1. Beat your debt into shape

Girl open book on the street
Lewis Tse Pui Lung / Shutterstock

While you may not be able to eliminate your student debt or credit card debt anytime soon, you can relieve a lot of pressure by getting them in the most manageable shape possible.

If you have a federal student loan, the government offers income-driven repayment plans that allow borrowers to make more affordable payments, based on what they earn. After you make 20 or 25 years of regular payments under an income-driven plan, your remaining debt will be forgiven.

Another simple money-saving step is to enroll in autopay, because signing up for automatic deposits will qualify you for a 0.25% interest rate reduction when payments resume.

On the other hand, if you have a private loan, your best bet could be refinancing with one of today’s record-low interest rates. Assuming you have a decent credit score, refinancing could help you pay off your loan more quickly and save you a huge amount in interest.

The same strategy can work for any high-interest debt you’re carrying, like the kind on credit cards. Refinancing to a lower rate could see you free yourself years sooner.

2. Create an actual budget

Business Christmas of red balls, pen, calculator, tinsel
Stanislav Vinogradov / Shutterstock

About two-thirds of millennials and Gen Zers are concerned about overspending during the holiday season, but only 38% are actually budgeting.

Consider talking to your loved ones about swapping homemade gifts, like baked goods or crafts, or agree to skip the gifts and simply share the pleasure of each other’s company. You’ll probably find some of your friends and relatives are tight on money, as well.

If you are buying gifts, remember you can download a free browser add-on that will automatically hunt for lower prices and coupons when you shop online.

Even after 2021 comes to a close, a monthly budget can be a great money- and stress-management tool. Dig out a notepad and list all of your usual expenses, like groceries, credit card bills, mortgage or rent payments and retirement savings. That way you know exactly how much you can spend on the fun stuff each month, worry-free.

3. Prepare for disaster

car crash accident on street, damaged automobiles after collision in city
Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock

If your anxiety comes from imagining the worst-case scenario, like a job loss or running out of money in retirement, then it’s time to prepare for it.

About 44% of the respondents in the study say they’re trying hard to save more. However, saving is only part of the picture; you’ll also want to maximize the money you’re saving.

Tuck away some savings each month into a high-yield savings account so it has a chance to grow. Normal checking and savings accounts offer next to nothing in interest.

Experts suggest keeping enough money on hand for three to six months of expenses, if possible. Knowing you have a secure stash for emergencies like a big medical bill or expensive car repairs can help bring peace of mind.

However, you’ll also want to make sure you’re investing for the future — and the best thing you can do is to start early. Even a small amount can grow into a fortune with time, so consider using an app that lets you invest with just your “spare change.”

4. Ask for help

Depression Counseling. Desperate Man Telling About Unhappy Life While Professional Psychologist Taking Notes During Appointment In Office. Selective Focus
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Don’t be afraid to talk to someone if your financial anxiety is spiralling out of control — whether that’s a mental health professional or a financial planner. Building “mental wealth” goes both ways.

A good financial planner will examine your situation and help you meet your goals, like planning for retirement, managing investments and dealing with debt.

Just keep in mind that they won’t be directly addressing your emotions or trauma regarding money.

If you can find one, financial therapists specialize in both mental health and money. They can help you rethink your relationship with money, address your coping behaviors and even assist in coming up with the right spending plan.

5. Find other sources of wealth

Female freelancer working from home using laptop computer, woman graphic designer working at cozy art studio
ImYanis / Shutterstock

If your 9-to-5 isn’t generating enough cash for your comfort level, try to take control through other avenues, like starting up a side hustle or investing.

It used to be pretty hard to turn a hobby into a genuine money-making side gig, but nowadays digital marketplaces can help you find eager buyers. You can sell all kinds of talents, from writing to drawing to voice acting.

Don’t have the extra time to spare? Investing is always an option.

Again, you don’t need a bachelor of finance or thousands of dollars to get started. Some investing apps will set up automated portfolios for as little as $1 a month — and even give you money for using them.

On the other hand, if you feel confident enough to make decisions on your own, consider using an investing app that charges zero commissions in order to keep your costs low and maximize your profits.

About the Author

Serah Louis

Serah Louis

Staff Writer

Serah Louis is a staff writer with MoneyWise.com. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, where she double majored in Biology and Professional Writing and Communications.

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