Recently, we’ve been doing a lot of research on financial health. We learned that the number one common stressor in most people’s lives is financial stress. The Great Recession may have officially ended, but most of us face stagnant wages and increasing debt—many of us are actually considered to be poorer than we were a decade ago.
When we’re stressed, our bodies enter the “fight or flight” mode. Physical responses occur inside our body that can lead to severe health issues. Chronic stress over finances has been linked to greater risk for conditions such as anxiety, depression, ulcers, migraines, sleep disturbances, heart attacks, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, substance abuse and more according to the American Psychological Association.
3 Tips for Dealing with Financial Stress
A big reason most of us stress about money is that many of us would rather ignore our finances. We pay our bills the best we can, while we stress about the future—being able to pay off student loans, afford a vacation, buy a better car, save enough for a down payment on a house, send kids to college, or retire. The number one way to eliminate stress is to take action by following some of the tips we’ve learned:
- Get a 360 degree view.
In the not so recent past, the majority of financial transactions were made with checks and cash. Now, these transactions are nearly entirely driven electronically. While this serves as a great convenience, it can create stress when trying to keep track of the coming and going of our money. Online money management sites like Mint and LearnVest are making it easier to see exactly what we’re worth and how we’re spending our money by allowing us to link our accounts, portfolios and investments. Many banks are even starting to offer their own versions of this kind of software. Knowing how much we have and where it is going allows us to adjust, make better decisions about the future and offers a lot of peace of mind.
- Manage lifestyle inflation.
Most of us will spend more money as we make more money. This is known as lifestyle inflation. We live up to our ability to pay the bills but can’t manage to save money. Many of us rationalize this by saying we deserve to live a little. However, it is important to make sure that we are spending our money on what we need and not what we want. After our needs have been met, we can allocate our discretionary income toward saving for vacations, newer cars and other wants.
- Create a healthy you account.
According to an American Psychological Association study on stress, nearly one in five Americans say they have either considered skipping or skipped going to the doctor in the past year when they needed healthcare because of financial concerns. Many of us have health savings accounts through work that allow us to pay for doctors’ visits. If you don’t, consider putting a little away each month for your health. Use it for doctors’ appointments, a yoga class you’ve wanted to take or some new sports equipment.
Our overall health and well-being goes far beyond taking care of our physical health. It includes paying attention to our mental, spiritual and financial health, as well. It is all interconnected. Taking care of our financial health can help us feel more confident when we’re faced with a financial choice. It can offer us peace of mind and reduce our stress significantly.
Do you consider yourself financially healthy? What’s your number one tip for gaining financial well-being?