Managing Post-Holiday Financial Stress

The New Year often brings post-holiday financial stress, which can directly impact our physical and mental wellbeing. In fact, the body’s natural response to stress is an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, along with suppressed memory and concentration — the last thing anyone needs while trying to manage a budget. Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to remedy monetary problems and improve your overall health.

Take A Step Back

In order to effectively address financial problems, it’s important to keep a level head and evaluate your current situation. Consider the following:

  • Track spending habits: impulse buys, holiday purchases, fixed expenses, etc.
  • Categorize previous spending in terms of wants versus needs—asking yourself, what purchases could have been avoided?
  • Evaluate upcoming bills and other necessary costs, ensuring that you are presently able to live within your means.

Find A Solution

Once you’ve taken a step back, it’s time to move forward. Hopefully, this time, with a better idea of where spending habits can change and what can be done to avoid future financial troubles.

  • Set financial goals, focusing on what changes you hope to make in the next week, month, year and so on.
  • Create a budget that covers needs before wants. In some cases, reaching out to a financial planner or banker can help expedite budgeting decisions.
  • Learn from the past. If you noticed poor spending habits looking back, focus on what can be done to avoid those moving forward.
  • Look for opportunities to save, such as setting up an automatic savings or retirement plan.  Take advantage of employer matching funds for retirement savings plans.
  • Start an emergency fund to save for future fixed expenses and/or unexpected costs.

Take Control of Your Health

Ignoring a stressful financial situation tends to make matters worse, not only financially, but in terms of health. The long-term consequences of chronic stress may include: depression/anxiety, physical symptoms such as pain and a higher risk of chronic conditions and heart disease.

  • Reach out to a friend or family member for support, advice and/or guidance.
  • Make time for rest, regular exercise and a healthy diet.
  • Pay attention to signs of poor physical and mental health, which may include: fatigue, persistent headaches, chest pain, upset stomach, lack of interest/motivation, isolation and/or frequent colds/illness.
  • Consider seeing your primary care physician or behavioral health professional if symptoms persist or worsen.

Photo Credit: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

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