FINANCIAL stress is an ever-present problem for many Malaysians.
According to a survey by iMoney in 2021, nearly 60% of Malaysians reported feeling financially stressed, with 46% stating that they have difficulty meeting their financial obligations.

This is a concerning issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds, causing negative effects on their physical and mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life.

Let’s explore some effective strategies to help deal with financial stress and regain control of your finances.

To address financial stress, it’s important to understand what it is and what causes it.

Financial stress occurs when an individual is unable to meet his financial obligations, such as paying bills, debts or other expenses.

The main causes of financial stress in Malaysia include low income, high cost of living, debt, lack of savings and unexpected expenses.

It is crucial to identify the signs of financial stress early on to prevent it from escalating.

Some common signs of financial stress include constantly worrying about money, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, feeling anxious or depressed, arguing with family members or friends about money, ignoring bills or other financial obligations and using credit cards to pay for basic necessities.

One of the most effective ways to cope with financial stress is to create a budget and stick to it.

A budget will help you track your expenses, identify areas where you can cut costs and plan for future expenses.

You can use a budgeting app or spreadsheet to help you keep track of your spending.

Reducing your expenses is another effective way to cope with financial stress.

Look for ways to cut costs such as eating out less, reducing your utility bills or shopping for cheaper alternatives.

You can also negotiate with your service providers to lower your bills.

Increasing your income can help you ease your financial stress.

Consider taking on a part-time job, freelancing or starting a side hustle to earn extra money.

You can also explore opportunities for career advancement or ask for a raise at work.

Having an emergency fund can help you deal with unexpected expenses and reduce your financial stress.

Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund.

You can start small and gradually build up your savings over time.

A financial plan is a crucial aspect of managing financial stress.

It involves setting financial goals and developing a roadmap to achieve them.

A financial plan can help you prioritise your spending, track your progress and keep you motivated.

Here are some steps to help you develop a financial plan.

The first step in developing a financial plan is to identify your financial goals.

This can include paying off debts, saving for retirement, buying a house or starting a business.

Be specific about your goals and write them down.

Once you have identified your financial goals, assess your current financial situation.

This includes calculating your net worth, reviewing your income and expenses and analysing your debts and assets.

Create a budget that aligns with your financial goals.

Allocate your income towards your expenses, debts and savings.

Use a budgeting app or spreadsheet to help you track your spending.

Implement your financial plan by taking action towards your goals.

This may involve reducing your expenses, increasing your income or seeking professional help.

Stay committed to your plan, review your progress regularly and make adjustments as necessary.

If you have a debt, make a plan to pay it off as soon as possible.

Prioritise your debts with the highest interest rates and focus on paying those off first.

Consider consolidating your debts or negotiating with your creditors to reduce your interest rates.

Saving for the future is crucial for achieving your financial goals.

Consider opening a retirement account or investing in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.

Start small and gradually increase your contributions over time.

Financial stress is a common problem that affects many Malaysians.

However, with the right strategies it is possible to cope with financial stress and take control of your finances.

Create a budget, reduce your expenses, increase your income, build an emergency fund, seek professional help and develop a financial plan to achieve your goals.

Remember that managing your finances is a journey and it takes time and effort to make significant progress.

Be patient, stay committed and celebrate your successes along the way.

Dr Praveena Rajendra is a certified mental health and awareness practitioner specialising in narcissistic abuse recovery. Comments:

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