Everyone has money problems. Even the richest man in the world hasn’t always been in the best financial situation. Some families barely make ends meet, while others are increasing their standard of living and having more financial issues. And then there are those who have uncontrollable spending habits.
From university loans to groceries, credit card debt, mortgage, and health care, it seems like everything you do requires money. Money problems are one of life’s biggest stressors and can affect a person’s mental health.
Some people prefer not to open their bills or resort to unhealthy coping habits like drinking. Some even contemplate hurting themselves or taking away their life. No one can escape financial problems, but like other problems in life, this too shall pass.
No matter how hopeless the situation may seem, hold your head up high, deal with it like a strong person, and evaluate your financial status. Do not let money problems affect your mental health and restrain you from living a happy life.
They say there are more important things in life than money. However, when you can’t afford to pay your bills or are buried in debt and stress, fear can take over your everyday life.
Financial problems can lead to relationship difficulties, affect the ability to function well every day, and eventually may lead to mental health issues. The following are signs that your money worries are starting to affect your mental health:
Debts or loss of income could keep a person tossing and turning at night. In addition, having a hard financial situation can cause someone to eat more or eat less. Stress can also make an individual eat more (binge eating) or eat less / skip meals to save money.
Thus, financial worries can result in changes in sleeping and eating patterns. These two implications are both signs of depression.
Living with money problems can make a person feel down, anxious, and depressed. These feelings may lead to poor decision-making skills, poor concentration, the inability to perform everyday tasks, and low energy. Research also shows that people dealing with debt are at increased risk of developing mental health problems.
Money is a safety net; without it, a person may feel vulnerable and anxious. In addition, all the worrying about money and thinking about debt can trigger physical symptoms of anxiety such as a pounding heartbeat, shaking, sweating, and panic attacks.
Money is cited as one of the common problems in marriage. Many couples argue about expenses, school payments, and savings. When couples argue about their financial situation, and if there is a lack of communication, both spouses can get angry, irritable, and end up not talking at all.
This can cause a loss of interest in sex and dent even the strongest relationship. Couples who fight over money should have open communication. When this is not addressed and the fighting continues, the couple may end up getting divorced.
Money problems do not only affect marital problems but relationships with other people as well. It can be hard for some people to go out and socialize without money. This can lead to social withdrawal and affect relationships with friends.
People with money issues may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse (drinking alcohol or abusing recreational drugs). Some people also resort to reckless behaviors to earn more money, like gambling, making money from illegal activities, or selling valuable items, which could ultimately lead to more debt.
Some may also have thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If you are experiencing these thoughts, or know someone who has suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. Call suicide hotlines, get the support you need, or talk to someone you trust right away.
There is a cycle between mental health and money. It goes this way: financial issues cause mental health problems. If you have a mental illness, you will be unable to manage your finances well. Depression and anxiety can also affect your business and work performance, leading to income loss.
As a result, you get into more debt, which may worsen your existing money worries. Difficulties in managing your money may lead to more financial burdens and worsened mental state. The cycle goes on and on, and you may be trapped in a downward spiral of more money issues and declining mental health.
The cycle will only stop if there’s an intervention. No matter how hard it may seem now, there will always be a way out.
How do you start? You have to start from within. Break the cycle by taking care of your finances first, then take care of your mental health.
How to Cope with Financial Stress
Like any other problem in life, there are ways to cope with financial stress. You just have to know the right strategies, have the willingness to make changes, and be mentally resilient.
Here are some steps you can follow to deal with debt, financial issues, stress, and avoid mental health problems:
1. Identify Your Financial Problems
No one knows your financial situation better than you, so you start with yourself. Begin by answering the important questions, such as:
- Why are you under financial stress?
- Is it your spending habits?
- Do you have a shopping addiction?
- Are you underpaid at work?
- Is your mortgage bigger than your income?
- Are you spending way beyond your means?
There are many reasons why a person can get caught up in financial stress. It’s like a disease. Discover the cause, and you will know its cure.
If you have credit card debts, due bills, or owe anyone money, pay them off first. Also, stop using your credit cards if the debt is piling up. If you still have a student loan, find ways to settle it soon.
Being debt-free is the first step to finding financial freedom. This way, you won’t have to worry so much. You can sleep well at night, and things will not get out of control. The faster you pay your debt, the faster you will be free of financial obligations, so you’ll never have to deal with mental health problems.
3. Create a Budget
Take control of your finances by prioritizing your expenses. You can use a journal or a simple notebook for this task.
Learn the benefits of budgeting. You can follow the breakdown in this example:
Monthly Income: $9,000
Expenses per month:
- Mortgage/Rent: $1,000
- Taxes: $1,100
- Insurance: $200
- Car payments: $500
- Debt: If applicable
- Electric bill: $100
- Gas: $60
- Water Bill: $70
- Telephone Bills: $7
- Cost of groceries: $300
- Healthcare: $500
- Miscellaneous expenses: $500
- The rest: Savings
Creating a budget allows you to set limits on your spending. Stick to a budget and try not to overspend. If you have extra money, do not be tempted to spend it. It’s better to have significant savings in your bank account than go broke buying things you don’t really need.
If getting a higher, better-paying job is not an option, get a side hustle. Relying on one source of income may seem not enough nowadays. But never overwork yourself, as this can also affect your mental health. Instead, you can try freelancing online, selling candles, or getting a non-stressful part-time job.
The financial burden should be a family matter, especially if you’re married and have kids. Sit with your spouse and kids, and talk calmly about your financial situation. Explain to your kids why you can’t go on a vacation this year or have the latest gadget. Talk to your spouse about how you can tighten your belt and manage your finances well.
Talking to your family can be challenging, especially if you’re self-reliant, but talking to them can help you feel better and do something with your problems. You cannot keep on bottling up your emotions as this can affect your mental health. The sooner you seek help for your problem, the sooner it will be solved.
There are organizations, support groups, and financial service agencies that offer free counseling on dealing with significant money issues. They can teach you how to manage your debt, give you advice on managing your finances better, create and stick to your budget, find work, communicate with creditors, and seek financial assistance.
Learn how to manage your stress, and try not to overthink your problems. Take care of your physical health first: eat well, get enough sleep, do not overwork, and exercise.
Physical health can affect your mental health, so take care of it. Next, learn how to cope with stress with relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, and self-love. If you’re already struggling, worrying more will not do you any good.
If your financial situation is starting to affect your mental health a lot, talk to a mental health professional right away. You don’t need to go into the details of your financial situation if you’re not comfortable with it. Instead, you can talk to your counselor about what kind of feelings you’re struggling with. Talking to a mental health professional about your thoughts and feelings can give you great relief. Are you from Ohio or Kentucky? You can talk to a counselor at Kentucky Counseling Center. Book an appointment now and be free of your worries.