Managing Your Worries: How To Not Stress About Finances

Updated April 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

In 2023, researchers analyzed survey data from over 22,000 U.S. adults, finding that financial worries were significantly linked to psychological distress. This may not be surprising; m. Money troubles can affect many aspects of daily life, from what you eat to how you spend your time. When you’re stressed about finances, it might even seem hard to think about anything else. 

But chronic stress can have negative consequences. Although short-term stress can help us respond to challenges, if it continues over a long period, it can lead to anxiety, irritability, and depression. Chronic stress can even have physical health effects like high blood pressure, inflammation, and heart disease. 

Learning to manage money worries in uncertain times can be important for avoiding these outcomes. With that in mind, this article aims to show you how to not stress about finances—or, at the very least, how to stress about them a little less. 

A man in a black shirt sits at the kitchen table with his laptop open infront of him while while looking at the screen with a worried expression.
You don’t have to manage money worries on your own

Practical tips for managing financial stress

Because everyone’s financial situation is different, there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution to financial worries. But there are several steps you can take to reduce stress and take control of your finances. These include:

Understand the source of your stress

It can be tough to stop stressing about money without knowing where the stress is coming from. 

If you’re having trouble finding the root cause, the following steps may help you identify it:

  • Get a full view of your financial situation by gathering all of your financial documents, including bank statements, bills, and credit card statements. Review them to see if any patterns or expenses jump out. 
  • Track all of your spending for a month or two, including minor expenses, then take a look at your record. Keep an eye out for anything that may be contributing to your stress, such as hidden subscription fees or impulse buys. 
  • Make a list of all your debts, including the amounts, interest rates, sources, and minimum monthly payments. See if you can figure out which one is causing you the most strain so you know which one to tackle first. 
  • Make a list of your financial goals, whether buying a house, saving for retirement, or paying off your debt. Take a look at the information you’ve gathered to see if there are any patterns that are getting in the way of your financial plan. 

Anxiety, including financial anxiety, can cause catastrophic thinking that raises your stress levels. Try to take an objective view of your situation to see if there’s an obvious issue. If you can’t identify one, it’s possible that the cause may be mental health-related. 

Increase your financial literacy

Simply having a better understanding of finances can sometimes be enough to bring down your stress levels. Consider setting some time aside each day to read up on investing, saving, managing debt, and budgeting. There are many free courses and tutorials available online that you can take advantage of. By educating yourself, you may be able to make more informed decisions and take away some of the uncertainty around your finances.  

Build an emergency fund

Emergency savings can act as a safety net for unexpected expenses like medical bills and car repairs. Building up savings can seem daunting, but even just putting a small portion of each paycheck into a high-yield savings account can be helpful. 

You can try setting a goal—say, three to six months of living expenses—but try not to get discouraged if you can only put away a little at a time. Over time, you may notice a greater sense of security. 


Make a budget

It may sound cliche, but creating a monthly budget may give you significantly more control over your finances. Without one, it can be hard to tell where your money is going and reduce unnecessary spending. It can help to sort your expenses into categories like rent, utilities, and transportation, prioritizing the most important ones before deciding what to do with what’s left over. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the 50-30-20 rule is a simple, popular method for setting a budget: 50% of your income goes toward “needs,” like rent and groceries, 30% goes toward “wants,” like dining out and shopping, and 20% goes toward savings and repaying debt. 

Mental health strategies for combating money stress

No matter the reason for your financial stress or the practical steps you take to address it, it can also be important to prioritize your well-being. In times of financial hardship, this can be tricky, but taking care of your mental health may help you tackle money challenges with a clearer head. 

That’s why, if you’re stressed about money, the following tips may also be helpful:

  • Prioritize self-care. If money is tight, you may want to avoid extravagant expenses, but simple daily practices can work just as well. Examples include getting plenty of exercise, practicing good hygiene, engaging in hobbies, and practicing mindfulness or meditation.
  • Set financial boundaries. If there’s a friend or family member who’s always borrowing from you, consider setting a boundary on lending money to them. If you have a friend who always wants to go out, try telling them gently that you’re trying to control your spending. Simple limits like these may help you regain a sense of control. 
  • Limit your exposure to triggers. While staying informed can be good, surrounding yourself with reminders of money may lead to increased anxiety. Consider setting a limit on social media or financial news, or change your feeds to expose yourself to more uplifting and helpful money-related content. 
  • Focus on what you can control. While you may not be able to change your bank account balance overnight, shifting your focus to what you can change may help you feel more empowered. Make a list of things you have control over, like your budget, excess spending, and savings, and set small, manageable goals. Making small changes over time can add up to big results. 
  • Consider professional support. Even when you follow the above steps, managing financial stress can be hard on your own. Talking to a mental health professional may help you get a clearer picture of what’s causing your stress and create a personalized strategy for managing it. 
You don’t have to manage money worries on your own

That said, if money is tight, traditional therapy may not be a realistic option, with costs ranging from $100 to $200 for a single session. Online therapy platforms let you attend therapy from your own home, with prices as low as $65 per week. This may make them a more affordable alternative to in-person counseling. 

Studies have found that online therapy can effectively treat stress and anxiety. In a 2022 review, researchers analyzed data from 14 studies of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They found that online therapy was effective at reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress-related disorders


Long-term stress can have negative effects on mental and physical health, and financial worries are a common source of stress. While everyone’s situation is different, you may be able to reduce your financial stress by finding the cause, educating yourself, budgeting, and building an emergency fund. 

You may also find it helpful to set financial boundaries, practice self-care, and focus on what you can control. If financial stress is significantly affecting you, online therapy can be an affordable way to get mental health support.

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