How to Manage Stress Over Monetary Issues

In this article will discuss how poor decision-making affects our stress levels and how stress in return affects decision-making. Finally, we will discuss how to handle long-term worries and how to stop worrying about things we have no control over.

Overcoming Monetary Stress
Worrying about your finances is a major stressor today. The struggle to be financially secure is something the majority of us face regularly. But not having enough cash is only one aspect of stress. There are several others, including:
  • How money is used. Some folks, especially couples, may have a conflict because one person likes to spend and the other likes to save. This could be a major stress factor in life at home.
  • Earning more money. Stress related to earning or making more money could be another major stress factor, because of the long hours or multiple jobs one has to do to get the extra money.
  • Having money. People who have money are stressed too, due to poor investments or instability in the stock market or simply worrying about the uncertain future (stock market crashes or real estate slumps). In short, people with money tend to stress over losing their money.

Just not having enough money can result in further worries like how do you give your children a good education, take care of medical expenses, take care of an older relative, etc. So when we worry about money, we are not just worrying about money itself, but also the consequences of not having any money or the consequences of losing it all in the case of those who have money.

How to Manage Money Effectively
Effective Spending - Your basic needs at one time were Food, Clothing and Shelter. However, due to the commercialized world we live in, these basic needs have taken a whole new dimension. Food could mean home-cooked food, fast food, restaurant food, etc. Clothing could mean anything from high-end brand names to clothes bought at the flea market. Shelter could mean anything from a twenty bedroom estate home to a simple apartment.

Our need for spending changes with our lifestyle but the basic principles of money management should stay the same:

Live within your means – This is really a difficult rule to follow in our world of credit cards. However, you need to discipline yourself to acknowledge you cannot afford something when it is beyond your means. Have a budget, list your income and expenses, and don't spend more than what you have.

Invest in yourself – Always pay yourself first. Put aside whatever money you can so you can invest it. Live frugally using the resources you have at hand so you can invest more lavishly.

Avoid Credit Card Debt – This is the worst kind of debt you can get yourself into. If you must use credit cards, follow these guidelines:

  • Pay off the balance fully each month.
  • If you carry a balance on credit cards, pay down the one's that have the highest rate first.
  • If you are paying a higher rate, and want to reduce the interest rate, talk to your credit card company and ask them to give you a better rate. If your credit is good, they may reduce your rate or give you a card with a lower interest rate.
  • If you have a significant credit card balance, try to consolidate this into a low interest loan. For example: You could use the equity in your home to get a line of credit at a lower interest rate to pay off the high interest credit card. However, this does not give you license to run-up your credit cards again!
  • If you are in serious debt, consider using a professional credit counseling service that can help sort out your financial situation. Do not procrastinate; this will only get you into deeper debt.

Seek out experts – Whether you are investing, getting credit counseling or getting into an area you know nothing about, be sure you get the right experts. Get recommendations from people who know them and vouch for them before you begin to use their services. Check with your local chamber of commerce or BBB for more information.

Borrow wisely – Borrow to spend on things that appreciate in value. For example: property, investments or anything that will appreciate in value and that can also be a tax write-off. Do not borrow to spend on things that depreciate – cars, clothes, expensive vacations, etc.

Avoiding Buyer's Remorse – Buyer's remorse happens when you make a major decision either purchasing something or taking an expensive trip for which you later have regrets which can turn into anxiety and stress.

Some of the ways to avoid buyer's remorse is to:

  • Be informed about what you are going to purchase before making a major purchase. The internet is a valuable resource for finding items and comparing prices. Ask friends who have purchased similar items.
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  • Find out about the return policy, so you can always get your money back if you have second thoughts or the item does not satisfy your needs.
  • Once you have purchased an item, be confident that you made the right choice.
  • Enjoy the item for what it is worth. After all, you must live with the decisions you make.

Good Decision Making
This section is a spin off from the last one. Here we will discuss how to make good decisions while under stress and if we make good decisions, we can avoid stress similar to buyer's remorse.

Some of us can make good decisions on certain things, while we falter on others. When we are under stress, our stress reaction stops us from making good decisions. For example:

  • We lose our concentration with stress and tend to focus on the noise around us, rather than the decision we are trying to make.
  • We become preoccupied with the problem, and fail to think of new ways to solve it.
  • We begin negative "self-talk" which reduces our self-esteem and confidence and we are not able to think logically.
  • We lose our creativity and our inability to look at the big picture and find creative solutions.
Evaluate Positives and Negatives – Review the good and bad for any decision you make as objectively as possible. Weigh them and choose appropriately. Sometimes the solutions you come up with may not be the best, but it does help to see the issue more clearly. When you make the final decision, you are confident, you have thought of all of the pros and cons of the situation.

Best and Worst Case scenarios – Once you are aware of the best and worst case scenarios, it is easy to make a decision.

Don't try to be perfect – Sometimes we cannot find a perfect solution. In these situations, pick the one that has the least impact on you.
Type of Worry
There are people who worry about everything in life from things in the short-term to things that may never happen.

They worry about their jobs, their children, their futures. However, if their worries prompt them to effectively solve their problems, then this type of worry is healthy.

For example: Susan worked for a company that got rid of several hundred people. Many of the staff left behind began to worry about their own jobs. Susan found her workload reduced and began to worry about her future.

She spoke to senior management about her position in the company but got no reassurances. She then proactively began to look for work and left the company for a better position within a couple of weeks. Many others followed her. This is an example of a healthy worry where someone takes positive action or searches for a suitable resolution to their problems.

However, if we begin to obsess over things that we have no control over, or things that may never happen, or our decisions are based on our fears, not only is this a very unproductive way to live, but we may have a serious problem.

For example: If you have a job interview to prepare for and you know you easily qualify for the job but spend every waking hour worrying about:

  • What if the weather is bad that day?
  • What if there is traffic and you are delayed getting to the interview in time?
  • What if you could not give the interviewer the exact answers they were expecting?
  • What if, What If, What if...
Without focusing on the positive element and preparing for the job interview, you are looking at negative aspects and not problem solving. This is an unhealthy worry.
Overcoming Unhealthy Worry
The following should help you overcome unhealthy worry:

1. Write down the situation or situations that worry you.

2. Take one situation at a time and expand it, writing down what your greatest fear is.

3. Write down what you think will happen in this situation.

4. Write down the probability of it happening.

5. Write down what you can do to prevent it from happening.

6. Write down what you will do to handle it if it does happen.

7. Look at your answers you wrote down in 5 and 6 – and highlight the things you can do to either prevent the situation from happening or handling it if it does happen.

Once you have done this, there is nothing further you can do. However, you have converted your worry into a plan for solving the problem. Further worry is futile.

This article discussed methods on relieving monetary stress, making good decisions and turning constant unhealthy worry into effective problem solving. Use some of these solutions in your own life.