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How to Manage Financial Stress and Build a Better Life

July 13, 2023


If you’re feeling some concerns about your finances, you’re not alone. According to a recent Bankrate survey, 52% of Americans say money negatively impacts their mental health—up sharply from 42% a year ago. People are most stressed about high inflation, rising interest rates, and not having a stable income or job security.

Here are some steps you can take to manage financial stress and get to a better place.

Give it over

One of our consumer culture’s strong messages is, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Celebrated are the rugged individualists, the people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and succeed on their own terms. But that’s not how God designed you to live. You were made for community, beginning with your relationship with God.

If you are being weighed down by some financial concerns, read, reflect on, and take the apostle Peter up on this invitation:

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

Then remind yourself of the powerful Truth found in Matthew 6:25-34, which ends this way:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

Jesus reminds us in this passage that He knows our needs and promises to provide for us. All He asks is that we put Him first in our lives.

Talk it over.

Just as you were made for relationship with God, you were made for relationships with others. That means being there for each other in good times and bad.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:4

What is the law of Christ? Love.

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:14

You might be tempted to believe that others don’t want to be bothered by your worries, but true friends count it an honor when we confide in them. And disclosure begets disclosure. By sharing something about your stresses or struggles with a friend, that is likely to create a safe space for them to do the same with you. Then you can be each other’s mutual encouragement and prayer partners.

Think it over

If you’re feeling stressed, you are likely feeling out of control. While you can’t control everything, you can control some aspects of your situation. So think it through and identify what is within your power to act.

For example, if high inflation is wreaking havoc on your grocery bill, create a price book that lists the prices of the items you buy most often at the store where you typically shop. Be sure to capture the price per ounce or per count. Then try some stores where you typically don’t shop and compare prices. Have you ever shopped for groceries at Walmart? What about Aldi?

Knowing where to get the best prices on the items you buy regularly can really pay off. Even when you factor in the cost of gas and the extra time involved, studies have shown that “cherry picking” — that is, visiting several stores in order to get the best prices — is worth the effort.

If you’re stressed because you can’t afford to do fun things like going to a movie or going out to eat, make a hobby out of finding all of the fun free or low-cost things to do in your community. Look for scenic places to go for a bike ride or hike, see what’s happening at the public library, and invite friends over for an inexpensive potluck dinner instead of going to a restaurant.

If you’re not feeling secure in your job, get qualified for a new one. You could even learn new skills for free. For example, you could get certified with in-demand job skills at no cost via Google.

Giving your financial worries over to God, talking them through with friends, and thinking about what is in your power to act are effective habits not just for times of stress but for all times. You will gain more financial confidence and joy by practicing them regularly.

Matt Bell is the author of Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. He speaks at churches and conferences throughout the country and writes the MattAboutMoney blog.

This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.

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