6 Ways to Manage Financial Stress Challenging Times

By Chonce Maddox
May 12, 2020

COVID-19 has affected our lives. For starters, staying home for months isn’t easy. Plus, you may be dealing with a change in your financial situation. 

In addition, the widespread lack of social interaction means we can’t get together for birthdays, holidays, graduations, and other important milestones. All of this can lead to both emotional and financial stress, especially if you’re worried about mounting debt and managing spending at this time

Yet, there are ways to handle your financial stress. Here are 6 ways you can ease the strain and have a bit more peace of mind.

1. Focus on What You Can Control

According to Healthline, the feeling of stress and anxiety can be triggered by an event that makes you feel frustrated or nervous. When you add in the current coronavirus pandemic, this can lead to quite a bit of financial stress. 

But, here’s an important thing to note: You may be feeling stressed out due to a lack of control over your situation. While there are many things that you can’t control, I challenge you to focus on what you can control. 

For example, you can call your bill companies and find out if they can offer COVID-19 relief programs. You can also pause subscriptions to free up more money in your budget. 

Lastly, you can control your reactions and how you spend your time. So, consider finding creative things to do with your loved ones while home. This can help relieve stress and get your mind off financial worries – at least in the moment.

 

2. Find Out What You’re Eligible for

The government, along with a lot of private businesses and organizations, is  offering some financial relief at this time. 

So, find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits by applying online or researching your state’s website. You may also be eligible for a stimulus check if you filed 2018 or 2019 taxes and met income requirements as follows:

  • $75,000 for a single taxpayer
  • $112,000 for head of household
  • $150,000 for couples filing jointly

If you earned slightly more than these amounts, you may qualify for a reduced stimulus payment. USA.gov provides a list of resources made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

In addition, several auto insurance companies are offering rebates on premiums since people are driving less. Still other companies will allow you to defer bills for the time being.

Also, don’t forget that some community resources are completely free and have little to no eligibility requirements. Some churches, for instance, have benevolence funds which help community members by giving away food.

 

3. Prioritize Payments

If money is tight and you can’t afford to pay for everything, start prioritizing payments to make sure you pay for the most essential expenses first. For example, it’s important to prioritize paying for housing, food and insurance. 

If you have federal student loans, you can defer them and you won’t have to pay any interest until fall 2020. Some private student loan lenders are also offering forbearance options, but you’ll have to check with your lender.

To help stay organized, make a list of your monthly bills and payments in order of importance. This way you’ll know what to pay first. Then write down any bill assistance programs you qualify for, as well as payments you can defer. Move those lower on your priority list so that you can pay your essential bills first.

 

4. See How You Can Earn More Money

If you’re getting a little stir crazy sitting around worrying about your finances, you’re not alone. 

One thing you can do is explore your options to make extra money at this time. 

There are dozens of companies hiring right now, including Amazon, UnitedHealth Group, and Liveops. You can also consider delivering take-out food with companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Or, you can sign up to deliver groceries for Instacart or Shipt.

There are also lots of ways you can start a completely home-based side hustle. While you may need to take some online courses to learn some new skills, with a little creativity and ingenuity, you can start earning money as a virtual assistant, English tutor, Pretzel Kids yoga teacher, or fitness trainer. 

 

5. Save Some Money if You Can

Maybe you wanted to save money in the past, but you kept putting it off. 

Well, now is the perfect time to develop a healthy savings habit if you still have income coming in. This can also help you gain control of your finances. 

Even transferring $25 to your savings account when you get paid can help you feel more financially secure. So, if you are getting a paycheck, consider automating a percentage of your pay to your savings account

 

6. Take Care of Yourself

Practicing self-care can be a great way to manage financial stress during hard times. 

For starters, try to get some exercise each day, even if it’s just moving around for 20 minutes or taking a brisk walk. 

In addition, eating foods that are good for you can help you feel more energized. 

So, choose healthy food options that are affordable, such as fresh produce, lean protein, and foods packed with fiber like brown rice and other whole grains. 

Sleep is also important to your well-being. To help you get more shut-eye, try developing an evening routine that helps you wind down for the day. For example, you can take a hot bath to relax or listen to soothing music. You can also journal to reflect on your day.

Develop a Plan

The best way to manage financial stress during hard times is to assess your situation and develop a plan. So, use these 6 suggestions to help you get a handle on your finances. Then, put a financial plan into place. 

One more thing: Take some deep breaths. You’ve got this! 

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Choncé is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, personal finance freelance writer, and blogger who focuses on helping other manage their money better in order to live a life with more possibilities and fewer limitations. Her work has been featured on Business Insider, LendingTree, Credit Sesame, Barclaycard.

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