Money and Stress: Moving from Anxiety to Action

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

Are you stressed out about your financial situation? According to the American Psychological Association (APA) Study of Stress in America the number one source of stress for Americans is money. Money stress affects every part of our lives–our relationships, our jobs, even our health. Financial stress has a way of consuming our entire lives.

Similarly, the APA study found that adults ages 18-47 reported higher stress levels than their parents and grandparents’ generations. Young adults are stressed out by the rise in student loan debt, the bleak unemployment rate for recent grads and fears that they will never be able to accomplish their financial goals like owning home, retirement or even having children. Young adults today, myself included, are caught in a web of fear and stress about money. So what can we do?

We can, like many people that I know, choose to avoid the topic of money all together. We can choose to not talk about money, live the way that we want and let our credit cards take care of it. We can avoid our student loan payments and defer our credit card payments. If we don’t talk about it and don’t deal with it our money stress just will go away right?

We all know that the issues won’t go away and yet so many of us choose to avoid our money issues and end up stressed. But, there is another way. First, we can name it. We can take our money problems head on. It is scary and challenging, but it is necessary. We can own our debt (credit card or student loans). We can own our employment issues and lack of income. We can own the ways that we have lived beyond our income. And, when we name it whether by ourselves, to close friends or in a more public way to our communities we will find that we are not alone. So many people are dealing with the same challenges that we are, and they are just as afraid. While money issues may feel isolating, together we can hold each other accountable, help each other achieve financial sanity and maybe even effect real change around these issues in our communities. I encourage you, if you feel alone in your financial issues talk to someone maybe a family member, friend, spiritual leader, financial counselor or small group. Find someone or some people to support you on your journey to your financial freedom! It is amazing how naming your financial challenges and knowing that you are not alone has a way of alleviating stress.

As we begin to name our financial shortcomings, we should also take a look at our financial assets. Take a hard look at all that you have and be grateful. Maybe you or your spouse/partner has a good, steady job. Maybe you have a supportive family that is willing to help you financially. Maybe your debt is below the national average. Maybe you have found a supportive community to walk with you. Maybe you are just grateful to have a roof over your head and food on the table. It is so easy to focus on the negative things (what we don’t have), but we need to take time to focus on what we do have. We all have much to be grateful for and these are the people, resources and facts that will help us to hang on on the long road to achieving financial sanity.

Lastly, we have to make a plan to move forward. Create a sustainable budget for yourself and clear, realistic goals. Make it a goal to live within your means. Want help creating a budget? Check out these posts. Not sure that you can do it alone? Seek out financial help. If you are struggling with student loan or credit card debt, talk to the free financial counselors at LSS MN. Take a debt management course, like Dave Ramsey, at your local congregation or community center. Check out the financial resources available through your bank, investment company or insurance provider. Check out the posts on this blog. Find someone who is financially savvy who can serve as your coach. Be proactive!

You cannot solve money stress by yourself, but by naming your challenges, looking at your assets and making a plan you can begin to move forward and achieve financial sanity. The whole mission of this blog is to assist you on this journey. So get moving and know that Grace, the author of this blog, and hundreds of other frugal community readers are behind you!

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