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Why you stress over money -- and how to stop

Worrying about finances isn't unusual, but you don't want that concern to reach unhealthy proportions. You can learn to put money in its place and free your mind for other things.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 12, 2013 10:26AM

This post comes from Angela Brandt at partner site Money Talks News.

MTN logoAll of us suffer from a bit of finance-induced stress. Even Snoop Dogg reportedly has his mind on his money and his money on his mind.

Being cognizant of your finances is vital. But worrying about your cash flow won’t do anything to increase it.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has five tips to help ease financial stress. Watch the video and then read on for more detail.

The top three causes of stress are financially driven, according to the American Psychological Association’s most recent poll. They are:

  • Money -- 69% worry about this.
  • Work -- 65%.
  • The economy -- 61%.

Other top instigators include relationships, family responsibilities and health.

Stress can cause many physical symptoms such as headaches and back pain. Those ailments can lead to loss of work hours and more money spent on doctoring. Here are Stacy’s tips to help end the stress cycle.

1. Know what you have and what you owe

Make note of your income and assets. Then make a list of all of your debts. Are you keeping yourself in the dark about the amount of debt you have? It’s commonly said that the first step is admitting you have a problem. You can’t come up with a plan to retire those debts if you don’t know the amounts and the interest rates.

Real information -- even if your situation is somewhat precarious -- should help relieve some of the anxiety of not knowing where you stand.

2. Track what you earn and spend
About 19% of Americans polled said they spend more than their income, a recent survey by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation found. That’s got to be stressful. Those who spend equal to their income totaled 36%.

Are you in one of those groups or one of the 41% who spend less than their take-home pay? You’ll have a much better idea if you keep tabs on both your income and expenses. We suggest a free money-managing tool such as PowerWallet.

Woman with paperwork (© Getty Images)3. Set attainable, positive goals
Everyone needs something to work toward, to look forward to -- whether it’s paying off all credit card debt in two years or retiring by age 50.

But how do you know your goals will keep you engaged long enough to reach them? Stacy suggests selecting goals that reflect your core values — what’s really important to you. He wrote:

Before you set Goal One, brainstorm. About what you want from life. About who you are. About what really makes you happy. This is the first step to getting it. And just as important, it’s going to expose how you’re now wasting time, money, and energy on stuff you really don’t care about.

Once you know what you want from life and set some goals, it’s a lot easier to channel your precious income in those directions rather than blowing it on things that aren’t as important.

Stay positive too. Forbes says the power of positive thinking will extend into your financial future. Focus on what is working, not failing, and then improve from there. “Like athletes who get their head in the game -- cultivating a challenge mindset and a willingness to engage with your stressors helps with job performance, personal financial worries and fears about future success,” the magazine adds.

That was also a top strategy used by those polled by the APA. The majority -- 62% -- said focusing on the positive was their best tactic to battle stress.

4. Get an app for that
The less you spend managing your money, the less stressful your life will be. So use the tools you have available: direct deposit, automatic and online bill pay, and expense tracking tools like PowerWallet.

It’s stressful to see papers piled everywhere. When your bills come in, pay them. When you need to keep something, scan it. If you don’t, shred it and forget it.

And use simple, quick online searches to make sure you’re getting the best mortgage rate, credit card deal, insurance premiums, and rates on your savings accounts.

5. Answer your questions
If you don’t know the answer, do some research. Money Talks News, for one, is filled with explanations of the best saving and spending tactics, along with more in-depth discussions on topics like retirement and investing.

Overall, the APA offers this advice :

Take stock of your particular financial situation and what causes you stress. Write down specific ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your finances more efficiently. Then commit to a specific plan and review it regularly. Although this can be anxiety-provoking in the short term, putting things down on paper and committing to a plan can reduce stress. If you are having trouble paying bills or staying on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank, utilities or credit card company.

How are you dealing with money worries and stress in your life? Share your experiences or advice.

