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Top Ways to Manage Financial Stress

Avoiding the mental health consequences of financial stress can be the key to overcoming money problems.

But what does being stressed about money mean for our health and well-being? And is there anything we can do about it? Below are some answers.

How Financial Stress Affects Mental Health

Not having enough money can be highly stressful, leading to everything from migraines to feelings of hopelessness and depression.2 Additionally, we’re more likely to make poor health choices when trying to deal with stress. According to the American Psychological Association, among those experiencing financial stress:3

Top Ways to Manage Financial Stress

  • 42% report sleep problems such as lying awake.
  • 40% report spending more than two hours a day engaged in sedentary behaviors like watching television or movies.
  • 36% report overeating or eating unhealthy foods.
  • 27% report skipping meals.
  • 13% report drinking alcohol to manage the stress.

Needless to say, these behaviors aren’t good for your overall health—which is why it’s so important to keep financial stress from taking over your life.

How You Can Lower Financial Stress

  • Create a reasonable budget. It may seem obvious, but many people neglect to put together a functional budget. To get control of your finances, you need to know exactly how much you’re bringing in each month and exactly how much you’re spending, and on what. Only then can you separate essential expenditures from nonessential ones and make the financial decisions necessary to avoid overspending. According to Pamela F. Denning, program director of graduate social work programs at Walden University, “The highest financial priority should be your four walls, which include housing, electricity, water, and any other necessary expenses within the home. If you have options about delaying payments in this area due to the pandemic, be sure you know when the extensions run out and how you will budget to pay these bills once they do.”
  • Don’t neglect debt reduction. A lot of financial advice focuses on savings. Savings are certainly important, but to truly get your finances in order, you need to think about your debt, too. Refinancing a loan at a lower rate or paying off a high-interest credit card might save you more money than any given savings plan because interest payments can consume a significant portion of your income. If you want to get your finances under control, don’t neglect your debt.
  • Expand your options and find better deals. Sometimes, what we want and what we can afford are two different things. Instead of getting caught up buying a certain must-have product expand your options. For instance, don’t splurge on a specific smartphone when you can find great deals on other phones. A willingness to compromise can save you a lot of stress. After all, during a crisis you need to be aware of the differences between needs and wants.
  • Make a choice. When funds are limited, it’s easy to get caught up in whether you should spend your money on one needed thing or on another needed thing. But not making a choice can really increase your stress level. For example, if you find yourself having to choose between college savings and 401(k) savings, go ahead and make a choice. Don’t worry if it’s the “right” choice—it’s likely you can revise your plan later.
  • Talk to a social worker. If you aren’t familiar with social work, you may be asking: What do social workers do? While there are different types of social workers (clinical social workers, medical social workers, school social workers, etc.), all of them help people get through difficult life situations and transitions. That includes financial troubles. If the stress you feel from money is becoming overwhelming—especially if it’s causing problems in your family and relationships—seek out a social work practice with experience helping people through financial difficulties. It can be one of the best choices you make for your own family relationships, as well as your financial and mental health. It’s also good to note that many companies have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that offer these services. Or, if you are out of work, community hotlines and other local services can often be of assistance.

How You Can Help Others Lower Their Stress

With so many people feeling stressed about money and experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression, our communities need more professionals trained in helping others. If you want to be one of those people, consider earning a social work degree such as a Master of Social Work (MSW degree). An MSW program can help you gain the skills you need to start a social work career focused on helping people experiencing financial difficulties.

If you’re concerned you don’t have the time to earn a social work degree, online learning could be the answer. With an online social work degree program, you don’t have to worry about adjusting your work schedule to attend classes on a campus. Instead, when you enroll in an online MSW program, you can complete your coursework from home. Plus, when you earn a master’s in social work online, you can attend classes and handle your studies when it’s most convenient for you. You can even find online schools of social work with CSWE accreditation.

Dealing with financial stress is difficult. With an online MSW degree, you can learn how to help others deal with this and many other stressors.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) degree online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

Note on licensure: The minimum academic credential required to obtain licensure to practice as a social worker in most states is a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Walden University’s MSW program is accredited by CSWE. 

State licensing boards are responsible for regulating the practice of social work, and each state has its own academic, licensure, and certification requirements.

Walden recommends that students consult the appropriate social work licensing board in the state in which they plan to practice to determine the specific academic requirements for licensure. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide information relating to the state-by-state requirements for licensure. However, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all licensing requirements for the state in which he or she intends to practice. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of its coursework or programs will permit an individual to achieve state licensure, authorization, endorsement, or other state credential as a social worker.