A recently-released survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (with the assistance of Harris Poll) reveals that money remains the principal source of stress for Americans. What makes this especially troubling is that the economy has supposedly improved mightily over the course of the last few years, and yet money woes remain paramount. While it is fair to question how much, or even if, the economy has truly improved, one of the complicating factors to resolving this kind of stress has to do with the ideas about life, and how to live, that individual Americans use to guide their own choices. Accordingly, an important step that people can themselves take in the effort to reduce financial stress, without being as dependent on waiting for a healthy economy to do the trick, is to engage in reprioritization and “de-materialization” such that the total uncluttering yields wonderful dividends in terms of personal financial health and savings.
The only way to truly neutralize financial stress is to make the antagonists to your financial stability disappear. Most people plagued by money worries can do a much better job than they think at improving their situations, but are reluctant to do so because the process involves making big changes, like downsizing homes, cars, moving to places with better job opportunities, and otherwise making the sacrifices and doing the heavy lifting necessary to ensure that inflow exceeds outflow each month by a comfortable margin. That’s really it; all the therapy and emotional support in the world are not going to change the mathematics that, in the end, controls your situation. Stress is not best dealt with by somehow coming to a place where one feels better about the stress, and learns to live with it – it is resolved by ridding yourself of it, however you need to.
Think, for a moment, about the best way to deal with people who serve as a chronic source of stress; do you simply learn to live with them? You might, but is that the best way to solve the problem? No; the best way is to just cut ‘em loose. Admittedly, this can be a distinct challenge when the toxic folks happen to be family members, but the truth is that, family or not, “poisonous” people have to be fully exorcised from your life in order for you to be truly happy and high-functioning.
Although you deal with financial stresses in a somewhat different manner, the point is that they will not go away until drastic measures are taken to fix the underlying, root causes. To that end, “doing the best you can” may now, in addition to being defined as continuing to try to earn as much as you can, include engaging in a process of simplifying your life such that you are able to put as much positive distance as possible between what you make and what you spend – honest self-evaluation will likely lead you to realize that a lot of the “stuff” you consider to be important is really not important at all, and can easily be done without. Whether you ultimately go that route is up to you, but the data regarding personal financial stress noted by the APA stands tall, especially when one recognizes that the “macro” condition of America’s economy is not going to change anytime soon.
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