How Do You Deal with Financial Stress?

No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it.

~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

I’ve been pretty stressed out lately over our impending move and all of the uncertainties surrounding it. In fact, I went down for the count last week with some kind of flu virus that was, I’m pretty sure, not unrelated to the recent upheaval in our lives. I’m sure a lot of people would deal with this stuff a lot better than me, but I’ve never been a person who enjoys sudden changes. I need time to digest things.

Just to give you a quick update, we’re planning to move to a new town about two and a half to three hours away. We were going to build a new home with hopes of moving in before school starts in September. We’ve been going back and forth with the builder’s real estate agent for about a month now with various house plans.

We were taking up a lot of our time with the planning and the real estate agent was often slow to respond. We were becoming more stressed out about the deadline and the prospect of making the thousands of decisions involved in building a new home – all while we’re trying to get a new job/business off the ground.

Boiling Point

When  I got sick last week, that put even more pressure on Mr. Cents to take care of things regarding the new house and the new job, not to mention all of the regular tasks related to running a household that I normally handle. He was great, putting together some impromptu meals for the boys and doing what he could to help with the laundry and other tasks. I felt terrible knowing that he really didn’t need any more stress at the time.

Both of us are pretty organized people who like to have a grip on how our lives turn out. Building a new home in another city is not conducive to that. So we decided to scrap that idea and look at the resale market. We drove to the new town on Friday to look at a few homes and unexpectedly found one that didn’t exactly fit our parameters, but would be an excellent, functional home.

We ended up putting in an offer on that house the same day, but found out the next evening that another offer was successful instead. So now it’s back to the drawing board. We recently started joking about becoming homeless. That was the boiling point. At that moment, I realized that my stress level had moved way out of line with reality.

Homeless? That’s ridiculous. Technically, we don’t have to move now. If we needed to wait a year, we could do that. In the meantime, we are living in a home we love. The mortgage will be paid off by the end of the year. The kids would rather not have it drag out that long, but if we can’t find the right house, we may not have a choice.

Lessons Learned

We feel a little more relieved now that we’ve decided not to build a new house, although I’d be lying if I told you my stomach isn’t still full of butterflies. Still, I’ve learned a lot from this experience so far and I’m amazed at how life often teaches us the same lessons over and over again – or maybe I’m just a slow learner. 😉

Here are a few ways to handle financial stress:

  • Know Yourself: Everyone deals with stress differently. My husband and I are kind of control freaks, so we eliminated some of the uncertainties of our situation by electing to buy an existing home rather than building a new one. Others might relish the thought of choosing every detail of a new home, but we’ve done it before and we just aren’t up for tackling it again, even if it means compromising on some of the items on our wish list.
  • Take a Deep Breath: It’s so easy to get wrapped up in trying to make sure everything turns out perfectly. Sometimes it’s better to back off and let things play out. You can be prepared without being obsessed.
  • Put Things in Perspective: How serious is your situation? What’s the worst case scenario? Is it as bad as you thought it was? Be realistic about your financial conditions.
  • Act, but Don’t Overreact: If you find yourself worrying about your finances, it’s important to formulate and act on a plan to eliminate your concerns. If you allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the situation (as I did) you can become paralyzed. Take it one step at a time and do your best to control what you can. Keep a few alternate plans in your pocket as well. Anything can happen.
  • Be Patient: You can be prepared, but you can’t control everything. Sometimes you just have to wait to see how things progress. In the meantime, pressing the panic button at 30 second intervals won’t help anyone.

Wow. That sounds like pretty good advice. Now if only I could get myself to follow it!

How do you handle financial stress?

Written by Kim Petch

10 Responses to How Do You Deal with Financial Stress?

  1. I think that patience is definitely the key to dealing with stress. Nothing is ever as important as it seems when looked at a day or a week (or a year) later. My wife is stressed beyond belief right now that we won’t be able to sell our house and that we will lose the new house we are building. She just can’t picture us in the new house until this one sells, which is understandable but it’s been on the market for just under a month and we don’t take possession of the new house until August 1st.

    I’ll pass your advice on to her, but sometimes people just need to deal with stress in their own way.

    • I can really sympathize with your wife. She probably won’t really feel better until your house is sold. It sounds like you have some time, though, and you never know when the right buyer will come along. Springtime often brings a little more activity in the real estate market. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  2. Wow, sounds like an investing strategy to me – Know yourself, Don’t obsess, Put things into perspective, and Be patient! The only thing I would add is Define a vision. Focussing on the what, can be a little less stressful than focussing on the how. Somebody once said there is only one way in which everything can be perfect, and many ways for things to be less so. Personally, I prefer possibility to perfection. As difficult as this may seem from time to time, I’m willing to bet you will manage things just fine!

    • Ha! I was thinking the same thing when I wrote this Ian. For the record, I’m not all that great at following this advice in the investment realm either. I’m sure things will turn out OK as long as we take our time. For now, we’re going to concentrate on getting the business going and let the real estate issue rest until a new listing pops up.

      Thanks for your comments!

  3. I very much share that trait of needing to take time to digest things before I can accept them. I also obsess over details until I feel 100 percent comfortable with a decision. The good side of having this personalty type (at least for me) is that when I do get to a point where I am comfortable with a decision, I am able to make it and then let it go. I don’t look backward with regret because I know that I considered all angles before I acted. You’re not there today. But I think you’ll get there. So just try to balance the proper anxiety you feel today with an understanding that you will find your way to a good place in time.

    This is what makes you the Balance Junkie!


    • To be honest, I haven’t felt much like a Balance Junkie over the past few weeks. It’s like someone kicked the fulcrum out from under me. But I’ve had some time to digest this now, and I feel like I’m ready for anything. In fact, I feel a little stronger each day.

      It sounds like we handle big decisions in the same way. Once I make an informed choice, I don’t look back because I’m confident I’ve done the best I can. It’s a huge relief not to have to think about building a new home. Now we’re content to wait.

      Thanks Rob!

  4. I really need to print out those five little tips and slip them into my financial folder. I handle stress relatively well, but when I’m sick, all reason flies right out the window. LOL

    • Getting sick can often be a hint that you’re a little stressed out. It’s a good cue to take a break and regroup.

      Thanks for stopping by Jessica!

  5. Financial stress is certainly a high pressure factor. It’s certainly not easy to handle risk if there are no proper tools to combat risk and stress. As a common man to avoid the feeling of being financially choked, proper planning of finances is the need of the hour. Thanks for sharing your experience and the thoughts about handling financial stress.

  6. I spend most of my time reading books and staying on silent places. It’s effective I guess it’s my greatest stress reliever and secret that even up to this day I still stand out and prove that stress won’t let me down.

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