Four Ways to Overcome Overwhelming Debts

In general, millennials likely feel more overwhelmed than older generations because they have a lot of student loan debt and had a rough go on the job market right around when they were hunting for their first jobs, explains Anna Rappaport, the chair of the Society of Actuaries Aging and Retirement Strategic Research Program.

And millennial women feel more overwhelmed than millennial men likely for a number of reasons, including that they are more likely to be caregivers than men (which can put a financial strain on them and curb earnings), they earn less than men, and they’ve likely seen their older female relatives struggle more in retirement (women live longer than men and they often have saved less), Rappaport adds.

Acknowledge your money issue 

That’s step one, says Bobbi Rebell, a certified financial planner and the host of the Financial Grownup podcast. “Money is just a math problem and a simple one at that,” says Hockenbury. Can’t figure out how to fix it on your own? There are plenty of people who can help that are just a phone call away. Kimberly Foss, president and founder of Empyrion Wealth Management, recommends trying out WiseUp, which is a “free online course [that] includes eight components with topics ranging from money basics to credit, savings, and investing.” Plus, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling can help if you feel overwhelmed by debt; Garrett Financial Planning network offers certified financial planners who you can work with on an hourly basis, and you can find other resources here. 

Spend the day being mindful of your spending 

“Don’t blindly swipe a card getting a latte, instead think, ‘the latte was $5.23.’ Don’t beat yourself up, don’t think, ‘why did I just spend $5 on warm milk,’ just try to be agnostic. But, do this with every purchase,” Hockenbury says. Try this for a day, and then another day and then another — until it becomes a habit. This will keep you mindful about what you really want to buy — and what you don’t.

Create a budget this afternoon 

With all the online budgeting tools that automatically link to your bank accounts and credit cards, it’s simple to create a budget in an afternoon. Here’s how to do it in six steps on Mint.com, and there are also simple sites like Pocket Guard and You Need a Budget that can help.

Can’t pay all your bills? Pay these first

If you’re overwhelmed and can’t pay all your bills, it’s time to prioritize. Tackle the things that are essential to your life first: basic food, a roof over your head, a car if you need that to get to work, etc. This resource can help you figure out how to handle this.