If words like "money," "finance," or "portfolio" cause you to break-out in a sweat, your heart to race, your blood-pressure to rise and your breathing to accelerate, you may be suffering from financial anxiety. Anxiety is part of our human nature’s “fight or flight” mechanism. Prolonged states of anxiety can cause physical as well as emotional distress and problems. The American Psychology Association released the results of a stress study in 2014 that concluded money issues are the second highest cause of stress in the United States.
Thankfully, there is a way out for those suffocating under the weight of financial worry – just say no! While we do need money in order to meet our financial obligations we are not to allow money or the lack of money to consume us.
Matthew 6:25 says,“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
I understand the above advice is much easier said than done. The financial downturn of the 2000’s left many people with less than stellar earnings portfolios and certainly increased financial worries. The great news is there are things you can do to reduce your financial anxiety and build your financial portfolio back up. To help you get started I am including a few tips below:
1. Recognize what you can and cannot control. For the most part, world events like war, terrorism, changes in government or leadership are out of your control. The same is true for issues such as the mishandling of corporate funds that may have occurred within an organization you worked for or invested in that impacted you negatively. You cannot control what you do not know. Hindsight may be 20/20, but sometimes looking back doesn’t help you walk forward.
2. Not every decision you make will, in the end, be the best decision. We all make mistakes. If you used your best judgment at the time, then you did the best you knew how to do. The only other option is to do nothing – and you may regret that decision even more. Don’t chastise yourself for missing the latest “big thing.” Remember, past performance is not a guarantee of future results!
3. Stick to your plan. Many investors make poor decisions at the wrong time based solely on emotion. When uncertainty and anxiety run high, that’s the time to get professional, trusted and objective advice. Trends that appear to change the face of investing as we know it, often wind up being just another blip in history.
4. Modify your plan as needed. Even the best plan should be periodically re-evaluated as the fundamentals may change. Think through modifications with the same care you employed when devising your initial plan.
5. Separate your financial situation from your self-esteem. Remember, money does not create identity in your life. Your personal value is not defined by a successful portfolio. Your portfolio can help provide the means for additional opportunities; more time with your family, donations to charities or having new experiences. Know, even without these things, your family and peers will love and value you just the same.
Fear is not always a bad thing - it can be a signal that change is needed. If you fear your current investments won’t provide adequate income in your retirement years this definitely signals a need for a more conservative approach. Ask a financial professional to help you put together and execute a financial plan that will help alleviate your anxiety.
Most importantly, have a stewardship mindset instead of taking ownership over your finances. When we submit to God and recognize He is the owner of everything, we come to understand, not only is God our provider, he is also the giver of a peaceful heart.
Guy Hatcher: The Legacy Guy® – is passionate about helping families plan their legacy. His book, Your Future Reflection: How to Leave a Legacy Beyond Money, is available at amazon.com. Follow him on twitter @guyhatcher or contact him at www.guyhatcher.com.
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Publication date: May 11, 2015