Stress and money matters: finding financial balance

In normal times, financial issues usually top the list of concerns that keep people up at night. In this period of economic upheaval and uncertainty, it’s taken on a whole new level of stress for many.

The anxiety we are feeling is not just in our minds. There is significant anecdotal evidence which connects our worries about money and its effects on our physical health. Chiropractors report a connection between back pain and other aches and financial problems, perhaps as the result of increased muscle tension.

Then there’s the emotional toll. Impulse purchases, shared banking accounts, differing views of what constitutes a sound budget -- all of these contribute to friction in relationships. Not surprisingly, psychologists cite arguments over money as a primary factor in divorces.

Normal clashes about money can get further exacerbated during this time of stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why extra care and attention are needed to keep opposing viewpoints from spiraling into larger quarrels.

The keys to remedying the conflicts related to finances are effective communications, flexibility and finding an agreeable budget which works for both parties.

Keep the following tips in mind to help you rethink and restructure your financial habits to adapt to this economic climate as well as better communicate with your partner to reduce tension and fighting:

  • Create a strict budget that meets your needs while enabling you to still save a some of your income. List your debts and assets, and track your daily spending for a month. You should plan for any expenses you know are upcoming.
  • Communicate about finances on a regular basis. Discuss money matters when neither person is upset. A calm conversation offers a better chance of resolving any issues.
  • Keep a list of your financial priorities and what is valuable to you. Have your partner do the same.
  • Listen to your partner’s viewpoints, even if you do not agree with them.
  • Consult a professional. This could be a financial professional or a therapist who specializes in couples therapy. Outside input can be invaluable.
  • Keep your faith in your relationship. Money issues do not make you incompatible as a couple, you simply need to find the flexibility necessary for agreement.
  • Do not spend what you do not have. Trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” with a fancy car or big house doesn’t bring happiness if financial stress is constantly behind closed doors.

Keep in mind that money means different things to different people: power, security, love and comfort are just a few. Out of these meanings is where conflicts arise. If someone sees money as power, their nature may be to spend it as a way to attempt to impress others, while someone who views money as security may tend to be more frugal.

Some people may feel criticized if their spending or saving habits are different from their partner's habits. Understanding and accepting each other’s differences is the first step to resolving money-related arguments.

Source: Financial Resource Resilience Guide, ComPsych Corp.

GE-3051724  (04/2020) (Exp. 04/2022)