Stress is terrible for us. As well as the usual sleepless nights and general anxiety, it can cause panic attacks and even heart disease. And money can be a major stressor. It is cited as a major factor in the breakdown of a lot of marriages and is a huge cause of arguments between couples and families.
This need not be the case. It can be hard to be positive about your finances if you’re on a low income, but as long as you’re following the magic (and simple) formula of money in>money out you’ll be fine.
Unfortunately, simple is not the same as easy. So, I’ve done a little cheat sheet. Here are some basic steps to implement that will enable you to stop being stressed out about money. None of them are unachievable; none of them are easy, but the peace of mind they can give you is priceless.
1 – Budget
Yep, you’re gonna need one of these. It doesn’t have to be fancy (although there are some great ideas here). In the basic sense write your income, then subtract any fixed expenses you need. Then minus any expenses you’d like. If you get a negative figure, you need to make some changes. Start with this post, look for money-saving ideas on Pinterest, yada yada yada. Work out how much you can spend on food, petrol, leisure. This is your budget.
2 – Stick to budget
It’s no good budgeting £50 a week for food if you’re going to be spending £60. Look for blog posts on how to save money on food. If you need to budget more for food, decrease your budget for leisure. If you struggle, try using a cash-only budgeting system. Starting a spending freeze is a great idea too – choose a length of time (a week is a good one to start with) and don’t spend any money unless strictly necessary. Eat from the pantry, watch TV, drink water. It’s only a week – you’ll survive
Starting a spending freeze is a great idea too – choose a length of time (a week is a good one to start with) and don’t spend any money unless strictly necessary. Eat from the pantry, watch TV, drink water. It’s only a week – you’ll survive and you’ll eat all the elderly brown rice that lurks at the back of every pantry.
3 – Start your side hustle
If you’re not happy about your job and your income, you need a side hustle. I’m currently in the process of trying to find mine – it can be a long process finding something that you’re good at, that you enjoy and that can net you some cash. And it can take a while to become fruitful so START NOW.
4 – Start saving
Here’s a quick guide to get you started. The key here is not to think too big, especially if you’re not sure if you can spare any cash to pop away for a rainy day. Start with loose change, then maybe a cheeky once-monthly automatic bank transfer of whatever you can afford, be it a fiver or £1000.
5 – Identify your weakness(es)
Do you take out more money than you should when you go clubbing? Are you uncontrollable around audio books? Do you need to be logged out from Amazon? A good way to work out where your hard earned cash is going is to keep a spending diary for a week or two. Make sure you’re spending your money wisely, and on things that will, to quote Marie Kondo, ignite a spark of joy in you.
6 – Make connections
Pinterest is a great place to find bloggers that will help you sort out your financial situation, save money and ultimately stop stressing out about money. My boards are dedicated almost exclusively (aside from a few blogging boards) to saving money in all areas of life – beauty, food, around the home – as well as tips for getting out of debt and how to travel for less. Follow me here! Also check out twitter chats and Facebook groups. I’m not so hot on those (Pinterest is life), so if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment section.
7 – Put everything in perspective
You. Will. Be. Fine. It’s just money. One thing is guaranteed – someone else in the world would feel lucky to be in position you’re in now. As long you have your health and a roof over your head, you’ll manage. This may not seem helpful when you’re not sure where your next paycheck will come from, but this will pass. And it’ll make you stronger.
In the immortal words of Yazz, the only way is up.
I hope I’ve given you some tools that will help you on your way to stressing less about money. The most important thing is to let go of the mindset that people with a low income can’t achieve financial security. Sure, you might have to forgo a few luxuries you may have once viewed as necessities (Sky, annual holidays/vacations, salon-dyed hair), but it won’t be forever. Get started today; you’ll thank me one day 😀