4 Ways to Manage Financial Stress During Economic Uncertainty

Money is one of the biggest stressors in many Americans’ lives — especially during a pandemic. More than one-third of respondents to a recent study (38%) cited money as their greatest cause of stress, which outranked personal health (25%), work (21%) and relationships (16%).

With tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stress levels and anxiety are likely climbing, potentially leading to a feeling of hopelessness that could have a serious impact on your quality of life. Certified Public Accountants (CPA) from the Virginia Society of CPAs offer these tips to help you better manage your financial stress.

4. Take financial inventory.

How much are you saving and how much do you owe? Are you spending more than you make? Are you maintaining manageable debt levels and staying current on all bills?

Know where you stand financially. Regularly review your spending habits, debt levels, savings and investments and credit reports and scores. Monitor cash flow. Know how much is coming in, where you are spending and where you can cut and increase savings. Take inventory of all debt and categorize it by type, institution held, interest rates and maturity dates. Also look at all recurring costs, such as utilities, to determine what must be paid each month. The 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website from the American Institute of CPAs offers a free home budget calculator to simplify this process.

3. Know what you can (and can’t) control.

One great way to take control of your finances is to build a solid financial plan. Work with a CPA or financial advisor to determine retirement and saving needs and investment growth targets, then build an investment portfolio to reach those goals. Do not panic at sudden or quick changes in the markets. Stick with your plan.

Be sure to review that plan with your financial advisor on a regular basis to adjust for changes in your savings needs, growth targets or other life events, such as marriage, divorce, a new child or job loss.

2. Take care of your physical, mental and emotional health.

Go out for a walk or a jog to improve physical and mental strains. Give yourself a mental break by taking time for meditation, yoga or catching up on that book you wanted to read. Or reach out to family or friends to see how they are doing and talk about your concerns.

Don’t be afraid to seek help from trained mental health professionals who can help you address your stress and anxiety.

1. Find opportunities and tools to help you today and in the future.

One great way to reduce your financial stress it to put much of your money management on autopilot.

First, take advantage of autopay options to reduce how many bills and payments you have to remember each month. At the same time, set up automatic savings plans to build an emergency fund for future economic downturns.

Leverage apps and other software to track your spending and find areas to cut back. There are many wonderful free ones available. Sign up for alerts from your bank or credit card providers to make sure you can fraudulent charges quickly.

If you can implement good financial management and planning, you will be in a great position to maintain that program beyond an economic downturn.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a local CPA to help you navigate economic uncertainty, create tax-planning strategies and plan for the future.

The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) is the leading professional association in the Commonwealth dedicated to empowering CPAs to thrive. Founded in 1909, the VSCPA has more than 13,000 members who work in public accounting, industry, government and education. For more information, please visit the Press Room on the VSCPA website at vscpa.com or call (800) 733-8272.