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10 Ways Stress Can Negatively Impact Your Finances

Stress may be robbing you of riches.

Key points

  • Stress can trigger mental health and substance abuse issues that impair financial health.
  • Financial boundaries in relationships may become compromised when under stress.
  • Fear-based thinking and reactive decisions while under stress may cause abandonment of financial planning.
  • Stress can create costly interpersonal conflict.

It's no secret that living with stress impacts your physical and mental health and general well-being. In fact, 73 percent of Americans experience psychological symptoms caused by stress, and 48 percent feel their stress has increased over the past five years.1 But did you know that stress can also impact your bottom line? How?

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Stress can cause a dent in your finances as you:
1. Accrue late payment and overdraft fees, parking tickets, and other fines. Stress can cause overwhelm, forgetfulness, and disorganization that may lead to late bill payment and overdraft fees.
2. Have poor financial boundaries. Stress can rob you of the energy needed to set healthy financial limits with others. For example, giving your teen the cash or item they are requesting because it’s easier than putting up a fight.
3. Spend on self-medicating items such as food, alcohol, and drugs. Stress can self-soothing behaviors such as over-eating, over-drinking, and over-using substances that can lead to addiction.
4. Trigger mental health issues that impair the ability to work and/or think about financial management. We are all genetically predisposed to respond to stress differently. And we all have a differing assortment of coping skills. For some, excess stress triggers panic and anxiety and leads to depression. For others, it may trigger underlying conditions such as PTSD, eating disorders, or addiction.
5. Abandon your financial plan. Stress can push you into denial when you are on system-overload. During this time, checking your balances or how you're doing with your budget isn’t a priority. This leads to costly financial unconsciousness.
6. Decrease in self-esteem. Stress can trigger your Inner Saboteur, the voice in your head that criticizes you and puts you down. This can impair how you put yourself out in the world, making you less confident and assertive. This can lead to poor job performance and lost opportunities.
7. Make reactive financial decisions. Stress can create panic leading to impulsive and reactive financial decisions. For example, you might move into an expensive apartment because you can’t handle living with your family, or sell stock because you are worried you won’t have enough cash.
8. Engage in negative or catastrophic thinking about money. Stress can trigger fear-based thinking that can lead to financial self-sabotage—for instance, making desperate financial choices like selling a house or item for less than it is worth or quitting college because you are worried about accruing debt (forgetting your long-term financial goals).
9. Experience interpersonal conflict. Stress can trigger relationship conflict at home and at work. This can lead to job performance issues, job loss, and lost opportunities. It can also lead to unanticipated expenses of relationship breakups, from moving out or divorce proceedings.
10. Regress into dysfunctional patterns. You learn relational roles and unconsciously recreate them until you choose something better. Stress can trigger a set-back into old relationship patterns, such as financially enabling others to not take responsibility for themselves, that no longer fit your needs.

Seek Support to Alleviate Your Stress and Improve Your Financial Health

Unfortunately, stress, like other unaddressed mental health issues, doesn’t go away by being ignored.

Here are some ways to address the stress that is hurting your finances:
● Consider what life changes you need to make to reduce stress and increase self-care and support.
● Seek the help of a therapist who can help you with stress management practices such as mindfulness or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Make a concerted effort to reduce your stress to improve your mental, physical, relational, and financial health. You are worth the effort!



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