A symptom of “financial stress” is the inability to raise a moderate sum of money to deal with an emergency of the kind created by the need to pay an unexpected bill. The actual emotional turmoil in reality is often far less clear cut.
Over the past decade we have been encouraged to spend rather than save, enticed with low interest (for a few months!) credit cards in an era when cash is uncool. Wealth not leading to happiness is generally acknowledged by all but has been paid lip service to by many.
Now things feel less certain, our spending has caught up with us, and the real perils of exuberant credit are becoming all too clear. Maybe the price we paid for assets was way beyond their current value in the face of the basic costs of living that are unnervingly rising.
The Downward Spiral?
Financial stress is common during tough times, and isn’t simply reserved for those forced into frugality because of a lost job, divorce, death, or being over your head in debt, etc. The pressure of financial stress can lead to feelings of insecurity, fear, anxiety, anger, and of course, depression.
These feelings can inevitably have the knock-on effect of encouraging poorer money management decisions. These poor decisions simply add to the downward spiral whereby one takes on even greater debt, and start a vicious cycle of fear, anxiety, and panic that never seems to end.
If you recognize any of the above traits in yourself, you are not alone and there’s no time like the present to get help.
Speak with a friend, your doctor, a colleague, a debt counselor, or anyone whose opinion you trust and advise you value. The most important thing of course is that doing something is a sure fire better thing than doing nothing. When you have problems, be they financial, family, legal, whatever, it usually doesn’t take very long for you to realise who really cares about you.
These people will be the ones who support you in your time of need, offer encouragement, and lend an ear so you can just talk.
And on the flip side, if you believe someone close to you is exhibiting any of the signs just mentioned, reach your hand out for them.
The Good News
Quite simply, the good news is that there is some good news: you do not have to wait until hopelessness and helplessness are overwhelming.
If you can spare a moment to sit down, face some hard truths with the perspective they deserve, you are halfway there already: evidence clearly shows that those who document their situation, examine their true lifestyle requirements and establish where they want to head in the future, will ultimately act and begin to move in a positive direction by making informed choices.
With just a little guidance, perseverance and commitment, regardless of how long the haul and the nasty little surprises that will inevitably pop up, don’t lose the assurance that you are certainly on the right road.
Quite simply, believe in yourself: you can do what needs to be done and come out of what may initially appear as dire circumstances with a new outlook, new skills, and best of all, a new feeling of self-esteem.
First Thing’s First: Set Priorities
The health of you and your loved ones is always the number one priority. Don’t lose sight of this. And, simply by looking after yourself, you are taking care of a job that otherwise would inevitably fall on your loved ones. By taking this approach, everyone is focused and you set an amazing example to everyone around you. It is surprising how comforting this basic knowledge is.
The Next Steps
Now, prepare yourself: think of circumstances you have faced in the past, and potential future ones that could pop up.
Make the decision now to learn how to cope, to make the changes you can and must, to stay focused and goal-oriented, and to let anxiety and financial stress fade away as they are ultimately emotions that, whilst understandable, only complicate the actual situation.
Put simply, “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” add no value to your situation. As the saying goes “accept the things you cannot change, recognise the things that you can change, and embrace the wisdom to know the difference.”
Balance and Perspective
The Marquette Turner team and indeed myself are certainly not financial or emotional counsellors, but we know one or two things about the issues I’ve just spoken about.
Depression is a medical condition and is something that is treatable and is slowly losing the unwarranted stigma thanks to work by Australian organisations such as Beyond Blue. Have a quick look at their website: it may prove to be an extremely rewarding first step.
Good luck, and remember that you’re not alone and there’s plenty of help, hope and opportunity.