Employee Assistance Program Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 1

Financial Stress

The instability of the economy, the banks and the stock market are causing quite a bit of anxiety with many people, and rightfully so. With high gas prices and instability in the job market, it seems like there's no shortage of stressors to contribute to the already-stressful daily lives. As the number of people stressed about money increases, so may mental health problems like depression and it could also worsen pre-existing mental health issues.

One thing that makes large-scale stressors, like the current economic situation, difficult to deal with, is that people feel that they have little control in these situations. These are major changes where individuals feel that they have little power to alter their own fate.

There is, however, hope and ways to cope with economic stress by taking steps to deal with the issue and to explore solutions.

The truth is, we often can't control our circumstances as much as we can control our responses to them.

Tips for dealing with financial pressures:

  • Relax and put a plan in place. It's a good way to reduce stress.
  • Prioritize. A lot of people make a mistake of pushing aside home issues because of mounting credit-card debts.
  • Be mindful of spending. Separate wants from needs.
  • Seek assistance from a professional.

For many, the signs of increased stress may be eating poorly, engaging in excessive shopping, feeling more tired than usual, napping excessively, returning to smoking, increasing alcohol consumption, experiencing shortness of breath, increase in headaches, short temperedness and difficulty sleeping. Everyone reacts to stress differently and there is no list that holds true for every person.

  • Understanding credit
  • Bankruptcy
  • Budgeting
  • Savings and chequing
  • Cutting car costs
  • Credit cards
  • Smart shopping
  • Surviving the holidays
  • Consolidated loans
  • Repairing credit
  • Refinancing
  • Lines of credit

Danger Signals of Credit Card Debt

  1. Your credit cards are maxed out and you're only sending in the minimum payment. Failing to settle your bill in full can lead to whopping interest charges.
  2. An increasing amount of income goes to paying your debts. Only 10 - 15% of take-home pay should be spent on credit debt.
  3. You're using one card to pay off another. Don't fool yourself into thinking you are squaring away your debts. All you're doing is borrowing more money.
  4. Bills are paid with money that was intended for other things.
  5. Money is borrowed or credit cards are being used to pay for items which used to be bought with cash.
  6. Savings are used to pay current bills.

It is possible to reduce financial stress by learning how to live within our means. There are many educational resources in our communities with the goal of providing financial services to advance personal financial literacy. The services available from community organizations vary, however, most include education and support in the areas of:

  • Housing 25%
  • Savings 15%
  • Transportation 15%
  • Utilities 10%
  • Food 10%
  • Clothing 5%
  • Medical/Health 5%
  • Personal 5%
  • Entertainment 5%
  • Debts 5%

Budgeting can be a scary word for some, but without it, accounting for finances is impossible. Tracking monthly (rent, car payments, insurance, etc.) and daily expenses (coffee, newspaper, lunch, incidentals) are key to establishing plans and priorities. The following suggested percentages for spending can be a baseline for comparing expenses.

Your EAP provides counselling services for both psychosocial aspects as well as practical facets that may need to be addressed. Family conflicts related to money concerns are common and often require practical support such as the resources mentioned above. However, financial issues are frequently linked to control, resistance and anger within the context of the family relationships. Employee Assistance Services' solution-focused approach will ensure that appropriate assistance is available to you so that you feel fully supported.

For a confidential consultation, call your Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-268-7708 or for the hearing impaired at 1-800-567-5803, 24 hours a day.
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