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How to Manage Money Stress and Anxiety

Money stress is the top source of worry for many Australians. Financial stress can be overwhelming, and it can even impact your mental health, physical health and relationships. Let’s take a look at what it is and what you can do about it.

What is financial stress?

Financial stress is anxiety, stress and emotional distress related to money. 

It can manifest in many ways and affect anyone, anytime. Whether you’re out of work, you’ve taken a financial hit or you’re struggling to keep up with cost of living pressures, worrying about money can have a negative impact on your life and lifestyle.

What causes financial stress and anxiety?

People often feel financial anxiety and stress when they’re unable to cover their expenses, have too much debt, have lost money or live paycheque-to-paycheque without a financial buffer like savings or an emergency fund. You might worry about how to afford food, how to pay bills and whether assets like their home or car may be taken away if you are struggling to keep up with payments.

What are the symptoms of financial stress?

Financial stress symptoms go beyond being a bit worried about money. The personal effects of financial stress can include:

  • Constant worrying or ruminating about money.

  • Sleeping difficulties.

  • Fighting with friends or family about money.

  • Muscle tension, headaches, gastrointestinal issues common symptoms of stress and anxiety.

  • Mood changes such as feeling low, irritable, teary.

  • Becoming overly preoccupied with money or otherwise avoidant of money.

How can I manage my financial stress?

Feeling stressed about financial challenges is understandable and it’s normal to feel worried about money sometimes. 


A common coping strategy when we feel stressed or overwhelmed is to avoid the issue. Unfortunately, problems typically don’t go away when you avoid them, so you need to find a way forward.

Dealing with financial stress might feel hard but it doesn’t have to be. The most helpful thing to do is to confront it step by step and remember that you’re not alone.

Here's how you can manage financial stress:

  • Figure out what’s causing the stress – so you understand the problem and can identify what you need to do to tackle it.

  • Track your spending and expenses – get clear on where your money is going and how much you need to maintain the life you want.

  • Tackle one problem at a time – break it down into smaller tasks that feel achievable. Hear Wisr's Dr Lili Sussman talk to the Shares for Beginners podcast about how changing your habits can reduce money stress.

  • Look after yourself – focus on self-care, breathing and relaxation strategies to help regulate your emotions. Try these helpful ways of managing stress, as an alternative to potentially unhelpful ways such as alcohol, emotional spending or gambling.

  • Get support – don’t be afraid to seek emotional support from loved ones and practical support from professionals if needed for example, by contacting your bank, Centrelink or crisis support services like Lifeline.

Some examples of financial stress

You may suffer financial stress if you:

  • are retrenched or lose your job

  • have been unemployed for a long period of time

  • are unable to get full time work

  • spend more than you earn and can’t keep up with bills

  • have an income that isn’t keeping up with the increasing costs of living

  • you have been scammed or lost money through investments

  • you struggle with an addiction like problem gambling or impulse shopping.

Remember, financial stress and mental health issues are very common.

"Whatever your financial situation, there is a solution and support is available. Make a plan, stay focused on the next step and seek help when you need it."

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What is money stress?

Money stress, also known as money anxiety or financial stress, is anxiety, stress and emotional distress related to money. Whether you’re out of work, you’ve taken a financial hit or you’re struggling to keep up with cost of living pressures, it can have a negative impact on your life and lifestyle. Money stress and anxiety are common.

Why do my finances make me anxious?

Worrying about your finances and if you have enough money to live today and into the future can cause you to feel stress and anxiety. It’s normal to experience money stress from time to time, but if it becomes debilitating consider seeking professional support. 

What is debt stress?

Debt stress is a form of financial stress caused by having a level of debt you believe you will not be able to repay.

Can financial stress affect me physically?

Financial stress can take its toll on your body. It can affect your sleep, lower your sex drive, and cause muscle pain and headaches.

How can I relieve financial pressure?

To relieve financial pressure you need to take steps to manage the situation. This can include figuring out what’s causing the stress, tracking your spending and expenses, tackling one problem at a time, looking after yourself and getting support.


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Did you find this content helpful?

Disclaimer: This article contains general information only, and is not general advice or personal advice. Wisr Services does not recommend any product or service discussed in this article. You must get your own financial, taxation, or legal advice, and understand any risks before considering whether a product or service discussed in this article may be appropriate for you. We have taken reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but the information is subject to change. We may not update the article to reflect any change.

James is a marketing and communications professional with a passion for leading high-performance teams. He likes what he does… a lot.

James, Chief Growth Officer

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