Money can make life a whole lot easier, but it can also be one of the biggest stressors for Americans. Did you know that one in four people suffer from PTSD-like symptoms brought on by financial stress? Yup, money is a leading cause of health problems, relationship issues, and divorce.
Just like older generations, millennials are also feeling stressed out by money matters. In fact, at least 75 percent of Millennials stated that money, above all, was their biggest cause of stress, according to an American Psychological Association study. To compound the problem, millennials have another major stressor: technology. A whopping 48 percent of millennials are concerned that social media takes a toll on their physical and mental health, while 45 percent say technology makes them feel disconnected from family and loved ones.
What can you do? For starters, it’s important to understand how technology exacerbates money stress. After that, you can take measures to reduce this stress.
Look for ways technology heightens money stress
In order to alleviate money anxiety, it’s key to recognize the causes. Here are some reasons why you may be experiencing financial stress:
- Envy and overspending. Before everyone kept up with the Kardashians, Americans had a difficult time keeping up with the Joneses — a colloquial term referring to the idea of keeping up appearances to give the illusion of being wealthy. As an example, consider something known as Facebook envy. It’s hard to avoid logging in to the social networking site without making comparisons to your friends’ seemingly idyllic lives, the vacations they’re taking, or that new car or house they bought. This can instill a “grass is greener” syndrome, causing you to spend more money and go over budget to match someone else’s lifestyle. Instead of getting stressed or going broke, understand that not everyone on Facebook is as happy as they appear to be.
- Online impulse shopping. Before the Internet happened, it was easy to drive to the mall and max out your credit card. But since the dawn of online shopping, the ease of browsing on your computer or phone means it’s also easier to spend money. The more attractive the online store, the more you’re tempted to buy something on impulse and blow through your budget. Up to 87 percent of impulse buys, in fact, are made from browsing website categories. Spur-of-the-moment purchases aren’t the only problem. A fast-growing number of millennial shoppers plan ahead to buy things by researching products online. All these factors can lead to a psychological disconnect with the value of real money, precipitating debt and the stress that goes with it.
- Paying too much. Online shopping still has its benefits, like the ability to find more options, scour sites for discounts and sign up for free shipping. On the flipside, consumers are willing to shell out more money just to get stuff for free. Last year, Amazon raised its free shipping minimum from $35 to $49. Here’s another way you might pay more than you bargained for: Those rideshare services may not be as inexpensive as they seem. While using a rideshare provider may save you time and gas money, those rides add up. On average, Uber and Lyft passengers pay between $12 and $13 per ride, and more than $14 in larger cities like New York or San Francisco.
Take a different perspective to reduce money and tech stress
If money issues and tech overload are stressing you out, the simplest way to tackle the problem is to better understand how technology can help you handle your finances. This, in turn, can help reduce your stress about money. Try some of these ideas to stay tech savvy and money smart:
- Download an all-around app to start organizing and managing your finances. Some popular options include Mint and You Need a Budget. Both apps allow you to sync up your bank accounts, credit cards, and other expenses into one comprehensive place. Once you have all your financials together, these mobile wallet apps will then help you build a budget and tailor it according to your needs and preferences.
- Automate your banking with online banking. Bank accounts like Chime, for example, help you save automatically by rounding up each purchase you make and then transferring the rounded up amount into your savings account. Chime also offers a 10 percent bonus on your weekly round-up amounts.
- The Acorns app takes savings automation to another level altogether. When you link a credit or debit card to the app, it rounds up the purchases you make to the nearest dollar and then allocates the change into an investment portfolio.
- Cut the cord. Sometimes the best way to manage your money is to spend less of it and technology can help you do this. For example, you can try canceling your cable subscription and instead opt for streaming TV and movies via Hulu, Amazon Prime or a Roku box. Will they save you money? Last year, the average monthly cable bill was over $103. Yet, by opting for one of the services above, this will slash your monthly costs down to nearly a tenth of that cost — Hulu and Amazon Prime monthly subscriptions are $7.99 and $10.99 per month, respectively. Another possibility? Use Netflix or Crackle. Although its selection isn’t as comprehensive as Netflix, Crackle is one of the few free streaming TV/movie services available.
- Reduce your cell phone bill. You probably can’t live without your phone but you can manage to save money on your cell phone bill by using apps like TextFree or Tango. Both of these enable free texting and video calling. This, in turn, reduces the amount of data used on your cell phone plan. And, you guessed it, this means a lower phone bill for you.