Behavioral Finance

Six Steps to Eliminate Financial Stress

First off, if you are interested in some great resources pertaining some of the recent government announcements to help Canadians during COVID-19, here are some great resources:

  1. Information pertaining CERB, GST and Canada Child Benefits from Preet Banerjee (CLICK HERE)
  2. Information and calculator about deferring your mortgage (CLICK HERE)

Now to this week’s post.

The world is in a volatile state right now. We have many uncertainties: how many new COVID-19 cases took place today, will we contract COVID-19, how long the current social distancing measures will take place, when our jobs will resume (if you aren’t currently working), and many others aren’t sure if they will be working next week.

Needless to say, these unknowns can cause stress.

I wanted to talk about ways we all can reduce our financial stress today, tomorrow and in the future. You will notice these are all things we can actually control. Our minds love to control things!

Okay, be honest with me: if you answer “yes” to one of the following… read on!

Read the following and answer “yes” or “no”:

  • Have you ever thrown out your ATM receipt after you withdrew money because you didn’t want to see how much was in your account?
  • Have you ever found yourself over spending but rationalizing it with, “I deserve this.”
  • Have you ever avoided opening your loan repayment mail because the balance scares you?
  • Have you ever found yourself wishing you made more money as you think it will solve your financial stressors?
  • Have you found yourself wanting to become more diligent and organized with your finances? But, nothing happens?

I know, this little exercise was a trick. We are all human. Money has the tendency to stress us out. If you answered NO to all the questions, please comment below about how you became a bionic human and how we can do the same!

Money problems are stressful—especially when we feel like there’s not enough of it, or there won’t be enough in the future.

But, one of the absolute worst ways to respond to this stress is to ignore the problem. We call that the ostrich effect: stick your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. It’s like the piling up of laundry currently in my kid’s closet. It’s easier to pretend it’s not there, but doing so means it’s only going to get bigger by the time that we need to deal with it.

Six tips to reduce the stress that comes with money

1. Is this a money worry or money trouble?

  • In “How to Worry Less About Money,” author John Armstrong defines money troubles as things that can be solved by having more money. For example, having more money can alleviate the trouble of paying bills, paying debt, and buying gifts for special occasions.
  • On the other hand, money worries are deeper. They look at what’s going on in our mind and soul. For example, we might have “envy,” which is causing us to think we need a new car or house. This might seem like a money trouble issue (i.e. we need more money to buy the car or house). However, perhaps the envy is not just around the money or buying the new car. It’s something else… we can find insight in investigating and determining where this envy originates.

2. Be involved with your finances

  • Just like any great relationship, the more involved you are, the better it is. Our money relationship is no different. Rip open the bills. Look at those bank statements. It may be scary, but at least you know how scary it is. In doing so, you eliminate the fear of the unknown.

3. Offload your stress

  • Make a physical list of what your money stressors are. Write down whatever has been ruminating in your brain in the wee hours of the night. For most of us, the shear act of writing down a list of our “to-dos” helps eliminate the negative thoughts taking up space in our minds. Becoming aware of our money stressors allows us to start to gain control of the stress.

4. Get a second opinion

  • Okay, this is not secret, but money is incredibly emotional. So, grab a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor and decide what is the best course of actions to take. Having a second opinion allows us to remove any emotions that can skew our reality (because they do!). The goal is to address the most imminent issues first. Doing so, gives you quick wins that will help reduce some stress and prepare you for the next “to do.” It’s hard to make decisions alone. So, get that second opinion. 

5. Make a plan

  • Just like when we are going on holidays, we make a plan so everything goes well. Our money should be no different. However, according to, 1 in 5 Americans spend more time planning a vacation than they do making financial plans. Yikes!
  • If we want to arrive at a certain financial destination, we need a plan. It’s simple, but yet so hard. Your financial plan should include your entire financial life (income, savings, debts, expenses and spending priorities). Your plan should act as your “roadmap.” This map will provide you with the steps to take today to meet your current and future goals.

6. Follow the plan but allow for course corrections

  • Having a plan is important. But the plan is useless if we don’t follow it. The key is to create a reasonable plan that you can and will follow as best as possible. I say this because life happens and often we are not able to stick 100% to the plan. However, regularly reviewing the plan and making frequent course corrections (much like a pilot does), will allow us to arrive safely at our destination.

Whether your financial stress is rooted in money trouble (a tangible issue that can be solved with more money) or money worries (a less tangible issue that can only be solved by doing some work on ourselves and determining the root cause), we have the power to solve this stress.

Take some time this week, maybe over lunch or when you have some time in the evening to put your feet up: go over the six items above and take action! 

What do you do to control your financial stress? I would love to hear!

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