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Oct 29

How To Tackle Financial Stress

Financial stress can adversely affect a persons’ psychological state. This negative psychological state has a tendency to percolate down to the affected person’s workplace and – in fact – into all social interactions. Surveys have shown that financial stress is among the root causes of decreased performance at work and a steady decline in physical and mental wellbeing.

CAUSES OF FINANCIAL STRESS

The sources of financial stress are varied. In India, one of main causes is worry about the adequacy of retirement savings. Debt is yet another significant causative factor, as is worry about one’s ability to pay regular bills and housing loan installments. Most middle-class people in India are also under considerable stress related to their children’s education. Almost 90% of all survey subjects indicated that they experience stress over the rate of inflation and the resultant changes in interest rate, and the fact that their pay packets are not keeping pace with it.

An adjunct is stress created by joblessness or the fear of losing one’s job – which would create a financial deficit. A smaller segment of the Indian population experiences stress because they fear losing wealth that they have accumulated.

Lack of objectivity with the use of credit card can also cause stressful situations. Credit cards are a relatively new phenomenon in India, and many users tend to overspend with them. The financial woe this results in can be attributed to a lack of knowledge about credit card billing, hidden clauses and neglecting to read the fine print.

In the age of plastic money, people are tempted to overspend and misinterpret their spending power. A credit card purchase does not entail immediate payment and this can lead to a false sense of security. The result is invariably a lot of stress. The roots of most finance-related stress disorders are two-fold – lack of proper planning and a disconnection with the of one’s true financial position and future prospects.

DETRIMENTS OF FINANCIAL STRESS

Is financial stress itself a serious matter? If we consider that 80-90% of all ailments derive from stress, it certainly is. It has been proved that worrying excessively about one’s finances leads to heart disease, high blood pressure and in some cases alcohol and drug abuse. Depression related to haywire finances is almost a national mantra in India now. Financial stress also has peripheral bad effects, meaning that it causes absenteeism and reduces am employee’s productivity.

TACKING FINANCIAL STRESS

One of the baseline commandments in financial stress management is – get help. Finances are a serious matter and no single person can have perfect oversight. Moreover, we tend to become stuck in false belief systems about money. For instance, we may believe that a certain investment scheme is the best only because we have no knowledge of other schemes. Effective financial management calls for inside information into market dynamics and changing laws.

Complacency about deteriorating finances is a known ‘killer’. We tend to ignore the increasing seriousness of a situation, allowing it to build up until it is unmanageable. People dealing with large amounts of money – such as businesspersons – should consult a qualified financial adviser.

Even at the grassroots level of household finances, two heads are better than one. Managing household finances is teamwork, not a one-man show. Couples need to communicate with each other over the state of household finances. They must also set weekly, monthly and yearly parameters for what needs to be purchased or invested in. Doing this will considerably reduce the levels of finance-related stress in the family.

Regardless of how serious a financial situation is, it is never too late to get organized. Organization is they primary key for sorting out complicated finances. Effective organization calls for inputs from others and, when required, from experts.

BRINGING DOWN FINANCIAL STRESS

If one is already under stress from financial problems, planning is an extremely important factor. Often, one is tempted to throw good money after bad in hope of a quick-fix solution. When one is faced with financial stress, there are certain ground rules to follow:

  • Consult a professional financial adviser – A professional will know of ways and means that you are not aware of
  • Curtail spending until the crisis is resolved – This is no time for impulse buying as a stress-busting measure
  • If in debt, talk to your creditors and explain your situation frankly – Perfect transparency in such situation is a far better tool than evasion

OBJECTIVITY – THE ULTIMATE STRESS-BUSTER

We tend to run away from money-related problems rather than facing up to them. This is not even a temporary solution. The minute we accept such a situation squarely, we reduce stress because we are no longer trying to escape.

Getting proactive about tackling financial problems means one develops a ‘game plan’. This means positive action rather than negative inaction, which displaces the anxious feeling of helplessness. To develop a game plan, we involve the help and advice of others. In other words, we are no longer alone in the stress-inducing situation and are strengthened in a situation where we feel impotent and weak.

Jappreet Sethi

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