According to a recent CNN survey, 71% of Americans identify money as a significant cause of stress in their lives. Further, 76% of households live paycheck-to-paycheck and credit card debt is growing.
Money-related stress is not just a matter of simple dollars and numbers. When 71% of respondents cite money as a cause, the problem clearly extends across socio-economic classes. Money-related stress is more than just about a shortage of dollars.
Financial stress can lead to worry about maintaining our lifestyle, the physical and emotional well-being of family members, and future retirement plans. Stress related to economic change is normal.
A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association indicates that as many as 8 out of 10 Americans are stressed because of money concerns. In addition:
- 50% are stressed about their ability to provide for their family's basic needs
- 56% are concerned about job stability and workload
- 60% feel angry and irritable
- 53% feel fatigued
- 53% say they lie awake at night with worry
- 47% report having headaches
- 35% report an upset stomach
- 34% report increased muscle tension
If you struggle with financial-related stress, begin thinking differently about money by adopting a few of these stress-reducing thoughts.
9 Stress-Reducing Truths About Money
1. You need less than you think. Many of the things we think we can’t live without are considered luxuries to most of the world (e.g., cell phones, microwaves, cars, matching shoes, and larger closets, just to name a few). The commercialization of our society has worked hard to stir discontent in our hearts. Meanwhile, there are wonderful benefits for those who choose to own less.
2. Money won’t make you happy. Study after study confirms it. Some of the most joyful people are far from wealthy and some of the wealthiest people are far from joyful. There is a measure of stability and security that arises from having our most basic financial needs met. But we need so much less than we think we need. The sooner we stop assuming more money will make us happy tomorrow, the sooner we can start finding happiness today.
3. Money is not the greatest goal of your work. Financial compensation does not succeed as a long-term motivator and the association between salary and job satisfaction is very weak. In other words, a larger paycheck will not improve your satisfaction at work. Don’t work for the paycheck alone. Work for the sake of contribution and benefit to others. This approach is idealistic, but it is also fulfilling and stress-reducing.
4. Wealth has its own troubles. There are troubles associated with poverty; few of us would debate that fact. But money brings troubles of its own: it clouds moral judgment, it distorts empathy, it promotes pride and arrogance, and it can become an addiction. Fears of the wealthy include isolation, anxiety, and raising maladjusted children. If you are thinking money will solve your troubles, you are mistaken. Once we change our thinking on this, we can stop searching for answers in the wrong places.
5. The desire for riches robs us of life. We have heard that the love of money is the root of all evil. But often times, the mere desire for more of it robs us of life as well. It is wise to remove its desire from our affections. This would reduce our stress. But even better, it would allow true life-giving pursuits to emerge.
6. Boundaries are life-giving. Boundaries motivate us to discover happiness in our present circumstance. This is one reason a personal spending plan (e.g., budget) is such a helpful tool—the financial boundary forms a helpful framework for life. There is no joy in living beyond your means—only stress. Live within the boundaries of your income. And find more life because of it.
7. There is joy in giving money away. Generous people are happier, healthier, more admired, more satisfied with life, and have deeper relationships with others. One of the most stress-reducing things you can ever do with your money is give some of it away. Generosity is achievable today regardless of your current situation.
8. The security found in money/possessions is fleeting at best. The burden of accumulating and maintaining money/possessions slowly becomes the main focus of our lives. Meanwhile, we lose community, freedom, happiness, and passion. Our search for security, life, and joy is essential to being human—we just need to start looking for it in the right places.
9. Money, at its core, is only a tool. It saves us from making our own clothes, tools, and furniture. Because of money, you receive money to trade with someone else who uses their giftedness to create something different than you. That is its purpose. And if you have enough to meet your needs, you shouldn’t live in stress trying desperately to acquire more.
Stress has some terrible effects on our bodies – it causes irritability, fatigue, and nervousness. Unfortunately, money consistently ranks as one of the greatest causes of stress.
Written by Joshua Becker