During the holidays, financial stress skyrockets. In the average year, around 64% of Americans report feeling stressed about money, jumping to 88% during the holiday season. As we know it, 2020 has been anything but average. Let’s take a minute to examine a few ways to reduce financial stress and stress management techniques.

Reach for your fuzzy blanket, slide into those slippers, and sip your eggnog, here we go.

First, let’s take a look at reducing financial stress:

Financial Goals and Budgeting:

Like we talked about last week in ‘A Christmas Budget’, setting a plan (and following it) is number one in reducing financial stress. Making a plan, especially putting pen to paper, solidifies the methods in your head, and helps to work out the kinks that cause unnecessary stress. Do a quick google like “personal budget templates” or creating your own is an excellent place to start. These allow you to work down the list and see what is what, allowing you to analyze your biggest spending categories. Communicate with your partner and set financial goals for each individual and as a pair. Communicating with your partner on financials might seem scary, but I promise, talking it out right now is better than letting the stress accumulate.

Debt Prioritizing:

For many, debt is this ever-looming beast that seems to never dissipate. List them from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate and their monthly minimum payments. The one at the top is going to be your main focus. Add up the minimum monthly payments of all debt. Refer to the budget, and see what you can allow being paid towards these. If the sum of total payments is less than the budgeted amount, take that remainder and apply to the first on the list (the one with the highest interest rate). Not only will this allow you to reduce the most expensive debt, but it gives you a focus and a goal while tackling the beast.

After setting financial goals and debt prioritization, look at what options might benefit and aid you. At FFCU we offer a wide variety of financing and loans, like Home Equity Loans, Line of Credits, and refinancing options, to help you reach those goals. Our excellent loan staff is available 9-5 during the week!

Planning for Surprises:

In life, unexpected things happen. From sudden car problems to your daughter’s twisted ankle from dance class, things happen. Instead of being caught off guard with unexpected expenses, try planning for them. Keep a second savings account. Here, a good rule of thumb is to keep 3-6 months of your regular expenses set aside. This way, in case of emergency, you have a backup or a little safety cushion.

Next, stress management:

  • Meditation and Yoga
  • Essential Oils: Lavender, Bergamot, Vetiver are proven stress reliefs
  • Getting in your Laughs: “Laughter helps bring balance to a stressful situation” – Kala Stevenson
  • Sleep
  • Journaling: Much like with keeping a pen and paper budget, getting things down on paper is almost therapeutic. When it comes to journaling for stress, getting everything out does help.
  • Music and Creativity: Painting, drawing, baking, building, dancing, the options are endless.
  • Counseling: Remember, you can always reach out for help. Right now, in-office appointments might not be available, but there are a wide variety of online sessions available. Even if you are not comfortable physically in an office, you can always talk to a counselor via text, skype, or phone.

When implementing the budget, finance goals, and even journaling, I do want you to use pen and paper vs. typing on a computer. Physical writing has been linked to higher remembrance and comprehension!

 Communicate with your partner, set goals, and make sure to take time for yourself.

-Riley Hicks