Are You Stressed About Money?
Struggling under the weight of financial stress can start to feel overwhelming. Will you have enough to retired? Do you have to work into your 80’s just to afford a comfortable lifestyle in retirement?
This mindset is all too common. But does money have to be such a burden?
No! You can find ways to relieve yourself of financial stress without actually changing your bank balance. Having more money isn’t the only answer to ease your worries – there are plenty of other ways to regain balance and peace, no matter what your bank account looks like.
Information Can Be a Stress Reliever
Often, money anxiety is intensified simply by a lack of solid information. Not knowing exactly what you’re dealing with can trigger those nighttime panics. “It’s shocking how many people have no clue how much their 401(k) can yield for how long,” says Klontz.
As simplistic as it may sound, experts say your stress will diminish once you estimate how much money you have for retirement and how much you’ll need. You may be pleasantly surprised and find out you’re in better shape than you think. If you need help with this task, consult a financial adviser.
Don’t let yourself get tied up in knots about your ability to retire at 65. That retirement age is, in many ways, antiquated anyway — a number first used when life spans were 25 years shorter than they are today.
When Money Is a Smokescreen
Sometimes, stress over money isn’t about money at all. Aging, health, relationships and a fear of not being valued anymore are powerful feelings that may hide behind a smokescreen of financial anxiety.
“Money is a convenient place to park anxiety,” notes Gresham, who says even people with huge financial resources worry about money. “Anxiety about money is a state of mind. If you live next door to someone who is quite a bit wealthier than you, you’re likely going to be less happy.”
Simple techniques like meditation and “living in the present” can alleviate stress, too. So can finding support from your loved ones.
In fact, the APA’s report found that Americans who said they have someone they can ask for emotional support, such as family and friends, report lower stress levels than those without emotional support.
So, the next time you’re worried about money, call a good friend and vent. It won’t add dollars to your 401(k), but it may provide a sense of emotional connection that can be extremely fulfilling.
– via Next Avenue
How You Think About Money Makes A Difference
While actions speak louder than words, it’s still important to remember that your words matter – a lot.
How you think about and talk about finances will make an enormous difference for how you interact with money.
The more defeatist and depressed your thinking, the less hopeful your actions will be. So conquering the negative thought patterns will give you a huge leg up on reaching your goals and truly feeling free from financial stress.
All Jammed Up: Narrow Your Choices
At a swanky sundries shop in Menlo Park, a team of researchers led by Sheena Iyengar set up a simple experiment that has become legend among psychologists, pundits, economists and business leaders. They displayed a selection of high-quality jams on a table. On one table, they offered six flavors for sampling. On another, they offered 24. Though shoppers flocked to the table loaded with 24 jam flavors, they were 10 times more likely to actually purchase the jam from the table with fewer available options.
It’s all too easy to allow fear of making a bad choice keep you from making any choice at all. Maybe you have a finite amount of money to invest, or you’re stressing about making a big purchase, or you can’t make up your mind which is more important — college savings for the kids or retirement savings for you. If you find yourself at your desk with your hair in knots, Suze Orman’s white teeth blinking at you from your computer screen and the most recent issue of Money Magazine crumpled in your hands, remember this: You don’t have to make the “right” choice. You don’t have to make the “final” choice. You simply have to make a choice, the choice to act.
Ditch Your Defeatist Attitude
If fear of making the “wrong” choices about your finances has left you mired in indecision, imagine how people who think they have no choice at all must feel. John Caskey, an economics professor at Swarthmore College, interviewed residents in two of America’s poorest communities. “They instead talked about the stress,” he said. “In many cases, people didn’t save not because they actually couldn’t, but because they believed they couldn’t”.
When you’re late on the rent and can’t keep the utilities on, the idea of opening a savings account may seem as far-fetched as a picnic on the moon; but the truth is that all of us, even the poorest, have financial choices. Finding those choices may feel impossible: the second you get ahead, you’re defeated by relatives needing loans, kids wanting designer sneakers, downsizing, layoffs, unexpected medical expenses and a myriad of other obstacles.
The trick to ditching your defeatist attitude is finding a way to believe that somehow, even in the most untenable of circumstances, there is hope. Organizations like America Saves exist to help you find that hope. Simple things like making a gratitude list or visualizing yourself free of financial stress can also help you feel more hopeful.
Now that you’re feeling decisive and undefeatable, you’re almost ready to receive practical strategies for lowering financial stress. But first, let’s discuss how to overcome another mental obstacle to lowering financial stress: your life partner.
Stop Rowing in Circles
When it comes to finances, picture each household as a boat. If you’re on your own, you’ll need to pull your own weight to get to where you want to go. If you have a family to support, your journey can be easier or much, much harder depending on whether or not your oarsmen are rowing together.
Take hypothetical couple Tanya and Terrance as an example. Terrance, a notorious spendthrift, studies advertising circulars and berates Tanya for paying $.50 more than necessary for soap. “But I would have had to go to two stores to get that discount!” Tanya protests, frustrated.
Even in relationships where couples are basically on the same financial page, differences in priorities (she wants to send the kids to private school; her partner wants to save for college) can set the boat spinning in circles. To move the boat forward, the partners must learn to communicate and row together.
Terrance and Tanya swapped lists of financial priorities, putting check marks next to items they agreed upon and question marks next to items for compromise. They both agreed that retirement savings was key, while Tanya acknowledged areas where she could cut costs and Terrance agreed that an annual vacation was worth the expense. Pretty soon, their little boat was moving swiftly toward a unified financial future, and they were ready to make a budget they could both live with.
– via HowStuffWorks
How do you handle financial stress? Are you ready to get it under control once and for all?