Some warning signs are being unable to stop worrying or thinking about your finances or the economy, difficulty sleeping; the stress is interfering with your work or relationships (e.g., fighting with your spouse about money), or you are so stressed you are ignoring your financial situation.
Tips on how to deal with economic stress:
- Be clear on your current financial situation - Often in tough times, we want to stick out head in the sand and ignore our bills and financial status. Now more than ever, each of us needs to take responsibility for our financial situation. So it is time to get out your credit card bills and bank statements and take stock in what your actual financial picture is. With this knowledge we can each do our best to make smart, informed decisions for ourselves and our families in the current economic environment.
- Focus on what you can control -It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the things that our out of our control…the stock market, bank closures, and the bailout - It is very important to focus on what is in your control. For example: 1) your own spending and saving habits (do I really need to go out to lunch or buy that afternoon coffee every day; can I bike to work to save money on gas); 2) getting sound financial advice about your current financial situation; and 3) doing things that feel good such as exercising and seeking support from good friends or a mentor to manage your stress level.
- Focus on positive progress and avoid doomsday news - The news is rife with "doomsday" stories about the state of the economy. Sure, you want to stay informed about what is happening. At the same time obsessing over the latest economic news will only make you more stressed out and prevent you from focusing on the good things happening in your life and what you can do to improve your own financial situation.
- How to talk to your kids or NOT talk to your kids? Kids can sense when their parents are stressed about money and if they are older they may have actually heard about the difficult economic times. It is important to talk openly to them in a way that is age appropriate. For younger children, you can something to the effect of "Mommy and Daddy are a little worried about money but we are taking care of it and our family will be okay. For older children, "The economy is affecting lots of families and businesses and I am working hard to take care of our family and make sure we make smart choices about money. Hear your kids out if they have concerns and find out what they understand about the economy. This way you can create an open dialogue with your kids.