This will likely come as no surprise, but money is the primary cause of stress around the world. Data analytics company GfK did a survey of 22 countries and found that 29% of the 27,000 people surveyed indicated money as the number one cause of their stress.

There’s a lot at stake here, and not just financially. When you become stressed your brain triggers your fight-or-flight response, and this is hard on your body. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are released which impairs your immune system and even your ability to make rational decisions.

There are several variables that influence how stressed you may be over your financial situation. A few of those variables, such as basic living expenses and wages, may not be under your direct control. However, there are several areas that you can control and doing so will go a long way toward reducing your financial stress. Since money is the number one source of stress for so many people, it is important to find and implement strategies that will reduce the emotional strain over finances.

Here are 5 strategies you can use:

Know Where Your Money Is Going

Two important factors for reducing your financial woes is knowing how much money you have coming in, and where that money is going. Since you already know how much money you’re making, the first thing you can do is track your expenses. This may seem basic, but many people don’t keep up with their spending habits. It doesn’t matter if you use pen and paper, or a computer program, but create separate categories (ex. food, utilities, fun) and track where your money is going. Compare how much money you have going out with how much you have coming in, and this one step will immediately reveal why you’re stressed.

Create a Plan

You may feel that creating a budget will only add to your stress, but it’s one of the best ways to get control of your finances and stop worrying about money. A budget puts you in control by allowing you to decide how you will spend your hard-earned money. It will help you cover your most important expenses first, and even show you where you can save a few dollars.

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