The Bottom Line: You can “buy the dream” but don’t waste your time dreaming when you can apply some real strategies that will actually work and alleviate your stress.
Money is the biggest source of stress for most of us to the point where a recent survey found that 44% put financial stress first, followed by 25% who said personal relationships, and 18% blamed work.
And money stress affects just about every aspect of our lives – personal, family, social and work.
An amazing 69% of workers were stressed over their finances and they worry about it when they are on the job, which makes for unsafe workplaces and unproductive days and weeks. Obviously, some financial counselling in the workplace would go a long way to increasing productivity and profitably.
To highlight the personal financial crisis, credit card debt hit a record high this year at more than $1 trillion, student loan debt has jumped 150% over the past 10 years, and 25% of us don’t have any money saved for an emergency. And retirement is just a pipe dream for many of us.
In addition, poor financial health leads to poor physical health. People who worry about their finances tend to eat poorly, don’t get regular physical exercise, often skip physical checkups and avoid other costs associated with preventative health measures. The stress can also play a large part in depression and anxiety, headaches, sleep problems, digestive problems, ulcers, high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Those are the stats, which are fine for your awareness of issues, but this website is all about solutions. As it turns out, you can actually put an end to your financial stress, or at least diminish it. As with anything worthwhile in life, it takes some effort and, in some cases, significant cognitive restructuring (viewing things differently). I’ll deal with cognitive restructuring exclusively in another article but for now here are a couple of resources.
One of the best information sources that I have come across recently is entitled End Financial Stress Now, Immediate Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Financial Outlook, by Emily Guy Birken.
Birken shares practical, step-by-step instructions on budgeting that helps you track expenses, pay off debt, and save money. She provides straightforward advice on how to increase self-discipline so you can stick to your budget, as well as techniques to help you identify misinformation and false beliefs you have about money. The end result, hopefully, is a fulfilling life free of financial stress.
Another solid source is The Financial Anxiety Solution: A Step-by-Step Workbook to Stop Worrying about Money, Take Control of Your Finances, and Live a Happier Life, by Lindsay Bryan-Podvin. This book shows you how to conquer money-related stress and take control of your financial life. Contents include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques for developing anxiety coping skills
- Interactive quizzes to help identify “pain points” of stress
- Journal prompts to help work through money-related thoughts and feelings
- Mindfulness exercises to help calm a worried mind
- Popular money-management techniques that can help turn the page on financial anxiety
These books should be available through your local bookstore or, if more convenient, through an online source. The author names above are linked to online stores.
Regardless of what the financial ‘cure’ is, whatever you do will take effort and perseverance. There is no overnight quick-fix unless you beat the 1:35,000,000 odds and win the lottery. This won’t happen. You can “buy the dream” but don’t waste your time dreaming when you can apply some real strategies that will actually work and alleviate your stress.