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7 Proven Ways To Ease Your Financial Anxiety

Finance

When I was living in Atlanta with no job, I was the most stressed that I've ever been in life. I even had to see a therapist a few times due to the anxiety and depression that I was experiencing because I was broke and jobless.

I was struggling to even get out of bed every single day, yo.

Financial stress and anxiety is a leading cause of stress in the U.S. and I don't know about you, but I think that's absolutely insane! In fact, it's one of the reasons why I wanted to write about this serious topic. I want you to stop worrying so much about your finances and start doing the work that it takes to turn your situation around. I had to do what I needed to do while I was struggling and that's when I decided that Atlanta wasn't the place for me (after getting evicted of course) and asked my dad to help me move back home.

Let's face it, we've all been stressed out about our financial situation at some point in our lives (unless you've had everything handed to you since birth). Whether you've stressed out about all of your bills piling up, you having more month left than money, or how you were going to even afford to eat, it's something that's totally relatable.

Things can get pretty serious if you let it get out of hand though. When you get to the point where you are stressing about money on a consistent basis, there's additional things that you need to be worrying about. Stress and anxiety can cause a ton of damage to you, both psychologically and physically.

As a mental health professional, it's super important for me to spread awareness of how money can impact our mental health. Financial worries contribute to a decreased quality of life and that's the complete opposite of what I want for you. I want you to live the life of your dreams without any hesitation or worries. You have total control over your finances and you have the power to change your situation and ease your anxiety.

Here are 7 ways that you can stress easing that stress right away.

Stop being a Debbie Downer.

That negative attitude you have isn't helping you one bit. You have to start focusing on the positive instead of being negative all of the time. If you don't change your way of thinking, you're not going to be successful. Having a positive attitude about your finances isn't going to all of a sudden make money fall out of thin air, but it will definitely help with easing your anxiety. Take out some time to identify all of the good things about your finances and focus on those things.

Stop with the comparing.

You've gotta stop looking at what her, her, and them are doing and buying if you want to decrease your stress. Constantly making comparisons to others isn't doing you any good. Just because you see them taking trips every week, buying expensive cars and clothes, and having it up all the time doesn't necessarily mean they're ballin'. They could be putting on a real good front while they struggling just like the next person. You never know what's going on behind closed doors.

Instead of wasting your time focusing on what everybody else is doing, use that energy to determine what you need to be doing to feel better about your finances.

Once you put those guidelines in place and start working towards them, you'll be able to measure your own success without worrying about what they're doing on the internet.

Get educated.

In order to ease some of your anxiety, make sure that you're educating yourself about personal finances. Things won't be so stressful once you grasp the knowledge and tools needed to gain control over your money. Do your research, talk to a financial advisor, take a course, do whatever you need to do to increase your understanding.

Stack your coins ASAP.

Y'all, an emergency fund eliminates soooo much stress! When those random things happen that you have to come out of pocket for, you won't be scrambling and struggling to come up with the money (or reach for that credit card). Ideally, having at least 3 months of expenses saved up can save you a ton of heartache and frustration in the end. No longer will you have to call up your family and friends to help you!

Related: Managing Your Money: What They Don't Teach In School

Be more intentional.

There are a few ways in which you can shop a little smarter. You can use coupons for everything. When shopping for clothes, shop off season. Grocery shop only once or twice a week instead of everyday, it'll save you some money. Also, stick to a grocery list. If it isn't on the list, don't pick it up and throw it in your cart! Walk into the store with a specific budget in mind, don't go over that! When I grocery shop, I have my calculator out and I calculate everything that I pick up and put in my cart to ensure that I'm staying in my lane (literally).

Decrease the amount of debt you have.

This action step is MAJOR! If you haven't done so already, make a list of all of your debts and their amounts owed (smallest to largest). Create an action plan for attacking those debts. As you start cutting back on your expenses, you'll have a few coins to put towards your debts. Once you decrease some of your debts, you will be able to free up even more of your money. Ideally, this 'extra' money should be used to attack the remaining debts that you have so that you can start using that money to save and build wealth.

Related: I Cleared $35,000 Worth Of Debt While Making $12 An Hour

Treat yourself.

Have you hit one of your goals? Use this accomplishment to do something good for yourself! You don't want to be too strict and uptight when it comes to getting your finances together. However, you don't wanna be too lax either! When treating yo' self, you don't have to spend a bunch of money. Here's a few suggestions: Take a bubble bath. Relax. Give yourself a mani and pedi. Cook yourself a special meal. Take a day off of work for yourself. Binge on your favorite movies. Invite some of your besties over for a night full of laughter. Go to a free museum. There are a ton of things that you can do that's good for yourself without breaking the bank.

Here's a quick recap: Make sure you're thinking and speaking positively about your finances, educating yourself, treating yourself good, getting out of debt ASAP, and stacking your coins boo.

Now let's talk about it. Do you feel stressed out at the very thought of your financial situation? How do you handle everything? Sound off in the comments, I wanna hear from you!

*Originally published on Debt Free Black Girl

Featured image by Getty Images

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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