Money, Stress, & Happiness

If you stress about money, you’re not alone: a significant amount of Americans are deeply in debt, living beyond their means, don’t have a clear plan to solve their financial problems, and stress about it quite a bit.  The fear, stress and conflict associated with money issues can also impact your personal happiness. Financial stress is a sadly widespread experience. According to a poll on this site, roughly 7 in 10 respondents are "very stressed" about money, and only 1 in 10 report that they are not stressed about finances and the proportion of people stressed about money is only going up. This is pretty significant because financial stress is linked to health problems like depression and sleep problems. With the rising cost of gas and food, the mortgage crisis, and the new bank troubles we're seeing, many Americans are feeling the crunch of financial stress. Anxiety over money can negatively affect health in several ways:

Unhealthy Coping Behaviors: People experiencing financial stress can be more likely to numb their anxiety by drinking, smoking, overeating and practicing other unhealthy coping behaviors. This in turn leads to more stress.

Less Money For Self-Care: With less money in the budget, people who are already under financial stress tend to cut corners in areas like health care to pay for basic necessities like food. Small problems can go unchecked and turn into larger problems. This also leads to more stress.

Lost Sleep:  When under financial stress, people often experience trouble sleeping, which can add up to a sleep deficit, impairing immune functioning and cognitive abilities, causing additional moodiness, and more.

Unhealthy Emotions: Credit card debt can cause unhealthy emotions that can take a toll on health. People can experience anxiety, frustration and a sense of hopelessness as the debt piles up and increasing amounts of money are needed just to pay the interest. This causes additional stress, which compounds with the stress from poor coping and self-neglect, to become a menacing amount of stress.

Find Out Where You Stand: Do you have debt that is bogging you down and keeping you from reaching your financial goals? Using credit and debt can be a powerful tool that allows you to buy a home, a vehicle, send children to college, and even provide leverage for other purchases, but when you accumulate too much debt, it can pose a serious problem.

Learn About Implementing Systems That Can Help: Find out why budgets are important to your financial success, and learn how to create one that will fit well with your lifestyle. The ability to save money is the cornerstone of building wealth. In order to save money, you need to spend less than you earn. This is often easier said than done, but there are plenty of ways to help you begin saving money on even the tightest budget.

Work Toward Getting Out of Debt: Getting out from under credit card debt is much easier with a plan. If you’re spending money each month on credit card or other unnecessary debt, you’re taking money away from other areas of your  budget that can be used to build wealth and plan for the future.As you work on improving your financial situation, you can reduce stress by practicing stress-reducing techniques and making other changes to create a low-stress lifestyle. If you don’t think you can tackle the problem alone, there are people out there willing to help. Once you create a plan for yourself to get out of debt and plan for your future you should feel significantly less stressed about money. When money is less of an issue, rather than being enslaved by it, you can use it to do the things that make you truly happy.

Brainstorm all solutions!
Just write down everything that comes to mind. Do not judge or critique your ideas because that could interrupt your creative flow. Exercise your brain by letting it reach for new possibilities. Here are the results of Jack and Judy's brainstorming session:

- Frank owes us $50.

- Sell the extra fishing gear.

- Have a yard sale.

- Offer to work a few extra shifts.

- Ask for a raise.

- Reduce unnecessary expenses.

- Submit medical bills and other expenses for reimbursement.


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