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Coping with financial stress.


“Hey Caitlin! Want to do lunch today?” Normally, this would be an invitation of joy, a moment to get out of the office and socialize with the team I love. Unfortunately, I have made some poor financial decisions in the past and am paying for those decisions now as I respond, “Oh, I’m just going to make a sandwich. Have fun!” As the girls leave the office and I can hear them laughing and having a great time all the way to the elevator.

My early 20’s were filled with great vacations, recklessness – and not thinking about the consequences of credit cards or interest rates. “28%? Oh, no big deal.” “8% on my car loan, that’s fine.” Well, now I know why my dad always told me to save, don’t use credit cards, and be financially responsible. When we are young, we don’t always think about the consequences, or maybe you are a single mother and just trying to get by. Whichever way someone got into a financial bind, dealing with the stress in getting out of it can be a challenge.

The first step to de-stressing is to come up with a game plan. Figure out your budget! It’s all about baby steps. Instead of giving yourself a weekly or a monthly spending budget, start with a daily allowance and stick to it. If you go under your daily budget, add it to savings! Once you are on your way to being back on track, it still can take years to really relieve the stress and reach your goal. This can lead to sleeplessness, high blood pressure, anxiety, or can even turn to other behaviors like gambling or alcohol.

De-stress in healthy ways. Exercise is one of the leading and most effective ways to de-stress. Whether you are walking a mile/day or running a marathon, exercise releases endorphins and makes you healthier. Keeping active with hobbies, socializing with friends, or learning new things keeps the mind active and allows one not to dwell on stressful barriers. Sharing stories with people who have similar stresses or writing down all of your stresses before you go to sleep are also great activities. But most importantly, get your finances in order – you’ll sleep better, avoid future health problems and nix the anxiety that financial stress can cause.