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I believe this will be the end of my mini-series on mental health cycles for now, but I definitely wanted to mention finances. Money is a common concern for everyone, but can be much more difficult for who with anxiety and depression. For example, perhaps you stay up late at night fixating on how you will manage to pay your bills. Or maybe you get so stressed that you go and spend every penny and then begin to feel immense guilt about what you’ve done. Perhaps you are so depressed or anxious that you struggle to even hold down a job because of a lack of motivation. Keep reading to find out how you can break the cycle of finances and mental health.
1. Examine Your Finances to Ease Depression
The first step is sorting things out in your mind. What exactly is the problem with your finances? Do you have enough money? Are you wasting your money? Are your bills too high? The best way to sort this out is through a written budget. I strongly recommend checking out the book Total Money Makeover for more specific budget help, but here are the basics:
- Calculate your average monthly income
- Make a list of all necessary expenses (Dave Ramsey refers to these as the “four walls”)
- Write down all minimum payments on debt and all other non-essential expenses.
- Subtract Steps 2 and 3 from Step 1.
How much money is left? I am willing to bet one of two things just happened. Either a, you realized you are totally broke at the end of the month, or b (and this was me) you saw a fairly large number after step 4 and are thinking, “But how is that true? I never have any money left over?!”
If you are in category a, you have some MAJOR work to do. My suggestion at this point is to find a way to increase your income and minimize your expenses as much as you possibly can. You have an income problem.
If you’re in the other group, you need to move on to the next step.
2. Create a Budget
Dave Ramsey says a budget is “telling your money where to go rather than asking where it went.” I’m not going to get into all of the steps of creating a budget, but essentially you need to decide exactly how much you will spend on what category. And then stick to it! If you budget $50 to go out to eat every month, when that money is gone, you have to wait until the next month to go out to eat. Budget every single dollar. After your expenses are budgeted, decide where the rest will go. Do you want to put it in savings? Pay off extra debt? Give some away? Use it for upcoming repairs? The possibilities are endless. But YOU decide, and put it there. Don’t let the money just walk away.
3. Pay Off Debt To End Financial Anxiety
Debt is a scary thing and is ruining the lives of so many Americans. I recently spoke to someone who was paying more than $1,000 a month on credit card minimums. That’s extremely hard to do! I would challenge you to go back and look at step 3 again. If you weren’t paying those credit card or loan payments, how much more cash would you have access to each month? So please, to avoid being under the mental stress of receiving harassing calls from creditors, and to free up some of your money, create a debt snowball. Start with the debt you owe the least on and pay off as much of it as you can. Once you have that smallest one paid, take the minimum payment from it, along with any other money you have and tackle the next one. In no time at all you will be debt free.
Ways To Cut Back on Expenses
I wanted to include some suggestions on ways you can decrease your spending. Feel free to add some more ideas in the comments below.
- Call and ask for lower interest rates, or better deals. Sometimes just by asking you can decrease your expenses. And remember, the worst they can do is say no.
- Shop around for lower prices through competitors, and then let your current company know why you are switching. They may decide to lower your cost to keep you as their customer.
- Grow a garden at home to save costs on produce at the grocery store.
- Purchase things in bulk, but make sure you price compare first as this isn’t always cheapest (but is more often than not I believe).
- Considering selling a car you owe money for, even if you have to take out a personal loan to cover the difference. Car payments take up a lot of your budget.
- Think about downsizing your home.
- Set your thermostat up or down a few degrees or even turn it off.
- Remember to turn off lights.
- Contact your utility companies and ask them to do an evaluation or inspection and share with you their tips on reducing costs.
How You Can Increase Your Income
- See what your business’ competitors are paying people in your position and determine if it’s worth seeking employment elsewhere.
- Check out other jobs.
- Consider childcare or pet sitting.
- Drive for Uber, or Lyft.
- Deliver groceries or fast food
- Sign up for survey sites such as Swagbucks or Mypoints.
- Sell unwanted items around your home.
- Make cookies or brownies to sell (make sure to check with local laws to make sure this is okay)
- Offer to tutor someone’s children.
- Work for VIPKID (if you have a bachelor’s degree)
Did You Enjoy This Post About The Cycle Between Finances, Anxiety, and Depression?
If so, please check out these other posts in the mini-series about cycles and consider sharing them with your friends.