Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

Putting coins in a jar

Moving from Financial Stress to Financial Wellness

by James Porter May 25, 2021

This blog on financial wellness is divided into two installments.  The first installment is on the ways that financial stress compares to other forms of stress.

In many ways financial stress is uniquely different from other forms of stress. But all stressors have certain aspects that can be controlled by you and certain aspects that can’t. So, one piece of advice that applies to financial stress as well as all forms of stress is to focus on what you CAN control and let go of what you can’t.

For example, you can’t control the state of the economy, but you can control how much money you put aside in savings every month, even if it’s just a little bit. Eventually, if you’re diligent, focusing on what you CAN control will help you to feel less stressed about what you can’t control.

Take the standard advice of putting aside enough money so that you can go six months without any income in the event that you were to experience downsizing or some other form of job-loss. That action addresses something you can’t control (the economy or a pandemic for that matter) with something you can control (your savings).

Another way that financial stress is at least relatable to other forms of stress can be seen through the lens of counter-productive coping. Counter-productive coping is the surprisingly common way that most Americans cope with stress. This form of coping is called counter-productive because (even though it may initially lower your stress) it will eventually lead to even more stress and more problems. The main varieties of counter-productive coping include: Emotional eating, smoking, recreational drug use, engaging in high-risk behaviors and you guessed it: Spending money on things you don’t really need and sometimes can’t afford.

People often call this monetary form of counter-productive coping: Mall Therapy. But make no mistake about it, when you spend money on things to make you happy, you may find this variety of therapy doesn’t last for long. Your acquisitions may make you feel better for a while, but eventually, if they don’t work as promised or just lose their luster, your purchases may have the exact opposite effect. (Not to mention the added financial burden you may be bringing on.)

So these are the ways that financial stress relate to other forms of stress. But really solving this problem requires more effort on your part. You need to commit to certain strategies over the long haul in order to not only LOWER your stress but improve your financial wellness. In our next installment we’ll look at following five strategies in detail:

  1. Spend less than what you earn
  2. Get rid of high interest store credit cards
  3. Have money taken out automatically from your paycheck and put into a savings plan
  4. Trade in your credit card for a debit card and keep track of all your purchases.
  5. Start a retirement account with a firm like Vanguard or Fidelity

By following these five simple ideas you can turn financial stress into wellness. See you in the next installment!

James Porter
James Porter