Financial stress is a normal part of life, and it's a rare person who can get through life without ever experiencing any money struggles at all.
For many Americans, though, stress over money is spilling over into other areas of their lives. New research shows that worrying about finances can lead to a host of mental and physical problems, and in some cases, it can even affect your career.
Financial stress affects more than just your finances
Forty-two percent of workers worry about money, according to a report from Salary Finance, and that financial stress can affect your entire life. Those who are worried about money are 11 times more likely to have trouble sleeping and 10 times more likely to struggle with finishing their daily tasks, the survey found.
Furthermore, these workers are also nine times more likely to let their money concerns affect their quality of work, nine times more likely to have difficult relationships with their co-workers, and twice as likely to be looking for a new job. Employers are feeling the struggle too, as these workers typically cost their companies more in recruitment, training, and lost productivity. Overall, stress about money costs an employer around 13% to 18% of a worker's salary, the report revealed.
If money stress at home is beginning to cause problems at work, it will be harder to get your financial situation under control. Especially if you end up losing your job as a result of the difficulties that stress can create, that may end up causing even more financial problems. Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce your stress and gain control over your situation before it escalates into something more harmful.
How to control stress so it doesn't control you
When you're worried about money, that stress can feel all-consuming. You may be feeling anxiety, losing sleep, and even letting it affect your job and relationships. But with a few lifestyle tweaks and adjustments in your mindset, you can ensure that you are in control of your stress -- not the other way around.
One way to manage financial worries is to set long-term goals. People who focus on their big-picture goals are more likely to feel that they are in control of their finances, according to a report from Capital One, and they're also more likely to develop healthy financial habits like writing down a budget and not spending their paycheck immediately.
Your long-term goals may include tasks like saving for retirement, establishing a healthy emergency fund, or paying off debt, for example. Once you have a goal in mind, consider what steps you need to take to achieve it. Break your goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks if they begin to feel overwhelming. For example, if thinking about saving for retirement is stressful, break it down into how much you need to save each month or each week. Saving a few dollars every week is much more manageable than saving hundreds of thousands of dollars or more by retirement age, and when your goal feels within reach, you're more likely to achieve it.
Another way to manage stress is to create a budget and do your best to stick to it. Although budgeting isn't fun (in fact, a quarter of Americans would rather get a cavity filled than prepare a yearly budget, according to a survey from Capital One), it is crucial if you want to gain full control over your finances. When you don't know exactly how much you're spending every month or where all your cash is going, it's easy to feel stressed. But when you start tracking your expenses and cutting back in areas where you're spending too much, you'll feel more in control of your money.
Stress can do a number on your finances, your career, and your mental and physical health. And the more out of control your money concerns become, the harder it can be to manage them. But by thinking about your long-term goals and sticking to a budget, you can keep your stress in check and improve your financial (and overall) health.