4 Ways Your Lifestyle is Causing Money Problems (and How to Solve Them)

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Most people don’t like to admit they are struggling with money problems.

Call it pride or whatever you would like, people hate to concede they are bad stewards of their money. Worse yet, even fewer seek help until it is too late. All because money shame is a real thing.

Now, if any of you have been there, you know the feeling. It’s that awful pit in your stomach type feeling you get when you know you just made a bad financial decision, but you are stuck with the consequences.

You swear to yourself you will not make a similarly bad decision again, only to repeat it just a few months later. The blame game starts and you try to explain away your money problems as if the “system” is against you. And while that may be true, there are more than likely a few lifestyle choices on your end of things that are holding you back, financially speaking.

For a minute, assume that you are entirely to blame for your own financial problems. Are there spots you could improve? Most likely there are.

Sometimes the needed changes are obvious. Other times, poor financial choices are part of one’s personality.

Acknowledging Problems is the First Step 

Consider the four leaky lifestyle choices (that you can control), how they impact your spending decisions, and how you can score easy wins when it comes to common causes of your money problems.

1. Binge spending

You might hear about these mythical people smart enough to save, throughout the entire year, for the holiday gift-buying, budget-blowing bonanza that is Christmas.

And every year you probably think, “hey! I should do that,”  but never really get around to doing it.

Instead, you end up spending a ton of money, in a really short amount of time, without really having planned for it. Christmas, a big vacation, or an unexpected car repair will eventually happen that you probably haven’t saved for. 

Fixing this problem is ultra-simple. Get serious about regularly putting aside money each month during the first 11 months of the year. Think of each monthly deposit as an immediate victory, as opposed to a bigger, delayed victory when you’re working overtime to put away extra money and you finally get a single big paycheck. By doing this, you’re actually playing into a natural cognitive bias known as hyperbolic bias.

It works like this: the sustained satisfaction of saving consistently, and visualizing your progress, trumps larger but delayed payouts. In other words, take a moment each month to revel in the glory of your savings.

2. Lack of sleep

Before we talk about working out as a way to stop worrying about money, consider how sleep can have its own bevy of benefits.

Science shows that a lack of sleep links to obesity, lifespan/longevity, bad memory, poor concentration, mood swings, heart disease, diabetes, and more. Cognitively speaking, when you don’t get enough sleep, you have fewer resources available to process stressors.

The opposite is true when adults are well-rested.

When you get adequate sleep:

  • Emotion regulation is stronger
  • Self-control is better
  • Working memory is sharper

Taken together, that means more sleep equips you to cope with stress and worry in a healthy way.

Put differently, do you ever think you might literally keel over from stress (about money or otherwise)?

In the midst of her booming career, Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, fell and hit her head on a desk because she was so deliriously sleep-deprived, stressed, and overworked. It took a come-to-Jesus moment for her to realize she needed to make time for her own well-being.

Even though her major stressor wasn’t primarily money, the principle still translates. If you take better care of yourself, you are more equipped to shut down unfruitful worry in your life.

Related: 74 Creative Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

3. Lack of exercise

Besides the lower back pain associated with those extra pounds, your lack of exercise hurts you in another place, your wallet.

Sedentary lifestyles directly correlate to increased incidences of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. To add insult to injury, all three appear on a list of the top 10 most expensive reasons for hospital admission. At more than $15,000 per hospital visit, having a once in a lifetime battle (negating future re-admissions) with these conditions is enough to completely ruin many people financially.

Putting resolution trends aside, the psychological, social, and physical perks of routine exercise abound.

Stressed out about a bill? Go for a run. Unsure of what to do after draining your life savings on an unexpected expense? Queue up that YouTube hit video. There is no right or wrong answer here. Just being active releases endorphins, elevates mood, and provides focus.

To let go of money-related stress through exercise, the key is to prioritize time to do something you enjoy and do it regularly.

Furthermore, getting in 30-60 minutes of cardio several times a week doesn’t have to be a big financial investment. There are plenty of affordable ways to work out that don’t break the bank.

Budget-friendly workout ideas:

  • Get paid to lose weight with HealthyWage
  • YouTube has quality workout videos for all types of exercise
  • Walking your dog is a classic way to get in 45 minutes
  • Doing a circuit from a Pinterest printable in your living room is free
  • iTunes has free guided workouts
  • These five home exercise programs under $25
  • Gym trial memberships are often discounted or free this time of year
  • Ask friends for “buddy passes” at their gym to test drive classes
  • Get in 30 minutes of steps in place at your desk + 2,000 more on an afternoon walk around the office
  • Strength training with your baby
  • Inquire about membership discounts for assistant teaching (my yoga studio offers a free unlimited membership perk)

4. The wrong mindset

One of the worst things you can do when you find yourself swimming in money problems is to ignore them altogether.

And yet that’s what most people do. Talk about counterintuitive. Instead of ignoring your money problems, bring them to the forefront of your mind. Visualize the exact steps you’re going to take and then make them happen.

One way to achieve just that is through meditation. The benefits of meditation are similar to those from sleep and exercise. Focus, attention, stress management, and increased compassion are a few of the benefits associated with this ancient-turned-fashionable practice.

Your Money Problems Probably Won’t Disappear Overnight

When beginning, start small. Sleeping, exercising, meditating, and pre-saving for large expenses are a few ways you can reduce your worry about money.

Choose one item on the list and get started with it today.

Addressing just one thing will boost your confidence, and have you feeling more ready to tackle anything that comes your way, even when you are financially struggling.

Annette Miller

Newlywed coach with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology + specialization in financial wellness for millennial couples. Boilermaker, former Air BnB Superhost, clumsy yogi, tech lover, aspiring whiskey snob, and Heath bar addict. Currently living in Bourbonland, USA (aka Louisville, KY) and tweeting @millerannette.

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