8 Ways to Build Your Financial Self Esteem

If you're struggling to make ends meet, or are crushed by debt, it's not a great feeling. It's easy to feel despondent when you can't seem to get ahead financially. But don't get discouraged! If you make the right choices, things will come together for you and your money. There are many small things you can do to make yourself feel better about your financial situation.

Try a few of these ways to give your financial self esteem a boost. Positive things will snowball from there.

1. Pay off one credit card

You may be battling a giant monster of debt from credit cards, student loans, auto loans, and more. And you probably feel pretty cruddy about it all. But you can give yourself a little psychological boost by targeting one credit card and working to get that balance down to zero.

Even if you pay off a credit card with a relatively low balance, it will make that debt pile seem a little less overwhelming. From a money-saving standpoint, it makes more sense to pay off the credit cards with the highest interest rates first. But those cards may have higher balances and take longer to pay down. Prioritizing paying off small-balance cards in full, otherwise known as the snowball method, gives you valuable momentum that encourages you to keep chipping away at other debts.

Once you pay off that first credit card, stick it in a drawer and say, "I'm done with you!" You'll feel great and will be eager to tackle the next one. (See also: 6 Secrets to Mastering the Debt Snowball)

2. Buy some shares of stock and wait a few months

This one won't give you an immediate self esteem boost, but it will make you feel awesome if you are patient. Select a popular stock or common index fund and buy a few shares. The size of the investment does not matter here. A few hundred dollars invested will suffice. Leave the investments alone for about three months and check the price. In most cases, you will find that the investments have risen in value since you bought them. Congratulations! You just made money as an investor and you hardly had to do anything.

Of course, this strategy can backfire if the market takes a dive, but if that happens, just hang in there and wait a few more months. You will be rewarded for your patience and will feel a lot better about your finances. And who knows? You may fall in love with investing and start on the path to making a ton of money in the markets. (See also: 9 Ways to Tell If a Stock is Worth Buying)

3. Recognize that everyone has money troubles

I am not a big fan of schadenfreude — that is, the act of getting joy from the suffering of others — but you can feel a little bit better about your own financial problems when you realize that few people are free of money stress. Household debt is practically ubiquitous. Student loan debt is common. And no one feels like they have enough saved for retirement.

I'm not suggesting you should feel comfortable with your bad finances, but there's no reason to beat yourself up too hard. If you have a plan to reduce debt, build your credit score, and boost your net worth over time, keep plugging away. You'll get there, and are probably doing better than you think. (See also: 4 Money Lessons You Can Learn From the Joneses)

4. Score some extra income

You may be stuck in a job that doesn't pay great and you feel like you are struggling to make ends meet. You've cut expenses, but things still don't add up. This is where you need to find creative ways to make extra money.

There are a variety of ways to make a few extra bucks on the side that can help add to your bottom line while also potentially opening up new opportunities. It may be a freelance writing project, some homemade jewelry to sell on Etsy, or even just an occasional pet sitting gig. Even a small extra paycheck — especially if it's from work you enjoy doing — can lift your spirits and make you feel a little more in control of your financial situation. (See also: 14 Best Side Jobs For Fast Cash)

5. Walk right past your temptations

When I used to work in the city, I would pass a coffee shop on the way to my office. And I would frequently stop in for an overpriced Americano. I knew it was a waste of money — we had free coffee at my office! — but it was a habit. One day, I decided to challenge myself to keep on walking. I looked straight into the window of the coffee shop, but did not go in. I missed the caffeine pick-me-up, but also knew that I just saved myself $3.50. Over time, that $3.50 a day turned into hundreds of dollars saved. And I got an ego boost from staring temptation in the face and walking on.

Successfully resisting temptation is hard, but it can feel so good over time, especially when you know you're giving yourself a financial boost. (See also: 7 Effortless Ways to Prevent Budget-Busting Impulse Buys)

6. Give some money away

This may seem counterintuitive. How can you give away money if you are struggling financially yourself? But donating money to a cause will make you feel better about yourself in general. It's also likely that the amount you give will make a big difference to the recipient and won't ultimately impact your own finances too much in the long run.

This is not to say you should give away money carelessly, or constantly bail out friends or relatives. You still need to take care of you. But an occasional small donation can be great for the world and give you a little charge of self esteem. (See also: 5 Ways Giving to Charity Is Good for You)

7. Get a better deal

Searching for bargains can be exhausting, but it can feel rewarding when you score a big one. It's a nice feeling to get $200 knocked off the price of a new refrigerator. You feel awesome when you find a gallon of milk for $1.19. And buy one, get two free on boxes of cereal? Score!

If you can find a way to make searching for sales fun, you'll feel great when you succeed, and will feel even better knowing that your finances benefit as a result. There is one word of caution though, which is to remember that you're not really saving money if you're spending it on items you wouldn't otherwise be buying. So focus your bargain hunting on things you need. (See also: These Apps and Extensions Find Online Deals for You — Automatically)

8. Improve your credit score, even a little

Your credit score has an enormous impact on your finances, as it dictates how much you can borrow and at what interest rate. If you have a bad credit rating, you may feel like you're in a terrible spiral. Your credit rating is bad because of your finances, but you're having trouble improving your finances because of your credit rating.

If you can stay focused on improving that credit rating, it will pay off. Focus hard on paying bills on time, every time. Reduce your overall debt load and don't use too much of your available credit. It will take time, but eventually you will see your credit rating creep up. Start by celebrating a 10-point increase. Throw a party when you get up above 600, and again when you're at 700. Every increase in credit rating should lift your spirits and motivate you to keep going. (See also: 7 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score Quickly)

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