4 Simple Ways to Relieve Money Stress

It’s a common misconception that making more money will bring more happiness and less stress, but research doesn’t show this to be the case. While more money brings a momentary thrill and a few new things, people generally adjust their lifestyles in ways that don’t increase their overall happiness level or decrease stress.

A better goal would be to be smarter with the money you have: buy fewer things that you don’t need, get out of debt (if you’re in it), and spend your money on things that will truly make you happy and decrease your stress level, including your future. This creates more of a feeling of abundance and personal freedom than having more money but spending it all on more expensive toys. The following are concrete ways you may be able to repurpose your finances in ways that will increase happiness and decrease stress.

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Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares what to do when financial stress is impacting your mental health. Click below to listen now.

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Cut Down on Your Debt

Stressed out woman sitting at a table with a jar holding dollar bills

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 If finances are causing you stress, look for things you can cut out of your budget (like the extra morning lattes, dinners out, and new clothes that you don’t need) and put it toward paying off credit card debt. You’ll eventually have something that you value more than these extras: a chance at financial freedom and peace of mind.

This may be challenging at first because these extras can often be purchased for the sake of convenience, for an emotional pick-me-up, or simply out of habit--and habits can often be difficult to change. The key here is to change your focus, or the meaning you attach to these extras. For example, after identifying a spending habit that you'd like to change (like coffeehouse extras), you could focus more on how you'll enjoy saving the money than on how you'll enjoy the few minutes of pleasure you'd receive from the treat. Or you could change your habit by replacing this treat with another of ​life's pleasures that would cost nothing or at least something that costs less.

You can take baby steps toward progress, and still make considerable progress in the long run, with minimal stress. 

Experiment with what provides you with the greatest level of savings with the least amount of stress; do what works for you. But any changes you make in this direction can reduce stress by helping you to save.


Be Smart With Spending

Stack of credit cards

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From now on, before you buy new things, really think about whether they will really improve your quality of life, or if they’ll just cause you stress (from having less money) and eventually add clutter to your home. Spending less can reduce stress.

This is often easier said than done (particularly if you shop as a response to stress), but there are some things you can do to make it easier. These strategies can help you spend less and enjoy what you have more.


Use Your Money to Do What You Really Want to Do

Mother and child laughing in a park

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After cutting the extras out of your budget, if you don’t have great amounts of debt to pay off, you can think about hiring people to do things for you that you hate doing, that take time away from activities you’d really like to be doing.

For example, you could have someone come and clean your house while you instead take your kids to the park; you could hire an assistant at work to offset your workload so that you can have more time for yourself; hiring someone to help de-clutter your house can free up the time it would take you to do so, and you’ll have more of a haven to come home to.


Trade Old Stuff for New Experiences

Couple walking on a building's patio

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You may consider having a garage sale or selling items on eBay if you have too much ‘stuff’, and spending the money on taking classes, going on a vacation with your family, or doing something else that would create positive memories, enrich your life, and help you combat burnout. Research shows that we enjoy experiences more than possessions and that investing in experiences is a greater use of our funds.

It may be counterintuitive to combat financial stress by spending money on experiences rather than only saving, but spending your money conservatively but wisely in this way can help you to stay motivated to be frugal. It can help you to maintain the motivation to change your spending habits as well. But mostly, it can relieve stress and help you to really enjoy your life.

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