Make one financial decision at a time.
When people are faced with multiple, back-to-back decisions that test willpower, research suggests that their willpower can easily be depleted. Space out your financial decisions instead of making too many at once and becoming overwhelmed.
Track your spending.
Research shows that tracking can be an effective tool. Keep a daily list of how you spend your money.
Identify your financial stressors and make a plan.
Take stock of your financial situation and where money causes you stress. Write down ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your money more efficiently. Then commit to a plan and review it regularly. Although this can be anxiety-provoking in the short term, writing a plan and sticking to it can reduce stress. If you’re having trouble paying bills or staying on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank, utilities or credit card company to set up a payment plan.
Recognize how you deal with stress related to money.
In tough economic times, some people are more likely to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities such as smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. The strain can also lead to more conflict and arguments between partners. Be alert to these behaviors — if they are causing you trouble, consider seeking help from a psychologist or community mental health clinic before the problem gets worse.
While it may not be possible to stay away from shopping malls and stores altogether, limiting your time there can help you manage spending. Choose an alternative social activity over shopping. Avoid opportunities for impulsive spending by leaving credit and debit cards at home and only carrying the amount of cash you can afford to spend.
Remember what’s important.
Commercialism can overshadow the true sentiment of the holiday season. When your holiday expense list outstrips your monthly budget, scale back. Remind yourself that family, friends and relationships matter more than material objects.
Ask for support.
Research shows that having a support system can help you reach your goals. Surround yourself with people you trust who will support your financial goals and want to help you succeed.
This article was reprinted with permission by the American Psychological Association (APA).