5 ways to help deal with financial stress and anxiety

A couple goes over their finances together.

If you’re stressed about finances, you’re not alone. A recent survey by Capital One showed 73% of Americans said finances were their number 1 cause of stress in life.1 Especially when you’re strapped for cash, it’s normal to feel anxious. But instead of staying up all night worried about money, it’s time to take concrete steps that may help alleviate your concerns. Here are some steps that may help you stay calm when money is tight.

Do a budget makeover

If you’re stressed about finances, you need to take a look at your budget. Start by writing down your fixed expenses (mortgage, rent, utilities or car payments). Then, you’ll want to review expenses that fluctuate (groceries, entertainment or travel). This is where you might be able to make a few cuts. For example, if you’re going to a coffee shop every morning, why not brew a cup at home? Once you come up with strategies to reduce your spending, you may have more control over your money.

Set financial goals

Once you have an accurate picture of your spending, it may be easier to plan for short-term and long-term financial goals. Your short-term financial goals could be things you can realistically achieve in the next month or two. A good short-term financial goal is to save money for an emergency fund. For example, you may want $1,000 put away for anything unexpected, such as car repairs or replacing important home appliances. This way, if something requires an urgent payment that you were not planning for, you can use the cushion of your emergency fund to avoid breaking your budget.

For long-term financial goals, consider what might be really important to you in the future. Do you want to put a bigger down payment on a house or finally pay off a loan? Goals like these will likely take you longer to meet, so it’s better to budget for them now so they’ll be achievable sooner.

Educate yourself on finances

Making choices about your financial future can seem daunting, especially if you don’t feel like you understand your choices. Now is the time to learn. Spend 20 minutes each day to educate yourself on finances. Where to start? Go to your library and spend some time in the financial section. Consider taking an online course in accounting, budgeting or retirement planning. Download a financial podcast. Subscribe to a financial newsletter to get money tips delivered into your inbox. The more you learn, the more empowered you may feel.

Get support from family and friends

You might feel alone, but you’re not the only person worried about their finances. Your spouse or partner might be feeling the same way. Setting aside time to talk about how you’re feeling and looking at the finances together can help put your mind at ease. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend who understands your financial situation. Even though you might feel embarrassed to talk about your finances, getting a fresh perspective on your situation might be helpful.

See a financial advisor

A financial advisor is someone who can help you achieve your financial goals. They might help you come up with a plan for investing, saving, budgeting, insurance and tax strategies. You can work with a financial advisor at any stage of your life. According to Smart Asset, financial advisors typically charge a flat fee of $1,500 to $2,500 to create a financial plan or charge 1% of assets under management for your portfolio.2 If you’re part of an underserved or at-risk community, the Financial Planning Association offers free financial planning advice from their volunteer financial planners.3


  1. “73% of Americans rank their finances as the No. 1 stress in life, according to new Capital One CreditWise survey,” CNBC, last accessed December 9, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/select/73-percent-of-americans-rank-finances-as-the-number-one-stress-in-life/.
  2. Becca Stanek, “How Much Does a Financial Advisor Cost?” SmartAsset, last accessed December 9, 2021, https://smartasset.com/financial-advisor/financial-advisor-cost.
  3. “Need Pro Bono Financial Planning?” Financial Planning Association, last accessed December 9, 2021, https://www.financialplanningassociation.org/lead/pro-bono-financial-planning-community-programs.