Handling financial stress

Lack of sleep, suppressed appetite, overeating, weight loss, and increased desire to be alone – these are all symptoms of stressed people. For many Americans, stress due to financial worries is very real. According to the American Psychological Association, 73 percent of Americans name money as the number one factor that affects their stress level. The current state of the economy has definitely contributed to financial stress; yet, many people experience financial stress even during prosperous times. Many people worry about looming debt, losing his or her job, or experiencing an unforeseen financial crisis.

Stress can take a significant toll on one’s health if warning signs are ignored and immediate action is not taken to manage stress. Check out the warning signs below to see if you are under financial stress.

  • Constant worrying about money
  • Neglecting to pay bills
  • Spontaneous shopping sprees
  • Irrational behavior or attitude toward money
  • Harassing phone calls from bill collectors
  • Panic attacks when thinking about personal finances

If you find yourself experiencing one or more of these symptoms it’s time to get your mental and financial state in order. First, determine why you are stressed about money. Then, put together a realistic plan to get out of the situation you are in. Following are some financial tips to help pave the way to better financial health.

Control spending. If you are stressed about money, take matters into your own hands and control how much money you spend. There are some expenses that are fixed such as mortgage/rent, car payments, etc. But you can control things such as groceries, eating out, and shopping for non-essentials. You can even cut your cable and cell phone bill if you go back and re-evaluate your charges. Don’t let your money control you, control your money.

Build your nest egg. If you have adequate savings you’ll worry less about unexpected events or the sudden loss of income. Make sure you have enough savings to cover monthly household expenses if the unexpected were to happen. Don’t get caught in a rain storm without your umbrella.

Seek help. If you have made the necessary adjustments and still find yourself worrying about money, seek professional. Maybe you need to talk to a financial advisor to help get finances in order. Financial advisors and counselors are trained to look at finances and determine the best, personalized method for improving each financial situation.

Make time for yourself. Sometimes we all just need to step away from what’s stressing us out. It may be hard to step back from finances, but if it’s causing chronic stress in your life you may have no other choice. Tell yourself, you will not stress about money and make time each day to meditate and think about the positive things in your life.

Renee McGruder is a former communications coordinator and grant writer at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.