- Nearly 75% of Americans report that their finances contribute to stress in their lives
- Stress is a natural byproduct of life, but it can be beneficial or destructive, depending on how it is managed
- To avoid unhealthy levels of financial stress, it is important to understand one’s own stories about money and the situations they find themselves in
- Seeking advice from a trusted financial planner and working towards defining goals that are meaningful to you can help alleviate financial stress and lead to overall better health and well-being
Nearly 75% of Americans say their finances are the primary cause of stress. It’s also a top cause of divorce in America (consistently in the top three).
Neither of these is a “top ten list” you want your finances to be on, but financial stress is a very real feeling for all of us, no matter where we are in our lives.
The only question is to what extent you are feeling financial stress and whether or not that stress is a catalyst for growth or inhibiting your ability to live the life you want.
Stress, financial health, and well-being
Stress, to some extent, is healthy.
It has helped our bodies respond to and manage environmental threats for thousands of years. Our brains have come a long way, but their evolution is lagging behind the rapid progression of technology and the rate of change in our lives and the world around us.
The rational and logical part of our brain, which makes up about 5% of our cognition (how we think), is overpowered by our feeling brain. The other 95% works on emotions and stress responses. This is one of the things that makes our approach to financial planning different – we balance the numbers with your beliefs, values, and attitudes (your mindset) to drive improved financial health.
Stress inhibits your ability to make smart, informed decisions because it can impair the part of your brain responsible for rational decision-making.
When managed well, stress can catalyze motivation and higher achievement. However, when handled poorly, it can damage our financial health and well-being.
Sources of stress - situations and stories
When it comes to financial stress, I believe it has two very different sources—situations and stories.
Your situation is where you are in life and the circumstances you face. Whether you are working on paying off student loans (a stressful situation for many people) or having your first child (stressful for different reasons), stress takes on very different realities. The good news, at least to some extent, is that we can control our situations with proper financial planning.
The second, often overlooked source of stress concerns the stories we tell ourselves and aim to live up to. Our stories are very personal to us, and they are multi-faceted in nature. They are formed through interactions with our parents, communities, friends, educational systems, and personal experiences. These, in turn, form the beliefs, values, and attitudes we carry with us into adulthood.
Examples of stories we tell ourselves:
“I need to be financially successful to be worthy,” or
“I am not worthy of financial success.”
As different as these two stories are, they both can unintentionally undermine our financial decisions and create genuine stress in our lives.
Using stress and your stories to find financial calm
The goal isn’t to completely eliminate stress in our lives.
Stress isn’t always bad; it’s a natural result of our journeys in life—growing, learning, failing, and achieving. It can indicate that we are pushing ourselves toward that next level of success. However, it can also be taken too far, have the opposite effect, and limit our personal growth.
As we look ahead, join me in exploring a few questions:
- What life do you want to live? Are you living it?
- Who do you want to be today or become tomorrow?
- What stories are you telling yourself, and how do finances affect them?
- What stories are no longer serving you? And which stories will no longer serve you in the next leg of life?
Identifying your story is the first step to alleviating unhealthy stress in your life, financial or otherwise. Finding freedom from your financial stress will not only help you make smarter, more informed financial decisions (maximize that 5%!), but it will start to support your overall health and well-being.
The good news is that you are already well into your journey toward financial wellness as a member of Facet. Working with your Facet planner to define the outcomes that are most important to you, understanding your beliefs and values, and getting clarity around the life you want to live, means you’re well on your way to unlocking money’s potential in your life.
Find your financial calm and plan on!