If recent news and market activity have you feeling a little more stressed than usual about your finances, you’re not alone.
According to recent surveys, one-third of Americans say they're more anxious about their personal finances for 2022 than they were in 2021. Another one-third says that they're just as anxious about this year as they were last. That's two-thirds of Americans who feel anxious when they think about money. (Source)
Anxiety over money is also nothing new. When I meet with clients, their worry usually centers around one of the following:
- Will I have enough money to retire?
- Will I outlive my money?
- How will I be able to afford the rising cost of healthcare?
Unfortunately, this type of long-term stress can cause not only mental but physical issues as well. According to Professor of Psychology Linda Gallo, “…stress becomes unhealthy when it is unrelenting, and people do not experience opportunities to recover. So, in these cases stress can lead to physical problems, things like headaches and stomach aches and also mental health issues, such as anxiety, trouble sleeping.
And then over time, the toll of stress on the body accumulates and can contribute to chronic physical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.” (Source)
So, what should we do?
The good news is that alleviating some of this stress is completely within your control. Here’s what I recommend:
Look at your budget.
Yes, I realize that with inflation, the rising cost of gas, and other factors, looking at a budget is the last thing you want to do. But it is one of the most empowering things you can do as well. Look at your needs and your wants. Determine where money can be saved and audit your spending habits.
Investigate your investment options.
Talk to your employer about retirement savings plan options and ask friends and family members if they recommend a financial planner. It might seem counterintuitive to spend money on an advisor when you’re trying to save but working with a financial planner might actually save you money in the long run.
Create a plan.
This is where you, your loved ones, and a financial planner come together. Communicate about where you are financially and how everyone can participate in a spending plan.
"When money triggers anxiety, it can push us into a subconscious state of chaos where our feeling brain overrides the decision-making process. We still think we are making smart decisions when, in fact, we aren't really in control," (Brent) Weiss says. "When we control the trigger, we control the anxiety." (Source)
Developing a solid plan can actually help you deal with the triggers that might have you spending more than you should.
The more you know, the more control you have.
There is a lot of fear and stress in the unknown. I know that having these conversations and sitting down and really looking at your bottom line can be stressful.
But these steps are also the beginning of creating the life you want. Knowing where you can and cannot spend, making wise investment choices, and working with a trusted partner are all part of moving toward a (hopefully) stress-free financial future.