How to manage financial stress and avoid burnout

Tips to make sure your money helps you live the life you want.

Burnout can happen for many reasons, including being overworked. Dealing with stress can cause problems for your physical and mental health, and your finances.

If you’re over-spending or making spontaneous decisions about money to cope with stress, you might be putting your long-termTerm The period of time that a contract covers. Also, the period of time that an investment pays a set rate of interest.+ read full definition financial health at risk.

Financial stress can also cause burnout. If you’re having trouble sleeping because of money worries, that’s a sign to make some changes.

4 tips to increase your financial resilience

1. Check how you’re doing, really

Before letting financial stress take over, get a reality check on your current accounts.

This can include:

  • Reviewing your budgetBudget A monthly or yearly estimated plan for spending and saving. You work it out based on your income and expenses.+ read full definition to make sure you’re still able to cover essential expenses
  • Reviewing your credit card statements to confirm there are no surprise transactions and you’re able to pay all balances
  • Checking your progress on short-term savings goals, like a vacation fund or emergency fund
  • Meeting with your financial advisor to confirm your progress on your long-term investmentInvestment An item of value you buy to get income or to grow in value.+ read full definition goals

This reality check can help you focus your next steps on what really needs to change, if anything at all. You may be surprised to discover things are not as concerning as you might have thought.

2. Make sure your personal financial goals are still the right ones

If you’re making progress on your savings goals and have enough money to meet your needs, that’s a great accomplishment. Instead of changing your financial planFinancial plan Your financial plan should cover every aspect of your finances: saving and investing, paying down debt, insurance, taxes, retirement planning and estate planning.+ read full definition, you might want to make sure your personal needs are part of your budgeting. For example, do you have enough money allocated for activities that alleviate stress and improve well-being, such as massages or yoga classes, or meeting with a therapist.

If you’ve discovered you’re doing much better than you thought, you might be able to feasibly cut back some hours at work to have more time for yourself and your family. Or your extra income could allow you to budget for a few more personal extravagances to improve your quality of life.

It’s also possible your reality check will show that you’re falling behind with your financial plan.

Be honest about the areas you can adjust. For example, if you’re making large contributions to your retirement fund but having trouble paying essential monthly expenses, that’s something you can change.

It can be stressful to be working towards several financial goals at the same time. If they are still all relevant goals, make sure the amounts you’re saving or investing each month remain realistic. Sometimes reducing the number of goals you have can help you be more focussed and less stressed.

Our debt consolidation calculator can help you visualize how your debtDebt Money that you have borrowed. You must repay the loan, with interest, by a set date.+ read full definition payments might change if you consolidated your debts compared to paying multiple debts at once. If debt feels unmanageable, consider getting help from a professional.

3. Make your budget work for you, not the other way around

If you’re having trouble meeting your essential spending needs (rent or mortgageMortgage A loan that you get to pay for a home or other property. Often the loan is for 20 years or more. You make a set number of payments for a set amount each year.+ read full definition, groceries, prescriptions), then it’s worth reviewing your current spending and savings goals.

If your day-to-day expenses have risen but your income is roughly the same, then it may help to:

Make sure there’s a role for every dollar in your budget — including supporting your mental health needs right now. If you’re investing heavily in your future self with long-term savings goals, but you aren’t caring for your current self, you may find your burnout getting worse.

Working to curtail burnout doesn’t mean taking an extravagant vacation every month. It could simply be planning a weekly lunch date with a friend. Or, you might give yourself a break by booking a day or two off work to recharge after you’ve wrapping up a busy project.

4. Talk about your financial stress

Problems often feel more manageable if you know you’re not alone facing them. Your financial advisor can help you manage financial decisions, but other kinds of support are better for dealing with mental or emotional stress.

If you’re having trouble managing things on your own, find someone — or more than one person — who can listen. This could include a:

  • trusted friend or family member
  • therapist
  • financial counsellor or debt management professional

There’s no shame in asking for help and sharing your story can help you feel less alone and more supported.

It’s not unusual to have set-backs at some point. The path to financial resilience looks a little different for everyone. If you’ve found yourself drifting away from your goals or falling into unhelpful habits, you can still get back on track once again.

Ultimately, your money should help you live the life you want — both now and in the future.

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