More from Money Talks News:

Jul 12, 2013 12:53PM
While I am very far from rich and I know what I owe as well as being careful with my money it just seems like I can never get ahead financially.  Every time I turn around someone has their hand out or something has gone up in price.  I have basic cell phone, no landline, basic satellite tv no internet at home car is paid for.  I agree someone who has money wrote this article and has no idea how the rest of us are struggling.
Jul 12, 2013 11:29AM
I'd laugh at money if I could only figure out a way to survive without transportation, food, shelter, clothing and medecine...
Jul 12, 2013 12:55PM

Another "Money doesn't buy happiness" article... BS! It may not buy happiness but it sure as hell can make your life a lot easier and less stressful which would make most people a lot more "happy" Why can't you just keep it real MSN!?

Jul 12, 2013 2:44PM
I did the right thing. I paid off my home and cars. At 59 years old I suffered a stroke so I can't work. My speech is slurred and my memory is running about 50% of what it should be. I don't collect SSDI for pride reasons. I'm living off my retirement money. With 15k in the bank and a small pension of $866 a month I am trying to make it to 62 without going broke. My advice to people is to work hard and save for retirement but don't overdue it. Enjoy life and have fun because you never know when a tragedy or death will come.
Jul 12, 2013 1:54PM
Every time I see this guy in a video I prepare myself for inaccurate unhelpful information. This is "DUH" information. I already budget myself, I already know what I make and how much I have to spend, I already put it in excel just like he showed in the video. And guess what, I still stress about money. People don't stress about money because they don't know if they have enough, they stress because they KNOW that they don't have enough. I can look at exactly what I will make and what I will spend way ahead of time and looking at it makes me realize how much money I don't have, which in turn causes stress based on the fact that If something unexpected comes up then I don't know how to cover it. Thats the stressful part. Then he would say "well that's why you should create a savings, or emergency money". Except after budgeting and looking at expenses you realize that wait I don't even have enough to set aside. THAT's the stress of money.

Jul 12, 2013 1:00PM
Quit borrowing money, prepare for any issues that may arise and don't try to impress people you don't even like.  Perfect no stress plan.
Jul 12, 2013 2:25PM

You buy things that you dont need...

With money you do not have...

To impress people that you do not like...


Jul 12, 2013 2:07PM
Get an app??  Seriously?  Having an overloaded cell phone bill isn't a smart way to save.  This author is out of touch. 
Jul 12, 2013 12:59PM
This works fine except for those who have recently begun living on their own, then lost their job and have no credit to sustain them. Even with no debt, they still need to have funds to buy food and shelter--not to mention those in rural areas who have to have some way of transportation and fuel to power it! Be aware of others' needs and see what you can do to help...........
Jul 12, 2013 4:03PM
I'll stop stressing about money when the government gets their hand out of my wallet & stops using my money to pay freeloaders.
Jul 12, 2013 1:38PM
real great advice...too bad our politicians don't follow it.   they are supposed to be "leaders", so is it a shock that soooo many americans are in debt and have no clue how to manage money???
Jul 12, 2013 2:38PM
I find it ironic that MSN has a feature on how to stop stressing over money - and than have a Capital One ad on their home page, "Zero to Card in 60 Seconds!" That's the way people start stressing ablout money! MSN - who you crappin?
Jul 12, 2013 3:33PM

I watch the money..I pay cash for things and rarely use credit cards..I think that

helps..I also do not it a Need or a Want???

Jul 12, 2013 1:11PM
Spend less than you make and save the rest ............ when money is your bltch, it can only be an after thought.
Jul 12, 2013 3:18PM
Money. My grandfather once told me 'money is the most vulgar thing in the world'. But he also said it was very necessary. He died in 1987 at the age of 87. Sometimes wish I had been born a little earlier. But this article did not help me to stop stressing about money. I am 63 and retirement seems ever elusive....
Jul 12, 2013 2:13PM
Great article, my 10yr old got a lot out of it. Spare me MSN!!
Jul 12, 2013 12:52PM
Jul 12, 2013 2:19PM
I find it hilarious that every article on MSN, under the "Worst" column, there is some post about Democrats vs. Republicans or about POTUS. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Jul 12, 2013 3:06PM
How much does writing for MSN Money pay?
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