By Kurt Smith, Psy.D.
Learn more about Kurt on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor
Money-related stress doesn’t discriminate. Whether individuals are financially well off or not, most still worry about their finances: A 2016 survey by the American Psychological Association found that 61% of Americans were either somewhat or very stressed about money.
Many of us get sucked into the mindset that if we just had more money, we wouldn’t worry so much — but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case. So how can you have less money stress within your current financial situation? Here are five ways.
1. Monitor your accounts less often
Logging into your checking or savings account every day isn’t necessary or healthy. Getting a text message every time there’s a change in your account isn’t either — it just adds unnecessary stress. It’s important to keep tabs on your financial situation, but doing so a little less often can make you much happier.
2. Focus on your needs
We may believe we need the newest smartphone or a new vehicle, but these are truly luxury items we could live without. And when we pause and think about our true needs — food, shelter, water, clothing, love — and how abundantly they’re already met, we realize how commercialized our thinking can be. It can feel good to discover how much you can live without.
3. Set spending limits
It might sound counterintuitive, but having appropriate boundaries can actually be freeing. Try designating an amount to spend each month on discretionary purchases such as eating out and entertainment. You can then spend guilt-free within your boundaries. When the allotted money runs out, you’ll know you have to wait until next month to spend more. This simple step can help you live within your means and take away the stress of wondering what you can afford.
4. Remember, money is a tool
Money is understandably an emotional issue, but it’s useful to remember that at its core, money is a tool used to purchase goods or services. Assuming one already lives reasonably comfortably, more money doesn’t truly provide more security or comfort, as we sometimes want to believe. When we accept that it essentially allows us to trade with others, we can let go of the emotions we’ve attached to it and think of it just as a means of exchange.
5. Find other sources of joy
No matter how much money you have, it won’t necessarily bring you happiness or change the overall quality of your life. Some of the most joyful people have very little money, and some of the wealthiest people are still very unhappy. Try finding joy and happiness in the life you live right now. What blessings do you already have? What are you grateful for that money didn’t provide? The sooner you can find contentment in the life you already live, the quicker you’ll be able to experience lasting happiness and joy.
Don’t let money dominate your thoughts or raise your stress level. Instead, create a lifestyle that helps you live within your means and recognizes that money alone won’t provide happiness.