Written by Samantha Carter

Inflation and financial strain is real in today’s economy. Financial stress is not only overwhelming, but it also affects our mental and emotional well-being beyond our bank accounts. Whether you’re dealing with mounting debt, a job loss, or uncertainty about the future, financial worries can lead to anxiety, depression, and physical health issues. However, there are strategies and techniques that can help you better manage financial difficulty to regain a sense of control over your life and mental well-being.

Here at Plus by APN, we like to take a holistic approach to mental health. That’s why we focus on more than just your diagnosis and traditional treatment plans. To help facilitate a healthy mental ecosystem, let’s explore 20 effective ways to cope with financial stress. Additionally, we’ll discuss how therapists can provide support in navigating financial challenges by helping to problem-solve and holding you accountable.

Understanding Financial Stress

Before we delve into financial stress coping strategies, it’s essential to understand the nature of financial strain. Financial challenges may arise for a variety of reasons, including:


Mounting credit card debt, student loans, or mortgage payments can create significant financial strain and make the essentials of everyday life difficult to afford. It is estimated that the average American is about $104,215 in debt across mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and credit cards.

Job Loss or Insecurity

Losing a job or facing the threat of unemployment can lead to immense stress and anxiety about meeting financial obligations. It is estimated that around 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and nearly half of Americans have less than $500 in savings to cover them through an emergency. Without financial protection, job loss can mean not being able to afford rent or pay for groceries.

Income Instability

Irregular income or fluctuations in earnings can make it challenging to budget and plan for the future. According to Forbes, one third of Americans have irregular income streams.

Unexpected Expenses

Sometimes, life happens. Medical emergencies, car repairs, or home maintenance issues can quickly deplete savings and increase financial strain.

Retirement Planning

Concerns about retirement savings, investments, and financial security in later years can contribute to long-term stress. It is estimated that roughly half of Americans are not adequately prepared to pay for basic expenses throughout retirement.

20 Strategies for Managing Financial Stress

Given these facts and figures, it’s easy to see why someone might be experiencing financial difficulty. In the face of such overwhelming stress, it’s easy to want to push it away and keep getting by the best we can. However, the only way to get out of a problem and improve our mental health is to face the issue head-on. Below is a list of 20 strategies that can help you do that.

1. Create a Budget

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a budget. This involves tracking all your income and essential expenses while making sure your accounts are balanced. If there is money left over, that can be allocated to other things like savings, debt payoff, and personal spending. If your essential expenses are greater than your income, you’ll want to look into other solutions such as financial assistance programs. Establish a realistic budget to gain control of your resources.

2. Set Financial Goals

Define short-term and long-term financial goals to provide direction and motivation for your financial decisions. No goal is too big or too small. However, it’s important to start with small, obtainable goals and work your way up from there.

3. Build an Emergency Fund

Emergencies happen. That’s why it’s important to save a portion of your income on a regular basis to create a financial safety net for unexpected expenses or loss of income. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 6 months of essential expenses in savings, which is about $36,000 for the average American.

4. Communicate Openly

Discuss financial concerns with your partner or family members to develop a shared understanding and collaborative approach to managing finances. Keeping things quiet tends to further exacerbate financial problems and can even cause strain in relationships where your finances are dependent on one another.

5. Seek Financial Education

Educate yourself about personal finance topics such as budgeting, saving, investing, and debt management to make informed financial decisions. There are many nonprofit and government programs that provide this kind of information for free. Additionally, you can always look up your topics of interest on YouTube for a wealth of free knowledge.

6. Prioritize Debt Repayment

Develop a strategy for paying off debt, focusing on high-interest debt first while making minimum payments on other obligations. It is estimated that the average American pays about $164,066 in interest alone throughout their life. By working to pay more than the minimum fees, you can get out of debt faster and save yourself thousands in the long run.

7. Practice Mindfulness

While mindfulness can’t get you out of debt, it’s an effective strategy to help calm your nervous system so you can be in a good enough head space to tackle financial issues with greater ease. Incorporate mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises to reduce stress and promote emotional well-being.

8. Limit Media Consumption

Avoid excessive exposure to news or social media about financial crises or economic downturns, which can further fuel anxiety and panic. Instead, focus on the things you can control.

9. Focus on What You Can Control

Speaking of the things you can control, this strategy deserves a category of its own. By concentrating on factors within your control, such as spending habits and savings, you can maintain forward momentum in your personal financial goals.

10. Seek Support

Reach out to friends, family, or support groups for emotional support and encouragement during challenging financial times. While it is not yet normalized to talk about money in today’s society, it is clearly an issue we all share.

Part of breaking down stigma about mental health is also breaking down stigma about the negative aspects of life that many people experience. It’s OK to need and want to talk about these things with others. The more we continue stepping forward and sharing our stories, the more our culture will be forced to catch up to the changing times.

