Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Relieve Stress and Anxiety with Personal Financial Budgeting


Why can budgeting relieve stress?

As if three lockdowns in themselves aren't enough to bring us stress and anxiety, we are now finding ourselves with added extra financial stress as our incomes are either reduced to 80% of our wage or worse...no pay at all. From March 2020 to February 2021 we are hanging in there ..... or maybe just about. But how much more can our purses and spending tolerate? How can we set a budget on so little? Having a plan or a budget can positively affect our emotional state and relieve us from symptoms of stress. Planning helps us to feel in control and assists us to look seriously at our spending habits and drive them in the right direction. There is also a certain amount of pleasure in knowing that we can make ends meet financially if we put our minds to it. 

This is a personal subject close to my heart at present, along with many working people. I have found myself some months, with just a few pennies left in my account and having to choose between what is a necessity and what can be 'left' til next pay day. The last year has taught me to think about my spending, what I can live without and what is really worth a few extra pennies.

Budgeting Tools

For the last 7 months I have been using a budgeting tool to help me with my spending. It is such a simple idea but has had quite an impact on the way I spend my income. Probably in the days prior to lockdown, I would waste money on things I didn't really need and many times I wasted cash on impulse buys. When you have a limited income it is very interesting to look at your spend and find ways to cut back on purchases whilst still enjoying little treats. I have attached a link for this 'Budget Tool' (above) so that you can download and have a go at budgeting yourself. It is a google sheet so you may need to convert it to the software you have on your device already or download google docs. I have even managed to put aside some savings on the odd month, just by keeping an eye on my outgoings using this budgeting tool.

Example Budget

The budgeting tool automatically calculates your potential spend as well as your savings for the month from your monthly income. All you need to do is input your actually spend and the rest is calculated for you. As the month progresses you will see a pattern occurring and can start to make appropriate adjustments to save in certain areas of your expenses. 

So....How can budgeting ease financial stress:

  • A budget can actually help you save - Without any idea of your spending, how can you even think about saving? Once you physically see how you spend your money with a budget, you will find a 'benchmark' figure. Without a budget we tend to only see the amount that's left in our bank account at the end of the month. Or perhaps our surplus funds are seen as spare cash rather than money that can be saved for something we 'really' want, say a holiday or home improvements. So instead we use this 'surplus' to impulse buy, when remembering that handy gadget we saw in a magazine or just feel we need to treat ourselves at the end of a hard month. Don't get me wrong here, we should treat ourselves and I often do.......but nowadays I do this with a little more thought. With careful consideration and allocating the amounts we need for both living and social expenses, the month end surplus cash can help build savings, which in turn brings us less stress and some financial peace.
  • A Budget plan opens your eyes in ways to save money - Once you start your budget plan and see your expenses, it can be an incentive to look at the areas that you can cut your spend and release more cash. This gives you more opportunities to save. This exercise is not to remove or eradicate any expenses that you may have, but just to reduce the spend. For example, you may wish to look at your food shopping? Are there ways that you can take advantage of discount cards, coupons or cheaper brands (shops own brand) . Can you be more savvy and purchase special offers and use these ingredients rather than going for the usual purchases. My favourite past time at the moment is popping into the local super market and buying the fresh mince meat in the 'reduced price' section.  This is normally close to it's sell by date and the price is reduced by almost half. This can be frozen and cooked at a later date making several substantial meals. There maybe areas of your spend that you can rearrange some better deals and interest rates with your credit card company and bank, or switching your energy companies and wifi packages.
  • Budgeting and goals - Do you have financial goals? I for one love to travel and have a few goals yet to achieve. For me, the world is here to discover but I also have to be realistic, so I take one step at a time. Financial goals are like any other, they do take time. Think of your financial goal as you set your budget. It is a good idea to open a separate savings account for any long term goals that you have. Add into your budget plans the amount you feel you can put to one side each month (no matter how small) and watch your savings grow. This can also lead to a positive mindset as you see an achievement in the making at some point in the future. Fulfilling long term financial goals help you build financial security.
  • Budgeting and self-discipline - Budgeting can feel quite a challenge at first, however once you get into the 'swing' of living within financial boundaries, you will actually build good habits, acquire reflective financial decisions and will spend less. This will lead into more savings, cash in your pocket and peace of mind with your finances.

In summary creating a budget can ease away financial stress and anxiety. Rather than ignoring financial worries, a budget will help you to take control of your spending and help you to build positive habits and reflective financial decisions. You will feel better if you face your financial challenges head on and take small but significant steps in the right direction. Setting yourself a personal budget will help you save, as well as boosting your emotional health. 
There are some good sources that will help you with your budgeting and enable you to see all your financial spends from weekly to annually. This will assist you in setting up your own personal budget plan depending on your individual weekly or monthly income.  Free Budget Planner   Which - 50 Ways to Save Money      Money Saving Expert


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