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Money & Stress

Walk down the street and ask 10 people what the biggest stress factor in their life is and how many do you think will say “money”?  The exact statistics vary depending on the study, but no matter who you ask, the overwhelming majority of people identify money as their top stressor.  The problem is that all this stress is bad for your health and keeps you from enjoying the true pleasures of life.  The good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take to relieve the underlying causes of the stress.   By taking a step back and putting yourself back into a position where you control your money rather than it controlling you, it’s possible to move past the negative thoughts and get back to enjoying your life.


  1. Communicate with your partner

You are in this together.  Regardless of how you slice and dice financial responsibilities in your relationship, you are both affected by the decisions the other makes.  In addition, simply talking through a situation with a trusted partner can often take out a lot of the sting.

  1. Take a look at your budget

That dreaded “B” word.  A budget doesn’t have to be a strict accounting of every penny (unless that is what works for you) but you should be keeping track of where your money is going in general.  There are plenty of free apps that can be linked to bank accounts, credit cards, etc. that help you quickly categorize spending and see where the money went at the end of the day.  Ask yourself the big question - Are you spending your money on the things you value, or have you gotten into a habit of mindless spending on things you don’t care about?  Knowing what is coming in and where it is going out to can give you a sense of control.

  1. Create a plan

If your dollars aren’t currently in alignment with your goals, it’s time to create or revise your plan.  Change doesn’t have to happen all at once; in most cases it shouldn’t, because sudden massive change is hard to stick to, but small consistent steps over time to bring your spending and saving in alignment with your goals is key to long-term change.

  1. Focus on the positive

Be proud of yourself for the good things you’ve done and congratulate yourself on taking steps in the direction you’ve chosen to go.  If you focus on the good things, it makes it easier to keep doing more good things.

  1. Forgive yourself for not being perfect

Guess what? You aren’t perfect; neither is anyone else.  We all mess up, we’ve all made mistakes and as long as we keep growing and learning, we’ll continue to make mistakes.  Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect and congratulate yourself on learning and growing.

  1. Create an emergency fund

One of the most important steps you can take to relieve financial stress is the creation of an emergency fund.  Knowing that there is a supply of money there for the “what if’s” creates a level of security and assurance to know you’ve got it covered.  While an emergency fund is not intended to be sufficient to cover every possible scenario, knowing that you have 3 – 6 months of cushion can make a world of difference.  The easiest way to build it is to just get started.  Take a look at your budget and identify a reasonable amount that you can set aside into its own account the next time you get paid.  This may mean a few less lattes, one less meal out, or washing your car at home instead of paying for it to be detailed; but in the end, that bit extra each month will add up to security moving forward.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others

Has comparing yourself to others ever been a good thing?  So why do we keep doing it?  We all know we tend to present our best self out into the world; no one is posting Instagram pictures of themselves trying to scrape together the last $100 they need to pay the electric bill this month.  Just because someone else appears to have it all together doesn’t mean they do.  We have no idea what is happening behind the scenes.  I remember years ago meeting a woman who seemed to have it all – drove a nice car, dressed in designer clothes, perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect nails, and her kids were all adorable; I was so jealous because she clearly had it all together.  I later found out that her marriage was failing and they were hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.  I didn’t want her life anymore, but I sure thought I did when we first met.  The only good comparison is to compare where you are now to where you were --- are you taking steps in the right direction?

  1. Consider the worst-case scenario

Sometimes we fear the unknown so much, simply because it is such an unknown.  Give yourself a minute and think through the worst-case scenario that your mind is creating.  Really consider it, what has happened, what does it look like now.  Don’t get stuck, mired in the mess; now think through the plan to get out of that situation.  Suddenly the worst-case scenario loses some of its bite.  Now that you’ve figured a way out of the worst, move on; the odds of that happening are slim and you have the ability to find a solution. 

  1. Educate yourself

Again, nothing is scarier than the unknown.  If you feel you need to invest but don’t know where to start or wonder if you need life insurance but don’t know who to ask, there are plenty of ways to educate yourself.  There are a number of authors whose books provide a great overview of finances and investing, you can take a course through your local community college or an on-line course program such as Coursera, or talk to a trusted financial advisor or two.  This is a case when knowledge truly is power.



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