Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser disclosure

How to beat financial stress by controlling your finances

Follow a strong financial plan to take control of fruitless worries.

While money may not guarantee happiness, it’s often true that financial stress can lead to feelings of unhappiness. We understand how overwhelming this can be, and we want to offer our support. It’s important to take steps to manage your financial health and reduce anxiety, but we also recognize that shifting your mindset to one of gratitude and contentment is equally crucial. We’re here to help you achieve both of these goals and improve your overall well-being.

The best way to get ahead of money stress is by adjusting your mindset and planning ahead. Our best tips for dealing with money stress include:

1. Create a budget

Think of a budget as liberating instead of restrictive. When followed, a good budget will ensure you’re able to attain necessities with room to spare.

A common rule of thumb is the 50/30/20 plan. The breakdown includes:

  • 50% of your income after tax goes towards needs
  • 30% of your income after tax goes towards wants
  • 20% of your income after tax goes towards savings

This rule was developed by Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi in their book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime MoneyPlan.

2. Think big picture

Money troubles rarely dissolve overnight or go away with a quick fix. Once you’re on a realistic budget, trust the process and exercise patience. Try to realize that stress serves no constructive purpose if you’re taking the right steps. Finances are stabilized with daily discipline, not fruitless worrying.

3. Focus on the progress you’ve made

Some folks tend to magnify the bad and minimize the good. For example, let’s say you want to save $500 a month for two years so that you can put a down payment on a house. After four months, you find yourself focusing on the $10,000 to go rather than the $2,000 you’ve already managed to save.

Instead of focusing on scarcity, think about the amount you have saved or the progress you made.

4. Combat worries with outside advice

External help from a financial counselor or adviser can help pinpoint bad financial habits in order to quell money stress. An expert will help you develop and stick to a budget, and can provide guidance on long-term saving strategies. An outside eye can lend a new perspective and may help you feel less isolated along the way.

5. Stop putting pressure on yourself

Doing something is always better than nothing. The fact that you’re researching how to improve is the first step towards taking control of your financial situation. Be patient with yourself without expecting perfection. Practice gratitude and contentment. There’s always tomorrow.

6. Establish an emergency fund

A safety net of extra funds can lend peace of mind that an unexpected financial obligation won’t destroy your financial health. Consider starting a rainy day fund and setting a goal to save up six months of replacement income. That way, even losing your job won’t cripple your ability to pay bills. Earn interest by opening a high APY savings account.

7. Prioritize your goals

Making a list of your financial goals can help create tactile milestones. Decide which goals are most important to you. Then, allocate a set amount of money toward that goal each month. Sorting out your priorities will help shape the way you spend your money.

If your long-term goal is to buy a house, organize your budget to help ease the stress of potential future mortgage or loan repayments.

Top financial stress triggers

Money is the number one source of stress for Americans nationwide, according to a 2018 study conducted by Northwestern Mutual. And for good reason. Everyday, we’re exposed to thousands of demands for our cash.

Common sources of money stress include:

  • Paying off debt. Mounting interest rates make debt an intimidating rival, especially if late payments or big balances negatively affect your credit score.
  • Planning for retirement. 40% of Americans feel anxious about living longer than their retirement fund lasts, according to Northwestern Mutual’s findings.
  • Funding an emergency. Unexpected illness, car troubles, and other unfortunate events can quickly deplete rainy day funds.
  • Enrolling in higher education. College is notoriously expensive, but non-negotiable for many career paths.
  • Lack of stable income. Working as a freelancer, self-employed person, or contractor can lead to stress from week to week.
  • Making ends meet. For many Americans, simply paying bills each month is enough to cause anxiety.

How financial stress affects your health

Like many emotionally taxing circumstances, money stress can negatively affect your health and well-being. Short-term stress, if not properly addressed, can lead to:

  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Interpersonal conflict

Long-term side effects of rampant money stress can include mental illness like depression, as well as physical symptoms like high blood pressure, heart disease, skin problems and more.

The good news is that you’re not alone. Help for financial distress exists: And there are steps you can take today to shift things back on track.

Main reasons why people find money stressful:

Credit card debt is by far the number one financial stressor for American adults, with 35.4% saying they sweat their credit card statements, according to a survey conducted by Finder. Next up are mortgages, with a little over a fifth (22.4%) of Americans worrying about their home’s finances. Rounding out the top three financial stressors are student loans, with 13.5% worrying about their college debts.

At the other end of the spectrum are personal loans, with less than one-in-ten (7.9%) American adults having concerns about the money they’ve borrowed.

What type of debt causes the most stress?
SelectionsPercentage of respondents with debt that are stressed about each type
Credit card debt35.4%
Student loans13.5%
Medical debt12.3%
Auto loans8.5%
Personal loans7.9%

Bottom line

Most stresses in life come from uncertainties and a fear of the unknown. If you’re hoping for personalized financial advice, consider partnering with a financial planner.

Frequently asked questions

Richard Laycock headshot

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Richard Laycock, Insights editor and senior content marketing manager


/in/richardlaycock/ /aleksvee/

More guides on Finder

Ask a Question provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site