Money is a currency we agree on universally and use daily to meet some of our basic needs. It has a powerful effect on our lives both in the stress it causes and in the joy it can bring.
We have come to believe that money is the solution to all our problems. Crime happens mostly as a result of too little money or too much greed. When we think about the future and what we want, most people say they want more money. They dream about the cars they would buy, the vacations they'll be able to go on, and the luxury money can afford them...if only they had more of it.
The 2014 Stress in America survey collected information from over 3,000 adults on behalf of the American Psychological Association. It found that "72 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time during the past month." There are a number of reasons for why that is.
Money & Health:
A lack of financial means can affect our health and can even be a matter of life or death. In fact, "12 percent of Americans skipped going to the doctor when they needed health care because of financial concerns." Just last week, a teacher in Texas who was unable to afford treatment for the flu ended up dead.
The theme of security lies in the #RootChakra and can affect the physical body. Financial insecurity can lead to lower back pain as well as pain or tension in any part of the lower half of our bodies.
Money & Relationships:
According to the 2014 survey, 31 percent of adults reported that money is one of the main sources of stress in their relationship. As a nation, our spending has led to increased debt especially with access to credit cards. Over the past 60 years, the average American debt has risen from $4000 to nearly 34 times that number.
There is a greater divide between the poor and the wealthy. Incomes for the top 0.001 percent richest Americans surged 636 percent between 1980 and 2014 while for Middle America incomes have increased by only 40 percent. When you take into account the significant increase in cost of living over the past few decades, it is understandable why so many Americans are struggling to keep up and why money is a major stressor between couples.
Money & Happiness:
It comes as no surprise that lack of financial means can lead to unhappiness. It is stressful to see your bills piling up and not have enough money to make it through the month. It is stressful to work overtime and miss out on living life outside of work. According to associate professor of psychology, Christie Scollon, we should be striving to make $75,000 a year. Anything more than that does not make us happier. That being said, if you make less than that amount you may be experiencing a negative impact on your emotional well-being. The two biggest benefits to having money, according to Scollon, is the flexibility it gives you in how you spend your time and the resources it can afford you (i.e., cleaner drinking water, nicer clothes).
Scollon points to a paradox. It seems that "wanting money" brings on negative outcomes like stress, but "having money" improves the quality of life. Research has shown that when we spend our money on experiences and on other people rather than on material possessions for ourselves, we are happiest.
Conclusions and Recommendations:
Money is often the biggest stressor in our daily lives. It affects our health, relationships, and happiness. As a result, it is imperative that we take the right steps to ensure our well-being:
1. Establish an anti-stress routine. This can include regular exercise, relaxation, and social support. Meditate daily to get in touch with yourself. This will help you feel less scattered and more grounded.
2. Ensure that you focus on paying down your debt and curbing your spending. Use the debt repayment calculator to figure out how long it will take you to eliminate money owed. Create a budget for your spending and track everything to ensure you are living within your means.
3. Focus on creating work-life balance. When we engage in activities that are fulfilling for us, we feel less of a void or a need to fill the void with material possessions. Surround yourself with meaningful experiences and relationships and you'll feel better and have more money in your pocket.
4. If you need support along the way, consider building a team. Work with a financial planner to establish financial goals for your future. If you're a business owner, work with a bookkeeper. And if you want emotional support to help you overcome self-sabotaging patterns that keep you stuck, consider working with a life coach or therapist.
5. For a DIY version to transform your relationship to money, see the excellent book by Maria Nemeth, The Energy of Money. And stay tuned for the release of the online course How to Balance Your Root Chakra and Overcome Your Fears which includes information about the fear of money and how to overcome back pain.
Make this year less stressful. Build the means to enjoy your life. Focus on what really matters. Change negative habits to maintain your results.