Having high debt balances can be worrisome. As you constantly bug your mind with anxious thoughts on how to become debt-free, your health is at stake. So what do you do? The answer is simple: learn how to deal with debt stress.
You must understand that you can’t wake up one morning and instantly clear all your debt balances. It will take several months or years. However, there are techniques to set your mind at ease and vanquish stress while you strive for financial freedom.
At the time I graduated from college, I had piled up a huge amount of student debt. I wasn’t earning enough money monthly, so making my minimum debt payment was very difficult. This led to anxiety and mental stress. But thankfully, I was lucky to read a personal finance book that revealed some important steps to pay down debt fast and manage stress. With time, I became debt-free and went back to being peaceful with myself.
Now, it’s time I walked you through the same steps that got me the results I wanted. As you read on, you will learn some of the best actionable tips to deal with debt stress even if you haven’t finished paying down your balances.
By finding a clear and reliable strategy to manage your debt problem, you’ll suppress the stress and discomfort that currently disturb your mind.
What Is Debt Stress?
Debt stress is the consuming thought that occupies your mind when you’re in a financial crisis. This can make you mentally unstable and unable to make rational decisions in other aspects of your life. It’s almost like an illness you have to be cured of in order not to lose yourself.
Debt stress usually comes as a feeling of hopelessness. This is because you don’t see the possibility of your financial situation getting better. Anxiety and worry set in immediately. However, relieving debt stress is possible, and that’s what we intend to achieve here in this post.
Signs You Are Struggling With Debt Stress
Before we delve into ways to overcome debt stress, it’s ideal to first determine if you are actually stressed out by your debt situation. Let’s examine some of the common signs of debt stress:
Have you ever been in a situation where you are about to miss a debt payment? The thought of receiving a late payment notice will make you increasingly anxious. You can’t escape the rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, shakes, headaches, and sleepless nights. This is anxiety and it has several ways of limiting your life and the things you do.
For example, being anxious about your debt problem is one reason you might not want to walk down the marriage aisle. You are too scared to involve someone else in your financial crisis even though that may be one of the ways to resolve the situation.
If you are tired of being afflicted by this anxiety and unwanted pressure, it’s time you learn how to deal with debt stress.
When I was financially unstable years ago, I couldn’t tame my anger issues. This was obviously born out of frustration, knowing I was deep in debt. Instead of figuring out a way to solve my problem, I always get mad.
I get angry at the creditor for always sending me bills. I get angry at my employer because I believe my paycheck is too small. I get angry at family members for not being supportive. However, getting angry is one of the stupidest things to do in a situation like this.
Anger would only ruin relationships and won’t solve a thing. Your mind will also be too distorted to focus on the things that matter.
So if you are currently angry at the moment, it’s totally understandable. You can get angry and let out the frustration. But it’s certainly not a good place to remain in. You have to move past it by finding ways to deal with debt stress.
People who don’t know how to deal with debt stress are likely to get depressed for a long time. Depression sets in when you believe there’s nothing that can be done to remedy your debt situation.
The terrible thing about being depressed is that it gets worse. It’s almost like drowning in a bottomless ocean. You’ll be compelled to get into more debt because your spending would become uncontrollable. This is because depression encourages impulse buying.
Many depressed people try to relieve their depression by treating themselves to a shopping spree or some other mental getaway that often requires spending a lot of money.
If you are in this situation, you need help immediately. You need to become debt-free. As soon as you’re able to pay off debt completely, there won’t be any reason to be depressed about your finances. You get freedom. You find relief. You feel happy.
Inability To Save
This is one sign that made me realize I was trapped in debt. I couldn’t reach my savings goals. Sometimes I couldn’t save even $5 a month. A huge part of my income was directed to debt payment. I only managed to pay my bills and feed. My debt situation was a huge mountain that stood in front of me, impeding my financial freedom.
So if you are finding it extremely difficult to save, then you have to pay down your debt as soon as possible. That’s the only way you can free up cash to deposit into your savings account.
If you don’t become debt-free early enough, you may retire very late or won’t retire at all since you haven’t been saving in a retirement fund.
Inability To Reach Your Money Goals
Just as your debt problem prevents you from saving money, it also stops you from achieving your financial goals.
Do you want to get a new car? Do you want to renovate your home? Do you want to send your kids to college? These are goals you won’t be able to accomplish if huge debt balances are standing in the way. To evade this situation, you must devise a feasible method to pay down your debt faster.
Besides, you have a credit history to protect. Pilling too much debt you can’t pay destroys your credit score and makes it almost impossible to seek financial backing in the future. But don’t let this crank up your anxiety even more. You are about to learn how to deal with debt stress and pay down your balances.
