stress can happen at any stage of our life. Whether it’s the anxiety of being able to afford rent AND groceries, or managing the mortgage with low wage growth, it can make you feel like everything is spiralling out of control.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

These three simple steps can help put you on the right track and minimise your feeling stressed and overwhelmed when it comes to your finances. 

Step 1: Create a budget that works for you.

Sit down and breathe in and out. Try and make sure you have a clear mind (and remind yourself: “Don’t worry, soon I’ll be in control of my finances because I’m going to start a budget!”)

The first step for a budget is to create lists of what you spend your money on.

List One: Write down a list of your ‘mandatory’ spending. For example rent, mortgage repayments, car insurance, electricity bills, groceries, etc. Estimate how much you need to spend on each per week and calculate the total.

List Two: Create a second list for your ‘fun’ spending. For example: going out to dinner with friends, going to your favourite local bakery, seeing a movie with your friends. Estimate how much you need to spend on each per week and calculate the total.

List Three: Create a third list of things you want to save for. For example:  save $50 per week for a house deposit or save $75 a week for an annual holiday with the kids. Estimate how much you need to spend on each per week and calculate the total.

Now you know what you need to spend (List One), what you have to spend (List Two) and what you want to save for (List Three).

With that in mind, write down your weekly income or salary. Minus the total of List One. What is leftover is what you have to spend on List Two and List Three. This will depend on your priorities. For example, you could move the $50 budget from going out with mates to saving for a holiday.

List One:
Rent: $250
Groceries: $50
Bills: $50
Total List One: $300

List Two:
Restaurant/Eating out: $75
Buying weekly book: $20
Total List One: $95

List Three:
Holiday: $50
Emergency amount: $100
Total List One: $150

My income is $700 per week (after-tax). After I subtract List One (my mandatories) from my income I have $400 leftover for List Two and List Three. Fortunately, the total amount of List Two and List Three is $245 which will fit within my salary, so I’ve decided I’d like to increase my holiday budget by an extra $50 so I can get away sooner.

Step 2: Make one financial goal over a 6 month period.

Try to have more focus on your finances and what you hope to achieve. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
  • Save for a holiday
  • Make an investment each month (example: save $125 each week to buy $500 worth of shares each month)
  • Save to start your own business
  • Surprise a loved one with a big birthday surprise 
group of happy young people dancing and have fun on party in modern home bacony with sunset and ocean in background
If you use the budgeting example from Step 1, you can add a financial goal into List Two or List Three and make it part of your budget so it’s easier for you to plan for. Also, make sure you keep track of how it’s going and adjust as you need to. Once you’ve completed your financial goal, you’ll feel 100% in control of your finances. Don’t forget, it’s all in your power!

Step 3: Meditate for 10 minutes every day.

It might seem like the ‘trendy’ thing to do these days, but meditation is great and for good reason. Many studies suggest that meditation can reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.

You can start your meditation journey by dedicating just 10 minutes each day to destress and focus on your breathing. Gradually you’ll notice those financial woes are still there, but you can manage them much better. And there are so many resources online for you to tap into: apps, YouTube and websites!

Need extra help managing stress or maybe even some extra support? Check out Headspace or Beyond Blue for useful tips and information.

Disclaimer: Beforepay Group Ltd, ABN: 63 6933 925 505. Beforepay allows eligible customers to access their pay and provides budgeting tools. Beforepay does not provide financial products, financial advice or credit products. The views provided in this article include factual information and the personal opinions of relevant Beforepay staff and do not constitute financial advice. Please read our Terms of Service and the Terms and Conditions of our Pay Advance carefully before deciding whether to use any of our services.