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Financial burnout is when the stress of managing money causes you to withdraw mentally or emotionally from managing your finances—and it's not pretty.
Sometimes, it's that sense of overwhelm you get when you have too many bills to pay and too much you need to portion out. Or you check out mentally because, how exactly are you supposed to stick to a budget when grocery, gas and other prices are soaring? Other times, it's simply a matter of feeling like you're on autopilot with your finances. But financial burnout isn't just a state of mind: It can affect your bottom line far more than you might like.
Fret not: We've outlined the best ways to recognize and stop financial burnout in its tracks. After all, you work far too hard for your money to sacrifice progress to burnout.
Signs of Financial Burnout
Financial burnout refers to a general despondency when it comes to money management. You're sick and tired of the numbers and you're sick and tired of being sick and tired. No one told us when we were kids how much actually goes into budgeting, bills and bank balances, anyway.
The first step to combating financial burnout is simple: recognizing it. Once you see the symptoms of your money management malaise, you can take simple steps to put it behind you—and even come out financially stronger for it. Look out for these signs of financial burnout, including:
- You're not saving money. Your emergency fund has dwindled and you're just waiting between paydays to take care of bills and necessities.
- You tossed out your budget. Even though you know, logically, you should stick to your budget (or that you need to start one), it feels like a drain on your precious energy.
- You ignore your apps. Listen, we know you've probably downloaded a dozen finance apps, and no one expects you to use them all. However, if you used to use a dedicated app and you're now pretending it doesn't exist, take note.
- You shrug off subscriptions. Especially without a budget in mind, it can feel all too easy to let those small-ish, automatic monthly charges go by unchecked, even though you haven't used your gym membership or opened that streaming service in ages.
- Your credit card has become a crutch. Credit can be great, but swiping for a majority of your expenses can mean you're not focusing on spending only what you can afford—not to mention ignoring the steep annual percentage rates (APR) that come along with most credit cards. If you're spending on a card without paying your balances to avoid incurring interest, financial burnout may be to blame.
- Thinking about money makes you anxious. We can all feel some degree of unease with both big and small financial decisions, but if the idea of checking your bank account or confronting your bills makes you shudder or lose sleep, burnout may be to blame.
- You're skipping payments. Paying your bills on time is the most important factor making up your credit score, and burnout can consume you to the point of letting your bills go by with numbness.
Financial burnout is often borne by simply feeling overwhelmed. There is an enormous amount of information with conflicting ideas on what you should be doing, and it can be wildly difficult to sort the bad advice from the good. Plus, just plain old stress can bring on financial burnout.
How Financial Burnout Impacts Your Money
Recognizing the signs of financial burnout is important, but you should also understand how the effects can touch on different aspects of your life—especially your bottom line. Some financial repercussions of financial burnout include:
- Neglecting your savings: Sticking to your savings goals, both long- and short-term, can ensure your financial future. A healthy emergency fund means you don't have to dip into other cash or credit to pay for the unexpected; setting aside cash for the long run keeps your future finances safe and growing. Financial burnout can cause you to put saving in the backseat, leaving you vulnerable and even living paycheck to paycheck.
- Mistreating your credit score: Overusing your credit or missing bills can cause serious damage to your credit score. Future lenders will look at dips in your score as a fair reason to charge you higher interest rates or not lend to you at all, jeopardizing future opportunities like mortgages, loans and credit cards.
- Accumulating too much debt. Not all debt is bad to have, but balances you can't pay off now—and can't foresee paying off soon—can incur more and more in interest charges. When you get into a hole with debt, it can feel scary and hopeless trying to dig yourself out.
How to Beat Financial Burnout
Now that you're an expert in what's happening with your burnout and how it affects your finances, take three steps to beat burnout:
1. Automate Your Money
Set everything up to make your day-to-day money management as seamless as possible. First, start a budget (we recommend trying out some budget apps like You Need a Budget, PocketGuard and Mint to get things on autopilot). Once you assess your cash flow, start a payday routine in which your income automatically portions out into separate spending categories:
- Debt repayment
- Emergency fund
- Long-term savings
- Necessities (like gas and groceries)
- Personal and optional spending
2. Hone in on Your Financial Health
After you automate your money, you should have a better idea of what you can afford to portion out for various goals and expenses. From there, focus on remedying any of those negative burnout effects.
Start by checking your credit score, and implementing a plan or two to repair or maintain your score. This may include additional debt repayment strategies or cutting spending for a while. In general, you want to take the energy you save from automating your money management and put it into building up long-term, sustainable financial stability.
3. Reach Out
If you've tried but still feel like you're failing to beat financial burnout, remember you're not alone. Reach out to trusted friends, family and financial professionals. Feeling burnt out with your financial situation can be lonely, but you don't have to deal with it alone; so, gather your resources to tackle your burnout.
The Bottom Line
Stress can be an obstacle enough when it comes to money, but you can use some of it to push you to reach your financial goals. When you reach burnout, however, motivation gives way to apathy. You lack the will to conquer your financial burnout and can ultimately feel hopeless. Keep a close eye on your mental money state and implement strategies to combat burnout as soon as you notice that pressure turning into apathy.