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Managing Stress While Budgeting for Big Purchases

Making a large purchase like a car or home can be exciting. Perhaps you’re able to upgrade to a larger space or a newer model of vehicle, making your daily life easier and more comfortable. Maybe you’re getting a new appliance that’s more efficient and less noisy than the one you’ve been putting up with for years. You feel happy and relieved and can’t wait to make the leap. 

However, it’s also perfectly normal for stress and anxiety to creep in underneath more positive feelings. You may be concerned about buyer’s regret if your purchase doesn’t live up to your expectations or anxious about finding the best price. Some people simply get stressed over spending large amounts of money, whether the outcome is good or not. 

Though these worries and doubts are a natural part of the decision-making process, it’s unhealthy to let them consume you. Overwhelming stress can lead to panic attacks, insomnia, and other health issues, so it’s important to take care of yourself and find ways to regulate your anxiety. 


Understand Your Financial Big Picture

One of the best ways to alleviate financial stress is to understand your cash flow, savings, and expenses comprehensively. Knowing exactly how much money you bring in and how you allot your expenses can help determine how much you can spend without hurting yourself financially. 

Understanding your finances also engenders confidence, which is the opposite of anxiety. Instead of guessing how much you have to spend and save, you’ll have a concrete plan to get you where you want to go. 

Talk to a Financial Advisor

Speak to a financial advisor before making a big purchase, whether or not you understand your financial situation. If you need help understanding your finances, they can explain it in plain terms and help you gain better control over your money. Financial advisors also know about loans, financing, paying down debt, and discounted mortgage rates. 

No question is too small or frivolous when it comes to your money. “What ifs” are a huge contributor to stress and anxiety, so having thorough answers to your questions and a solid financial plan can go a long way toward alleviating them. 

Recognize Your Triggers

Stress around money can come from many different sources. While understanding your finances can relieve some of that stress, some individuals have trauma around money matters. This trauma can make any conversation about money stressful, no matter how innocuous. 

Once you recognize money matters trigger your anxiety, you can take steps to manage your reaction and set boundaries around these kinds of discussions. For example, you may ask your spouse not to bring up finances before bed, or you can set aside specific times to discuss them. That way, you have time to prepare yourself for the conversation so you can focus on the topic instead of your discomfort. 

If possible, it’s also a good idea to talk to a counselor or therapist about your trauma to learn to manage it better over time. 

Develop Healthy Coping Methods

When budgeting for a large purchase, those who experience money anxiety may find themselves more anxious than usual. You may have trouble sleeping, increased or lost appetite, unpredictable moods, or even experience panic attacks. All of these are normal physiological responses to stressful situations, but prolonged stress can take a toll on your overall health. That’s why we instinctively turn to coping mechanisms to regulate our bodies and minds. 

Some coping methods are healthier than others, so it’s important to develop habits that alleviate stress rather than ignore or exacerbate it. For instance, watching a movie with a bowl of ice cream may be relaxing, but it doesn’t help regulate your body or brain chemistry—it’s simply a way to ignore your problems. Instead, try journaling, taking a walk, or meditating to rebalance your stress hormones. Then you can indulge in your favorite activities to enjoy your time rather than hide from your problems.  

Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes for Klarity, an online ADHD diagnosis service.

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