Stress and finances are unfortunately two things that go hand in hand. I’m sure you’ve experienced at one time or another some stress related to managing your finances.
I know I have.
However, even if you aren’t struggling to pay your bills, stress can have a huge impact on your finances. How? Well let me give you a little background first.
Facebook has that feature called “On This Day” where they show you what you posted 1, 2, 3, 4 years ago, etc. Recently, it alerted me to a post from a couple of years ago. It was a picture of my wife and I on a little “home date night” watching a movie (hey, couples with kids have to do what they can!).
Now, two years ago, I was still a restaurant manager working very late ours and not getting much sleep. You could see my stress all over my face. I looked exhausted compared to now.
This immediately made me think of the stress level and lack of sleep that had become the norm for my life at that point. Stress affects your mind, your body, your mood, and your behavior. Some of the effects listed on Mayo Clinic’s website include:
- Stomach Issues
- Lack of motivation
For those who have encountered high levels of stress know that you can experience many of these symptoms. I experienced all of these (and more) at one point or another.
There are two BIG ways that stress has a direct impact on your finances. Both are not so obvious. Let’s get into them and then we’ll go over some stuff that you can do to manage your stress.
The first big way that stress can impact your finances is…
When you are stressed you are unhappy. Combined that with the fact that it’s harder to make smarter decisions, and that leads to increased spending with money.
Think back to a time when you were super stressed. Now imaging spending money on yourself during that time.
Feels good, right?
Spending money on food, toys, electronics, and things that will make you happy immediately can put a huge hole in your wallet when you’re stressed for an extended period of time. When I was super stressed, I would spend money on video games and food. It always felt good to buy stuff for myself. It also felt good eating so food was a “win-win” (if you can call it that) for me.
Spending $5 or $6 at the gas station almost every day to get terrible-for-you food added up fast. Even in just a 25 day period, that adds up to $125 at the very least. Video games weren’t much better. I spent upwards of $30 on average per game and bought 20-30 games in about a year. That’s way too much, not to mention the fact that most of them are still sitting on my shelf unplayed.
Increased spending with stress is definitely something to watch out for. Spending money on yourself is hardly worth it because, as I mentioned, we are looking for that immediate fix. We want something to make us happy now since we’re feeling stressed. Like with my video games, most of these things will sit on a shelf instead of being of any real worth to you. Most of the time, we buy something to instantly gratify us and then it either is forgotten in a few days or makes us feel terrible (here’s lookin’ at you, Twinkies).
The second BIG thing that is affected by stress, and directly related to your wallet, is something often overlooked. That is your…
Stress has been proven to be a silent killer. Mayo Clinic says “Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.”
A lot of those are directly related to increased risk of having a heart attack. I personally never want to experience a heart attack. This also makes me think of my own health problems when I was stressed like crazy.
Before I stopped being a restaurant manager, I would be sick all the time. There were times I would have the stomach flu and be violently throwing up. My biggest thorn in the side, though, was sinus infections. I would get a sinus infection literally once a month for 2 or 3 years straight. Even if I were to just get a cold, there was literally nothing I could do to keep it from turning into yet another sinus infection.
My immune system just was not up to fighting this stuff off without it affecting me in a major way. It was terrible.
A year and nine months out of the restaurant industry and I haven’t had a sinus infection in over a year. Before that, I had one or two since leaving. Stress-free and sinus infection-free!
Now right off the bat, some of you may be thinking, “Hey, this is what insurance is for.” Health insurance can take care of some of the pain in your pocketbook, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind with that.
First, health Insurance usually has some sort of max out of pocket in addition to the deductible (unless your premium is sky high). If you’re lucky, these can be low.
For my insurance, I have a a $3,000 deductible and a max out-of-pocket of $6,850. After our deductible is met, most things are covered 80%. So that means I’m still paying 20% of everything until I hit that $6,850 where my insurance starts paying for everything. That is still quite a bit of money. Remember, if you have a plan that covers more for you out of pocket, that means you’re paying more deductible.
Secondly, do you really want to go through that much in order to reach where your health insurance is paying for all of your healthcare?
So any way you slice it, it’s expensive to be over stressed.
Sometimes eliminating the stress in your life is not an option. In fact, experts say some stress is actually good for you. However, it’s important to know how to combat or eliminate some stress in your life so you can ultimately keep more money in your pocket.
Here are some ways that you can deal with stress in your life.
Exercising on a regular basis has been proven to reduce stress. It’s suggested for anyone from high school students to cardiac patients. From experience, though, it can be really hard to find the motivation to exercise when you’re stressed out. Still, if you can manage to get in a routine and exercise regularly, this is a great way to burn away some calories and stress.
Taking a simple deep breath has been shown to lower cortisol levels and relax the body, among other things. When you’re feeling stressed, take a quick break, take a nice deep breath through your nose, and let it out through your mouth. Repeat as necessary.
Go for a Walk
Sometimes it isn’t enough to stop what you’re doing for a quick minute and take a deep breath or two. Sometimes you need to get up and get moving! So get out of your chair and go for a quick 5 minute walk. While you’re at it, practice some deep breathing techniques while you’re walking. 😉
Take a Small Break
This goes beyond just stopping what you’re doing in order to take some deep breaths or go for a walk. This is about doing something entirely different for the next half hour or hour. Go for a coffee break. Grab some lunch. Read a book. Play a game. The important thing is to get your mind off of whatever was stressing you out and then come back fresh.
Treat Yourself to Something Special
Lastly, treating yourself to something small and inexpensive is a great way to reduce stress. Spending a little money on yourself up front can actually save you more money in the long run because you are reducing your stress. A key pointer on this, though.
Spend money on experiences not things. So guys, go out and grab a beer with a friend. Girls, go get a mani/pedi. Or vice-versa if you’d like. Don’t spend money on a video game if you’re not going to play it and it’s going to sit on a shelf for years like I did. Spend it on something that is going to be important to you.
If you’re looking for more ways to de-stress, this article has 23 science-backed ways to reduce stress. It even has links to studies to back up everything they’re listing!
Stress is one of those inevitable things that we experience through life that can greatly affect our finances…if we let it. Just like it’s important to manage our money so it doesn’t manage us, stress is the same way.
And managing your stress will make your pocketbook very happy.
Question for You
How do you manage your stress? Have you ever experienced stress costing you a lot of money like I have?
I’d love to hear!