Money is pretty important. It provides us with options and it’s kind of ‘up there’ on the list of things we need every day, right next to oxygen. According to Canstar’s latest survey of over 3,500 people, most of us consider having money important in order to be happy in life.
But having money is not enough. Over 50% of people between 25 and 40 think dealing with money is stressful and overwhelming. Although that number is scary, I can fully relate to it. Here are three main reasons why:
- We don’t learn anything practical about money in school
- We don’t talk about money
- We’re forced to make money choices daily
Imagine, never learning anything about driving a car and someone forced you to sit behind the steering wheel and dropped you in the middle of a twelve-lane freeway traffic jam. You think you’d be stressed and overwhelmed?
If you want to start making positive changes to reduce the stress you feel every time you think of money, here are five handy tips:
Changing the way you perceive money and directing it to things you truly value in life will be fundamental to your stress levels. Most of the things we buy have zero impact on our long–term happiness. Just look at the smart-phone you’re holding while reading this article. How much of your hard earned income have you exchanged for it? Is it still making you happy today?
Think of the bigger things you’re aiming for in life – buying a home, living debt free life, having ability to travel, spending more time with your family, etc. Go through your priorities and make a list of them. Then look at the way you’re currently spending your money. It should reflect your priorities list.
2. Make money a discussion point
Problems with money (as any other problems) don’t simply go away if we stop looking at them. The more often you bring up the subject, the more likely you’re in position to learn how to process it and deal with it. But timing is critical. Choose the right time of the week when both you and your partner are in good mood and open to ideas. It?s also a good reason to seek professional financial advice and address the elephant in the room with a help of an objective third party.
3. Protect your plans
So many people I meet are so stressed about things they can do nothing about. Protecting your lifestyle by having a solid personal insurance portfolio is a great way to transfer that stress and risks to someone else – an insurance company. This way you’ll have a good plan B which you can design based on your values. Most quality cover can be organised through your super these days. The trick here is not to get complacent with the default cover you automatically get through you employer and do your homework instead.
4. Zoom in, zoom out
We tend to worry a lot. We inherit lots of these worries from our parents. The rest is served to us by the culture we live in on a daily basis – the markets, the interest rates, the breaking news, the crisis du jour. The remedy is to divide all your worries to two groups – the things that matter and things we can influence. Then re-gain your focus purely on things which fall into BOTH categories. Everything else is noise.
Some of the worries are so deeply engraved; it often takes ‘an intervention’ from a tough-loving but empathetic financial coach to break them. Seeking quality financial advice early in life generally helps to remove these bad habits early. Make sure your conversations with your trusted coach evolve mostly around how you perceive the world around you – your money behaviour.
5. Don’t aim for perfection
Many smart and successful people are very time poor. At the same time, they can be very particular about the way they make their money decisions. This naturally creates stress due to the complexity of financial decisions and the ready availability of information combined with a lack of time (and expertise). The result – they often choose doing nothing rather than risk getting things wrong.
Not knowing what to do shouldn’t be a reason to do nothing. Doing something is almost ALWAYS better than doing nothing. The introduction of subtle and simple changes can go a long way. Things can always be improved and looked at by a professional later on.
Most of the stress we have comes from uncertainties and fear of the unknown. Planning your life and introducing the above points to your thinking will not only provide you with a greater level of comfort but will also remove a lot of worries. A long time ago I saw a great quote ‘People who say that money can’t buy happiness just don’t know how to spend it’.