8 Tips For Dealing With Debt Stress
There are various ways to overcome the stress that comes with owing huge debt balances. Below are 8 strategic approaches you can work with right now if you want to know how to deal with debt anxiety:
1. Have A Full Grasp Of Your Debt Situation
How well do you understand your debt situation? It’s highly important to know how much you owe, how you ended up with such an amount in debt, and how long it would take to pay off the balances. If you aren’t thinking in this direction, there would be no foundation upon which you are going to build your debt repayment plan.
Start by writing down all your debts: credit card, student loan, mortgage, and anything else you owe. Next to each balance written on your list, include the minimum payment, interest rate, and payment due date.
Once you have a full grasp of your debt situation, you can determine how much work and effort you need to put in to become debt-free within a set period of time.
2. Set Priorities
Now that you have figured out how much you owe, it’s time to get to work by deciding which debt balance is going to be paid off first. This is the only logical way forward. You can’t pay all your balances at the same time, especially if your debts are huge. You must narrow your focus and strength toward paying down a particular debt, after which you move to the next one.
For example, if you are using the debt avalanche method as your repayment strategy, you have to focus on the debt balance with the highest interest rate. If your credit card has the highest interest rate, prioritize it. Try to pay more than the minimum by adding extra cash.
By the time you finish paying down this balance on time, you will be encouraged to forge ahead with other balances. This is how to deal with debt stress.
3. Build A Budget
When struggling with your finances, budgeting can seem very pointless. You’ll ask, “How does building a budget help me deal with debt stress?” Truth be told, budgeting may not seem to directly impact your debt repayment, but it’s very essential.
Now, look at it this way. If you are unable to manage your cash flow, track expenses, and curb spending, do you think it will be possible to pay off debt? Of course not.
Building a monthly budget is the best way to plan for your income and have a clear view of your expenditure. This will help you evade the pressure or anxiety that comes from being confused about how to manage your finances. Then paying down debt becomes more realistic.
4. Supplement Your Income
This is one of the most important tips for dealing with debt stress. Increasing your income will improve your cash flow, making it easier to direct more money toward your debt balances unfailingly. Besides, as your income increases, you have the opportunity to reach other essential goals such as building an emergency fund and contributing to your retirement account.
There are various ways to add an extra income to your existing salary. Small side hustles like pet sitting or driving for a ridesharing service can be a simple yet effective solution.
On the other hand, if you have relevant skills in the digital space like graphic design or content writing, you can start a freelance career.
As a freelancer, consider signing up on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork where you can work for clients remotely and get paid.
5. Acknowledge Your Progress
Paying down debts can be a difficult journey. You have to be quite disciplined and willing to spend only on your essential bills. In times like this, it’s important to appreciate your efforts by acknowledging the progress you’ve made over time.
For example, if you pay down a debt balance completely, that’s an achievement. Recognize it and give yourself a little reward as a form of encouragement to keep going. Besides, tracking your progress shows you know exactly what you are doing and that you’re open to improvements.
6. Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation is another strategy for how to manage debt stress. This is when you take a new loan to pay off other balances. It’s almost like compressing all your debts into one balance. Then you no longer have to be worried about keeping up with multiple debt payments every month.
Also, debt consolidation helps you save money on interest. However, this is not ideal for everyone. It should be one of the last resorts if you are struggling to make minimum payments across all your debt balances.
7. Have A Conversation With Your Lenders
If your debt balances seem like too much of a problem to solve, your lenders may be willing to offer some support by lessening your monthly obligation.
Contact your credit card company or loan issuer as soon as you realize the situation could be beyond your control. Ask about credit card hardship programs to lower your interest and reduce how much you pay every month. This will help you avoid missing payments and stay afloat until you finally become debt-free.
8. Prioritize Self-Care
If you must know how to deal with debt stress, one of the things you need to do is take good care of yourself. Try not to overthink. Have enough sleep and eat well.
If you need to talk to someone about your debt situation, don’t hesitate. Reach out to friends and family members to talk about your finances. They can offer emotional support and advise you on how to not stress about debt.
Quick Summary: How To Deal With Debt Stress
Although you may be in a financial crisis, it’s important to be grateful for other things in your life and be hopeful. Find other sources of joy that can help you cope with learning how to deal with debt stress. You don’t have to tie your peace of mind to an outstanding debt.
Don’t forget to also appreciate the best you do. If you make on-time payments throughout the year, treat yourself to something nice for a job well done. It’s one way to encourage yourself to continue improving your finances.
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