Inflation is taking a toll on many Americans’ mental health, but it’s been affecting women more than men. A recent survey conducted by Stash found that 60% of women said inflation was taking a toll on their mental health, compared to 52% of men. In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with Lauren Anastasio, director of financial advice at Stash, about how women can ease their inflation-related stress and anxiety.
Spend on Things That Spark Joy
The Stash survey found that almost half (49%) of respondents admit that inflation has forced them to cut back on things or activities that make them happy. You may have to be mindful of your spending due to inflation, but this doesn’t mean you should eliminate “fun” spending entirely, as this can certainly take a toll on your mental well-being.
“By allocating a portion of your monthly budget to ‘fun money,’ you’ll find yourself more motivated to stick to it,” Anastasio said. “After all, you’re bound to spend money on social activities or treating yourself at some point during the month, so the most responsible thing you can do is actually plan for it. Anticipating using money for something you’ll enjoy will make the activity of budgeting a little less daunting. Remember that budgeting shouldn’t feel like a chore — it’s a habit that helps keep you in control of your money and not the other way around.”
To keep spending anxiety at bay, find more free or inexpensive activities that bring you happiness.
“Summer is a great time to get out more and spend time with friends or family, and there’s no better time to take advantage of free events,” Anastasio said. “Summer is a time for many outdoor activities like festivals, fairs and concerts. By filling your calendar with free or low-cost activities, you’ll be less tempted to splurge on an expensive day trip, amusement park, concert or other event that could blow up your budget.”
You also need to be willing to make some trade-offs.
“You may decide to cut some things out entirely or cut back on what you spend on certain items in order to keep more things that bring you joy,” Anastasio said. “The most important thing to remember is that it’s about compromise. Yes, things are more expensive and nobody wants to have to give up the fun stuff, but as long as you’re willing to make some sacrifices to create room in your budget, you can still look forward to the things that make you happy.”
Check in on Your Debt
Debt can be a major source of stress, so adding inflation on top of it can exacerbate these feelings. Consider working on eliminating your debt to help manage your money-related stress.
“If you are struggling to manage debt obligations, there are free resources available to you through credit counseling,” Anastasio said. “It’s very important that you do your research and find credible nonprofits that offer free credit counseling and avoid predatory debt-consolidation companies. I suggest only considering working with a company with a .org website. You can find more guidance on choosing a credit counselor from the Federal Trade Commission’s government website.”
Seek Outside Help
To manage money-related stress, Anastasio recommends meditation, exercise, yoga, journaling, breathing exercises, budgeting and financial journaling. However, if you find that your stress is difficult to manage on your own, it could be beneficial to seek out professional help.
“I encourage you to be proactive about both your physical and mental health by consulting medical professionals about your financial circumstances,” Anastasio said. “Let your primary care physician know about the potential sources of stress so they can give you appropriate guidance. This is also a great opportunity to consult with a therapist or other mental health professional who can help you approach stressful circumstances productively.”
GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.
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