According to a national survey, 7 out of every 10 college students feels stressed about their personal finances. The survey found that 64% of college students used loans to help pay for college.
Students end up being burdened with debt as they go further in their college education.
The average student or graduate has a $35,000 debt that can’t be discharged even under bankruptcy. The fact that these loans follow you for the rest of your life (and always seem to be growing) can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.
Designed to help a student pay for their education, student loans do have their benefits. However, the rate at which they seem to accumulate leaves a trail of financially strained graduates.
This is bound to take a psychological toll on a person.
Student Loan Hero reported that more than 70% of students complained of suffering from headaches and insomnia due to stress caused by their loans. The greater the financial strain, the more likely a person experiences stress.
To make matters worse, the stress of college debt can start to impact your entire financial future:
- Your payments are extremely high, so you have to sacrifice your quality of living in order to make your monthly payments.
- You make late payments or miss a few, so your credit takes a hit.
- You struggle to pay off your student loans so you end up relying on credit cards for daily expenses and other bills, which gets you into more debt.
In the end, the typical events of adulthood are delayed as you struggle to cope with stress and pay off your loans.
Being able to reduce this constant cloud of worry hanging over your head enables you to relax. But how do you do it?
Here are a five ways to deal with student loan stress:
1. Create A Budget And Stick To It
Stress is mostly characterized by the feeling of loss of control. A budget is the best weapon you have to taking control of your finances.
Many people overlook the importance of a budget. Putting it off as something only “poor people” do.
Well guess what? If the loans you’ve accrued are stressing you out, you’re likely to be “poor people” soon enough.
We need to get you back to a healthy anxiety free state. It begins with looking at your finances, and realistically budgeting on your spendings.
You’ll be able to keep track of how and when your money is spent.
Sticking to a budget may be a bit hard in the beginning. But the key is to keep at it and get consistent.
Use an app like Mint to help you create and manage your budget. You’ll be able to see where your money goes each month and how well you’re pacing towards your budget.
When you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Take a step back and remind yourself of why you’re doing this.
It might even be a problem with your behavior and not the budget. No matter how big your budget is, if you have a habit of splurging on new shoes every time you go to the mall, the problem isn’t the budget—it’s you.
Be honest with yourself and try to modify your ways.
In no time, you’ll be able to feel more in control and your stress and anxiety will decrease too.
Here’s a great article on how to create a budget for beginners. It’s particularly helpful because it accounts for debt you might be paying off, like student loans.
2. Determine What You Can Change
This part is all about you understanding the difference between what you need and what you want.
Get an inventory of your assets, income and expenses. Check to see if theres anything in particular that might be hemorrhaging your finances.
You’ll find that some funds have been going to things you might not necessarily need. If you note that you might have a spending habit that is unhealthy, seek help.
There are several support groups that are ready to help. You might even recruit the help of a trusted person to keep you in check.
In the end, these little things that you’ve been overlooking might be fueling your anxiety. Do whatever is in your power to alter your state of stress.
Some people are very comfortable with stripping down to the basics for a period of time until they feel financially stable. If you feel you can do that, then by all means.
Just remember to occasionally give yourself a treat for the good job you’re doing. However, there are others who are accustomed to a certain standard of living and can’t survive only on basics. Do not be alarmed, there is room for you to include your little perks. Only make sure its included in the budget. What we don’t want to happen is random splurges of funds, they never end well. Our aim is to make you comfortable with your finances even with the loan hanging in the background. It strengthens you in the knowledge that whatever may come, you are still in control. Capable and flexible in managing your funds.
3. Do Something Active
Feeling stressed usually comes with a feeling of suffocation and elevated anxiety. Physical activity can be useful in burning out these excessive stress hormones. Get yourself a go to activity when you’re feeling boxed in. From running to taking a walk, you’ll be able to breath freely in the open. Physical exercise increases your energy levels and increases muscle strength. The feeling of hopelessness associated with stress is kicked to the curb, replaced with a sense of achievement brought on by exercising. Your concentration will be boosted counteracting the brain stall that usually comes with stress. At the end of it all, you’ll be well worn out causing blissful sleep. Goodbye insomnia.
4. Set Small Reachable Goals
Making a firm plan of actions is always advisable. To avoid adding to your stress, start with the small goals. Of course prioritizing the financial goals as they’re your immediate worry. Contemplating on bigger goals might be a bit overwhelming. So begin by writing down your small goals. You are far more likely to reach your goal if you’ve noted it down somewhere. It not only serves as a reminder, but you’re also able to visualise what you want to achieve. Writing makes things more tangible and real. Try to handle one goal at time. Small it may be, but give it its own timing. Taking on too many goals at a time is a recipe for disaster and you’ll find yourself not achieving anything.
The whole point of this exercise is to strengthen your sense of purpose. We tend to get anxious when we start feeling useless. These milestones enable you to grow and achieve things with ease. Scheduling every goal with a set time, and being able to tackle it makes you more time conscious. You are able to plan yourself better. Call in de-cluttering of the brain. Things become much clearer when you have brain order. It also enables you to eventually be able to handle bigger challenges.
5. Talk to Someone
A problem half shared is a problem half solved. You might not feel like it works that way, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Finding someone to talk to eases the frustration that have been building up inside you. It gives you an opening to express yourself and share what is weighing you down. You can take that opportunity to vocalize the solutions you’ve come up with to the person. They can help to keep you accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself. The more people involved in seeing you achieve your goals, the more likely you are to succeed. If this person happens to be a financial aid officer or anyone knowledgeable in the field, they can even help you come up with better ideas. It will be a heavy burden off your shoulders, that’s for sure.
Stress associated with ones finances hinders you from concentrating and completing tasks. You end up feeling like you’re stuck in an unpleasant rut. Recognizing you have a problem, and looking out for ways to help yourself it key to moving on. It might be challenging at first, but eventually a slight change of lifestyle will help you refocus your life on what’s important. In the end, hard work and determination will be the reason you’ll be able to get rid of this burden. Staying grounded by alleviating that stress will help you achieve all this.