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Money and Stress

Money and Stress

| March 18, 2016

Stressed about money?  Lots of Americans are.  According to a 2014 survey by the American Psychological Association the most commonly reported sources of stress include money.  A whopping 64% of the adults polled report that money is “a very or somewhat significant source of stress” Work follows with 60%, the economy, 49%, family responsibilities 47% and personal health concerns 46%. Money stress is even higher for parents, 77%, for millennial’s, 75%, and Gen Xers, 76%.  Women report higher levels of stress about money than men and are “more likely than men to say they feel stress about money all or most of the time”.  How about couples in general?  Nearly 30% say finances cause the most stress in their relationship.  There may even be a name for money stress according to the American Psychological Association: Money anxiety discord or MAD, the acronym.

Why is money so stressful?

It could be due to fear and loss.   Fear of not having enough or fear of losing the money you have.  Stress is part of life.  Generally stress is considered a negative emotion or thing.  There are different types of stress.   According to Wikipedia “Chronic Stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period over which the individual perceives he or she has no control”. So if an individual feels chronic stress over money they believe they have no control over their money.  Hmmm…. It may feel that way but in reality money can be one of the areas of life you have the most control over.  Let’s have a paradigm shift and envision money as a positive stress.  What?  Some types of stress can be positive, one of which is known as Eustress.  Eustress is defined as “stress that is deemed healthful or giving one the feeling of fulfillment”.  The origin of Eustress is Greek, meaning “well, good” plus stress.  According to, Eustress can actually be good for your body, is healthful, gives a feeling of contentment and keeps you excited about life. 

Eustress certainly sounds much more appealing that Chronic Stress.  Stress is a part of our daily lives.  Many things in our lives allow us little control and may cause chronic stress such as the economy, the stock market, government, politics, your job, your health and even the weather.  You don’t have much control over any of them. If money is causing you to feel chronic stress, how about shifting that stress to Eustress?  Viewing money as a positive can be an incredibly powerful change in your thinking and your life.

How to view money as a positive stress? 

It starts with control.  You may not be able to control how much money you make or you have but you are the one who controls what you spend.  What you spend is something you have complete control over.    They key to, let’s call it “Eustress Money” is beginning with that very basic yet extremely powerful (and empowering) tool known as The Budget”.   If you are stressed about money or want to feel better even better about your money, start with The Budget.  It is the foundation. 

A Budget is the Foundation

Begin with how much money comes in.  Then add up your expenses.  If you don’t know your expenses start tracking them.  No wait:  track your expenses even if you do know them.  Why?  Because what you know and focus on, you can change or control.   Bingo; Positive stress! Begin with the necessities like Food, Housing, Utilities, Transportation and Health Insurance.   Next add in the next highest priorities such as Medical, Dental, and Debt such as Credit Cards, Telephone, Television, Internet, Entertainment and Vacation.  Don’t forget to add Funding Retirement Plans, Education Plans and Charitable Donations. 

  Ask yourself if your spending choices reflect the person you know yourself to be.  If not, begin changing them. Your spending and budget is a mirror of you.   If you don’t like what you see, make changes.  There are many excellent tools out there relating to budgeting available, including debt reduction, saving and tracking spending and income, but the first step and foundation is The Budget. The changes may be minor or major. Look your budget directly in the eye, decide what you want it to be and set it down in writing.  It’s a contract with you.  If the things you can’t control are worrying you, sit down, pick up your budget and think about the money choices you made today, yesterday and will make tomorrow.  Write them down, reflect and ask if they are necessary, solid, stable, necessary, unnecessary or emotional.  Make those choices count! 

“Beware of little expenses.  A small leak will sink a great ship” Benjamin Franklin

Marcy Haines CFP® is the president of Vision Wealth Management, Inc. in Baker City and a Registered Principal with, and securities are offered through, LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.