ABC7 On Your Side Report: Money on the Mind

March 16, 2009 9:23:55 PM PDT
According to a recent gallop poll, 40 percent of Americans are stressed about the economy. Some financial planners are responding by offering advice on not only monetary wealth but also mental health.

A volatile stock market, foreclosed homes and record job losses. They are all ingredients for an uncertain future.

The financial toll is challenging enough for some people but for others this depressed economy is also mentally and emotionally overwhelming.

Mary Jo and Bob Niehls know this feeling all too well. Bob worked 25 years at an automotive company until December 2007. He has been out work for the past 14 months until he recently took a position in a unrelated field.

"We were getting ourselves deeper in debt because some of the big ticket items, car repair had to go on the credit card," said Bob Niehls.

Bob says it got to the point where the Maple Park couple considered these options about their dream home.

"Are we going to let it go into foreclosure? Are we going to try to sell it and take a huge loss. We had all these things what we could sell to bring a dollar. That was our mindset before we met Matthew," said Bob Niehls.

Matthew is Matthew Saupaula a financial strategist and money manager who the Niehls credit with keeping them afloat financially during these tough economic times.

But Sapuala realized that his clients needed more than just the market statements and investment updates; they needed emotional support. So a year ago, he incorporated counseling as part of his services.

"We end up in this fetal position and we end up with blind spots so we need someone who is objective and it may not be the answer you want to hear but a word of guidance to get you out, moving and progressing," said Saupaula.

So bring in Dr. Ralph Whetstine.

Psychotherapist, professor and clinical psychologist, Whetstine is counseling the Niehls and using some of the principles from his teaching manual, "Getting Your Mind Right."

"There is a need for somebody with psychotherapeutic experience and psychological knowledge to come in and say, look let's work with the emotional stuff," said Dr. Whetstine.

Experts say there are ways to deal with the stress about money in the economy:

- Don't panic
- Refrain from getting caught up in the doom and gloom
- Identify financial stressors and make a plan including making a list on how you can reduce expenses
- Turn these challenging times into opportunities for real growth and change
- Find healthier and inexpensive ways to deal with stress like taking a walk.

"We've just been using our own talents," said Mary Jo Niehls.

As a result of their economic lifestyle changes the Niehls now make all their own food, including bread and pizza. Lunches are made every night and they use their skills to make repairs to the home. And they have started a new venture selling a healthy line of chocolate products.

Dr. Whetstine says that entrepreneurial spirit is an excellent coping mechanism.

"There is a need to embrace a kind of consciousness that will allow multiple streams of income to exist. One of the things Bob and Mary Jo have have embraced for instance is the looking for additional income," said Dr. Whetstine.

Experts suggest getting involved in something you are passionate about and volunteering if you are out of work.

More people became millionaires during the great depression than in any other time in American history. Financial experts say this is recession could be an opportunity to do the same.

For more information:

Matthew Sapaula
Financial Strategist, Chicago radio talk show host, national speaker and TV commentator
708.686.2000 x11

Ralph Whetstine
830 E Higgins Road
Suite 104F
Schaumberg, Il