Some Tips on Money and Stress

I read a hundred little articles a day on various subjects. Okay, well a hundred maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I do read a fair amount. Some are interesting, some eye rolling, and some are even helpful. Whenever I find one I think a friend will like I email them the link. This morning I read this piece on stress and money. I have found a great many people in my age range, 23-30, are just starting out, graduating, trying to find jobs, paying off student loans, and money can be tight and it sucks. I was very luck that my parents paid for my entire undergrad and even gave me spending money so I didn’t have to work during the year, however, I did work in the summer. Law school and grad school, financially, are my responsibility. I, again, am lucky because I received scholarships to pay for my tuition, but I did have to take out loans for living expenses and books and now I have the joy of paying those back.

What makes bills so frustrating is that instead of spending my hard earned money on things I want, like maybe that new dress or a vacation, it goes to rent, student loans, groceries, etc.. living at home with my parents never looked so good. What I’m trying to say, is that lack of funds can be stressful and learning to deal with the stress of no money and even different types of stress can be just as tough. Every time I sit down to pay bills and balance the checkbook I remind myself that while money is tight, it’s not as bad as it could be. John and I still get to go out to eat occasionally, I still get a few new things that I want each month, we have 3 pets that we can afford to take care of, we can go out for ice cream at Cold Stone, I got two new dresses from the J. Crew Clearance Center for a wedding we just went to, the small things that I tend over look when I see that ending balance for the month. Sometimes it can be hard not to be selfish or materialistic and get bitter about having hand-me-down furniture instead of the new coffee table from Pottery Barn that I’ve been eyeing. But at the end of the day, I have a coffee table and there are a lot of people starting out who don’t have any furniture. I actually do have a few really nice pieces of furniture…I really do dislike our couch though, I’m sorry, but I hate it.

My husband and I were talking about “starting out in life” and we have some friends who have never had a financial problem a day in their life, and probably never will, but some of these friends are not thankful for what they have. Being strapped for cash, as I have said, sucks, but while it can take a negative toll on your relationship, but it can also bring you closer. Instead of going to the bar or to some crowded place to hang out with each other or friends, John and I hang out at home and read or watch Netflix together, we walk the dog, go to the pool, just hang out. Relationships, both friends and romantic, can be clouded by all the stuff and social activities to where the core can be lost. Some of the best nights we’ve had with our friends have been hanging out at someone’s apt or townhouse. These days remind me a great deal of college, and I like that. I miss college days and lounging about with friends, and I feel like lately, we’ve been getting back to those days, just instead of classes on Monday morning we have work.

Now that I’ve given a good long rambling, here is what I initially wanted to post. I found these tips on how to deal with stress and some of them are actually pretty good, others are common sense (you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t practice them), and others I just glossed over. Either way, it’s not a bad read and if you’re stressed, take it from the queen of being stressed out, sometimes you have to take just 5 minutes to look at the things you have or have bought or done in the past week to see that sometimes, it isn’t all terrible. I mean you did stop by Starbucks and get a drink without thinking about it, right? Cause I totally stopped and got a giant Kit-Kat this morning.

 

Handling Stress in a Tough Economy: When money is tight, we get tense. Here’s how to manage the stress that often comes with financial instability.

By Katherine Raymond

Money can’t buy happiness. But let’s face it, money trouble sure can make you unhappy. Though Wall Street number-crunchers may tell us the economy is on the rebound, millions of Americans are still feeling the pinch in their wallets — and the stress that comes with it.

Concerns about making ends meet can take a toll on your job performance, your personal relationships, and your sense of well-being. We asked Carmen Wong Ulrich, personal finance expert and author of The Real Cost of Living (Perigee, 2010), what you can do to feel more in control of your financial situation. Here are five ways to keep money troubles from getting you down:

1) Control what you can.
In an economy where job situations or financial portfolios can change unexpectedly, it’s easy to feel helpless. But you can take a proactive approach to your finances. “You may not be able to control if you’re going to get laid off. But you can be prepared,” says Wong Ulrich. “What can you do to make yourself a better job candidate? Work on what you can work on, which will automatically focus less energy on being anxious about what you can’t control.”

2) Don’t let money matters distract you.
Obsessing about money won’t help—in fact, your work performance could suffer if you’re preoccupied and stressed. “If you’re not focusing on your work, you jeopardize your finances,” Wong Ulrich points out. “Doing the best job you can do means you lower the chances that you’ll be let go and your source of money dried up.” So remind yourself that focusing on your job performance is one of the best ways to make your financial situation more secure.

3) Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
If you have a spouse or partner, it’s important that you communicate about money concerns. Yes, it can be stressful. But avoiding the issue might make things worse. Wong Ulrich advises approaching the subject of money “as partners, not adversaries. You’re a team, in it together. Even if you have different styles of money management, you need to [both] be involved in big decisions and be on the same page about your plans.”

4) Take responsibility for your money.
Think carefully about spending choices. “You are in control of how you spend your money and where you decide to put your money,” says Wong Ulrich. “Even on a small paycheck, you still have control as to where your money goes.” Take this responsibility seriously. How do you do it?

  • Make a monthly budget.
  • Look closely at how you use your credit cards. If you’re in debt, work on a plan and timeline for getting it under control.
  • If you’re not in debt, work on setting aside emergency reserves so unexpected circumstances don’t land you there.

“It helps to take a step back and view your finances as if you were the CFO of a company — or your own accountant,” Wong Ulrich suggests. Approaching your finances from a more empowered perspective is good for your bank account and your stress level.

5) Focus on the positives.
Sure, the power of positive thinking won’t fix your financial problems. But it’s important not to let money worries weigh you down. And focus on things you can do that will make you feel better about yourself.

  • Make healthy food choices. It is possible on a budget!
  • Stay active! You don’t need to join a gym. Walk more, take up a sport, do anything that will keep you engaged.
  • Be realistic and positive.

Financial issues don’t go away overnight. But if you stay positive and focus on smart long-term choices, you’ll feel more empowered and less stressed.

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