How to stop stressing about money – and start saving

Are your friends out investing extra cash in savings bonds and applying for mortgages while you sit at home eating Mr. Noodles and filling out online surveys for a few cents apiece? It’s time to stop stressing about money and start saving.

Blink twice if money is a primary stressor in your life. For those of you whose eyelashes didn’t flutter – congrats. You’ve managed to overcome what many of us struggle with on a daily basis.

For the rest of you – welcome to the club. According to an article published by the Globe and Mail, one in two Canadians is a bundle of nerves about money. In fact, a recent study revealed that 47 per cent of participants agreed that money worries cause them extreme emotional stress, and 40 per cent said money worries cause them to lose sleep. These are shattering statistics.

But what can we do about it? Combating stress is easier said than done and, unfortunately, those bills aren’t going to pay themselves. Luckily, there are numerous steps you can take to make ends meet, and they’re easier than you might think.

1. Start believing in karma

This is the first point because it’s truly the most important. “Karma” is the Sanskrit word for action, work or deed. In essence, it refers to the principle that the good intent and actions of a person (cause) influence that person’s future (effect). Karma is, as they say, a bitch. But whether you believe in it or not, it’s also an effective way to invite more monetary wealth into your life – and all you have to do is give!

Yes, donating – or “tithing” as it’s commonly referred to in spiritual circles – can be extremely difficult when your bank account balance is in the negatives. But the more you give, the more you receive. “Here is a secret to making more money,” writes Feng Shui consultant Jayme Barrett in her article Secrets to Good Money Karma. “When you decide that you want to make money to help others, it is easier to make it for yourself. If your thoughts focus solely on what you will buy and do with your money, the flow decreases. Money must flow in and out of your life.”

2. Stop spending

This seems obvious. But how often do you put this obvious suggestion into practice? In the age of credit, it’s easy to live outside of your means. When your chequing account dries up, you rely on your Visa card until your next payday, racking up hundreds of dollars of debt that becomes more and more difficult to pay off. This vicious cycle is almost impossible to break, and it only gets worse as time wears on.

The solution? Be frugal. For an entire month – or more, if you can – stop buying anything that isn’t absolutely essential. No clothes, no home décor, no junk food. Yes, it will be difficult, but the money you’ll save will help you dig yourself out of that hole once and for all.

3. Open a savings account

If you don’t have more than one bank account yet, now is the time to get one. The adage “out of sight, out of mind” is the best way to clarify the importance of having a second account. It offers you a place to put money where you’ll forget about it and, eventually, that pocket change will add up. Start by determining how much you can actually afford to put away, keeping in mind that too much will only cause you more stress, while too little isn’t going to help you in the long run.

If you’re worried you won’t have the willpower to put any of your precious money into savings every month, automate it. “Once you have established a budget and have clear short- and long-term goals, one easy way to get in the habit of saving money toward those goals, is to simply automate it,” writes Jamie Pomeroy, Financial Advisor at MerchantsBank. “Set up regular and automatic deposits into your investment and savings accounts, either directly from your paycheck or from your checking account.”

4. Maintain a positive mindset

How often do you think happy thoughts about money? Probably not very often. But a positive mindset is a crucial step in building a wealthier life, and that means changing the way you think about your finances. Rather than worrying about paying bills and panicking about the things you can’t afford, take some time to focus on the abundance in your life. Consider all of your assets, including the food in your fridge and the heated, well-lit space in which you live. In other words, stop stressing about what you don’t have, and appreciate what you do have. Eventually you’ll find that the more you thank the universe, the more it’ll bestow upon you.

5. Be humble

As a society, we think we deserve more than we’re owed. It’s so easy to be swept up by “the American dream” – a big house, two cars, an extensive wardrobe for every season, etc. – and it’s even easier to forget that money doesn’t buy happiness. So be humble. Stop buying everything you want, embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, and remind yourself that you can’t take money with you.

6. Learn to let go

You might not be able to control the size of your paychecks – or the size of your bills – but you can control how you deal with stress. In short, you have a choice. You can choose to worry, or you can choose to let go. In both cases, the outcome will be the same. But the latter is much less taxing on your well-being. “Always remember that stressing out works no miracles,” writes life coach Ashton Aiden in his article How to Use Meditation to Reduce Financial Stress. “Instead, empower yourself! Believe and let your mind take control in a positive manner to bring forth wealth and abundance in your life.”

Without a doubt, letting go is easier said than done. But it isn’t impossible. Spiritual practices like yoga and meditation are a great way to release your money troubles, but walking, jogging and art can help in similar ways. The key is finding what works for you, and sticking with it long enough to truly reap the benefits. As a bonus, all of these activities can be enjoyed for free!

7. Talk to a financial advisor

It’s okay to admit defeat. If you’re struggling with your finances and need some help digging yourself out of debt, call upon a professional to guide you.

If you’re constantly worried about money, you’re not alone. But you’re also not hopeless. These tips will help you build a more solid financial foundation in your life, so you can stop stressing and start saving!

Emily Watson