You’ve checked your bank account and found you have only $42 left in your savings account. You’ve received at least three phone calls from creditors this morning, they want to know why your payments were delayed. Your car payment is due in three days and you’re not sure how you’ll pay the bill. Last month, your landlord threatened to kick you out when your rent check did not arrive on the first of the month.
If this situation sounds familiar, it may be that you are under financial pressure. From time to time, we all suffer from one level or another. Financial stress is simply a fact of modern life. No matter how hard we work, no matter how hard we save money, we may find it difficult to pay all our bills. This may be especially true if we are hit by a major traumatic event, such as the death of a spouse, divorce or serious illness.
Financial stress can be felt in a number of ways. For example, you may not be able to sleep at night due to too worrying about your financial situation. You may find yourself grumpy and may end up conflicting with your spouse. You may find yourself yelling at your child for minor infractions, or even getting a panic attack at work.
The truth is that financial stress can cause tremendous physical and psychological discomfort. It can cause anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and even stroke. As a result, financial stress is actually a serious health problem, although often not recognized. In essence, your financial problems may be making you sick.
But how do you deal with the problems that seem unsolvable? First, be sure to see a doctor and perform a full physical examination. Identify your symptoms and recognize that financial stress may be the cause. Your doctor may then refer you to a psychiatrist or a therapist who can help you solve the problem.
Next, consulting a certified financial planner. He or she can help you achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals. Don’t be shy about letting planners know how serious your financial problems are. Remember, the only way to really deal with financial stress is to face difficulties. Try to avoid the problem … pretend things are not as bad as they are now … in the end it will only worsen your problem.
Your financial planner may want you to come up with a workable budget. It is important to be realistic when working out the numbers. It does little good for you to come up with a budget that looks fine on paper, but that doesn’t work in the real world. Make sure that you budget for all the essentials, food, shelter, clothing, medical care. And also try to budget for long-term priorities, such as college savings or retirement. Also, don’t forget to spend at least a small part of your budget on entertainment and leisure, which are major activities to reduce your stress level.
First, you may want to track your every single expenditure that you make. This can be difficult, especially if you are not used to this type of recording. But this can be quite instructive. For example, you may not realize how much you spend on coffee and milk each month, or how much you spend each day on a lottery drawing. By performing the record-keeping, you can discover ways to reduce your budget without really feeling the pressure.
Saving some money to cover unexpected costs is also important. Sometimes we all get bills that seem to be at a loss. Your savings will act as an insurance policy against disaster. With some funds in your bank, you can better withstand the financial storms you encounter, even if you have very little money in the beginning. Knowing that you doing everything possible to control his finances, the worry in the middle of the night might disappear.