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5 Things You Can Choose to Do Instead of Wallowing

Yesterday I wrote about even in the midst of unfair circumstances, you still usually have some choices available to you other than feeling like a helpless victim

(Feeling like a victim is not super productive, as a general rule).

So, I’m piggybacking on yesterday’s post with a starter list of positive things you can choose to do when you are hit with financial difficulties or are just feeling down about your financial situation in general.

In writing this list, I’m thinking about things like job loss, big bills (medical, home, auto) and also smaller, less traumatic things such as feeling envious of people who have more money.

And my hope is that you guys can add to my list in the comments!

1. Ask yourself, “What can I do?”

This is kind of a foundational question because it gets you out of the victim mentality and helps you focus on what you do have control over.

I’m not discounting the fact that something very unfair or very distressing may have happened to your financial situation, and as I said yesterday, it’s ok to feel upset about that.

But most financial difficulties have not been solved by people who get stuck in a cycle of helpless thoughts like, “Why me?”.

“Why does everyone else earn more money?”

“Why can’t I afford XYZ for my kids like everyone else can?”

“I deserve better than this.”

Even if thoughts like these are true, they’re not ultimately helpful.

2. Get some perspective.

Whether a huge bill has got you down, or you’re just feeling a general sense of unhappiness your financial state, some perspective can be very helpful.

And since we’re not super good at having perspective when we’re down in the dumps, it’s smart to reach out to other people for help.   Encouraging friends can listen to your struggles and also help you get to a mental place where you feel more empowered.

If you don’t have a good in-real-life set of friends, search online for money-related communities where you can share your struggles and get encouragement.

3. Look for a side hustle/part-time job.

Changing your attitude is a great first step, but sometimes, cold hard cash is also super helpful.

When Mr. FG’s company was sold and we got word that his job was going to be eliminated, I upped my side-hustle efforts by doing things like babysitting, piano gigs, and photography.

If you can’t come up with a side hustle or additional job, could you ask for a raise at work? This is not always advisable or possible, but it’s worth considering since often people (especially women) don’t ask for what they deserve at work.

4. Check your spending.

I know from experience that sometimes, there really is nothing left to cut back on, and if that’s where you are, I feel you! Hang in there, and ignore this advice.

For most people in developed countries, though, there are at least a few expenses which could be trimmed when push comes to shove.

You could eliminate a bill (no more eating out for now), or you could find cheaper alternatives (switch your cell phone plan, do Redbox instead of the theater, switch car insurance companies).

5. Find some cheap/free things that will lift your spirits.

I could fill a whole post with ideas in this category, so…that’s what I did! You can read 15 Free/Cheap Ideas to Make You Feel Happier right here.   And readers added lots of great ideas in the comments, so don’t miss those.


I noticed that all of the things in the above list fall into two basic categories:

  • Changing your circumstances
  • Changing your attitude/mindset

So, I’d love to hear from you:

What practices help you to either change your circumstances or your mindset when you feel down about your finances?

P.S.  In case you were thinking something crazy like, “Wow, Kristen has gotten really good at growing flowers based on the photos in the last two posts.”…they’re not mine. They’re the flowers around my parents pool and my dad has grown them. 😉   My only contribution was taking photos of ’em.

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Saturday 15th of September 2018

Timely posts for me too Kristen, thank you. I tend to stress out & cry out to God. Lately I have been on a roller coaster & at times when I've been down I've been reminded to look around me & I've noticed many blessings & I've just started to remember He IS faithful

Jen D.

Thursday 13th of September 2018

I love the movement I've seen for experiential "gifts." We live in a world where accumulated things is not making us happy. Spending time doing meaningful things (that can also be free/inexpensive) are FAR more lovely and lasting in all the important areas. If you need to unwrap something, coupons for special days or experiences can be made and wrapped. One of my favorite songs (the whole album is pretty awesome actually) is Rend Collective's True North: "I will not let the darkness steal the joy within my soul I will not let my circumstance become my compass, no I will not let the fears of life and sorrows of this world Dictate to me how I should feel For You are my true north"

Laurie Joslin

Thursday 13th of September 2018

I take advantage of the many free and interesting programs at the local public library. There are lectures, movies, living history programs - all for free. Right now, I'm on my way to the library to attend an introduction to Tau Chi. So I'll be moving my body as well as listening to an expert in the field.


Thursday 13th of September 2018

I use the list of free things to do to get out funk quite often! I'd love to see your list and I'll share mine when that comes up here. Great post today!

Kristyna Wooster

Thursday 13th of September 2018

I think when feeling down about finances I think one of the best things to do to get my spirits up is to be generous. Obviously, if money is super tight this may not be a monetary generosity. However, there are plenty of ways to be generous with your time, money and stuff. (I'm currently trying to finish off a post about creating a sharing culture, so that ties in nicely)

Somehow giving when I feel like I should be the one getting changes my mindset and brightens my day.

Another thing I like to do is take a look back and see how far we've come. We're not in debt! Our mortgage is almost paid off! It's encouraging to see that we have changed and even if we feel stagnant or in a financial crisis, we can see the success of the past and that we're so far from where we once were years ago.

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