11. Explore Additional Income Streams

Consider opportunities for supplemental income through part-time work, freelancing, or side hustles to help you reach your financial goals faster. Fortunately, there are many ways to make money today that are not tied to an hourly wage. Do what you can with what you have. However, be mindful not to work so hard that you are no longer able to tend to your mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual needs.

12. Practice Self-Care

Prioritizing self-care activities such as exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating can help maintain physical and mental well-being during stressful times. This can also make it easier to focus on problem-solving, rather than spending precious time and energy on stress and worry.

13. Avoid Impulse Purchases

In today’s capitalistic society, many of us are addicted to the idea that things can buy happiness. However, it’s important to remember that consumerist culture is not designed to fuel our mental well-being. Rather, it’s perpetuated for the benefit of the person who stands to make money. Resist the temptation to make impulse purchases by implementing a cooling-off period before buying non-essential items. This can help you further reflect on why you really want or need an item before you buy it.

14. Review and Adjust Goals

Much like our mental health, our finances make up an entire ecosystem. Things are constantly changing and evolving. Therefore, making it a priority to regularly review your financial goals and adjust them as needed to stay on track of your goals.

15. Seek Professional Help

Consult with a financial advisor to develop a personalized financial plan tailored to your goals and circumstances. There are also certain nonprofit organizations that offer these kinds of services for free, so make sure to check out 211, a free helpline available in all 50 states that connects inquirers with resources in their area.

16. Explore Government Assistance Programs

In addition to 211, you can also check with your local social services to investigate any potential eligibility for government assistance programs. This can be anything from unemployment benefits and housing assistance to food stamps and healthcare.

17. Practice Gratitude

It may sound silly, but cultivating an attitude of gratitude can really help you to focus on the positive aspects of your life while acknowledging small victories on your financial journey. Also, by focusing on what we have rather than what we lack, we can help calm our anxious minds that may be going into panic mode over financial stress and insecurity.

18. Take Breaks from Financial Stress

While it’s important to make time to think about and plan for your financial wellness, scheduling regular breaks to disengage from financial topics can help you recharge your mental and emotional batteries. There’s nothing wrong with putting the pause button on while you take some time to focus on other aspects of your mental well-being.

19. Develop Coping Strategies

Identify healthy coping mechanisms, such as journaling, creative expression, or spending time in nature, to manage stress and anxiety more effectively. This can help you move through challenging moments with greater ease and awareness.

20. Consider Therapy

Finally, it’s important to consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance for managing financial stress if it’s impacting your mental health.

How Therapists Can Help

While therapists are not financial professionals, they can help coach you through a variety of problems you’re experiencing while offering helpful tools to improve your mental, physical, and emotional health. Therapists play a crucial role in supporting individuals experiencing financial stress, including the ways listed below.

Emotional Support

Therapists offer a safe and nonjudgmental space for clients to express their feelings of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty related to their financial situation.

Cognitive Behavioral Techniques

Therapists employ cognitive-behavioral techniques to help clients identify and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs about money, promoting healthier attitudes and behaviors.

Stress Management Skills

Therapists teach clients relaxation tools, stress management strategies, and mindfulness exercises to reduce the physiological and psychological effects of financial stress.

Problem-Solving Skills

Therapists assist clients in developing practical problem-solving skills and coping strategies to address financial challenges effectively and regain a sense of control.

Financial Therapy

Some therapists even specialize in financial therapy, which integrates traditional therapeutic approaches with financial counseling to address the intersection of money and emotions in clients’ lives.

Finding Freedom From Financial Stress

Financial stress can take a significant toll on your mental, emotional, and physical health, but it’s essential to remember there are strategies and resources to help manage and alleviate this burden. By implementing practical coping strategies, seeking support from loved ones, and considering therapy when needed, individuals can navigate financial challenges with resilience and determination.

Reaching out to a therapist is not a sign of weakness but a proactive step towards improving your mental health and overall quality of life. If you’re struggling with financial stress, don’t hesitate to contact a therapist today for support and guidance on your journey to financial well-being. It’s important to know that this is a common issue. You are not alone and you don’t have to fix this alone either.

Next Steps: Therapy at Plus by APN

Plus by APN serves over 2,000 clients through therapy services alone. Their holistic approach to mental healthcare allows them to treat a diverse group of participants with a wide-range of mental health needs. Additionally, Plus by APN uses a variety of alternative therapies to assist clients in meeting their goals.

Whatever your reason is for needing therapy, they’re here to help. If you’re interested in learning more about Plus by APN therapy services, call 424.644.6486 or fill out the online contact form to speak to someone today.