Emotional triggers and financial stress

financial stressFinancial stress is serious.  It was identified as the number one cause of stress in a 2009 study by the American Psychological Association. Financial stress is associated with increases in:

  • suicide attempts and suicide rates
  • physical illness
  • divorce rates
  • domestic violence
  • poor cognitive decisions.
  • (Financial stress is also associated with a decrease in productivity in the workplace.)

When people are in crisis, they may seek help and resources through community, military and faith-based programs.  The focus is often on addressing the immediate need for food, shelter, medical care and safety. But then what? People who have received help may then find themselves in a similar situation again even. This is true even if they had been lucky enough to receive training on financial management skills: how to budget, get out of debt, shop wisely and save. Knowledge, alone, may not be enough. Today there is more awareness that emotional money triggers have tremendous influence on our financial choices.

Recently there has been a lot of focus on understanding emotional triggers and how they influence financial behaviors. For example, a single mom works two jobs. She’s exhausted and feels guilty that a sitter is putting her kids to bed each night. She commits to saving $20 a week for an emergency fund. What are the emotional triggers that will sabotage her good intentions?

  • Will she slip because she spends impulsively and needs help with strategies to avoid or resist temptation?
  • Will she automatically give money to friends or family when they ask for help?  Then she may need to learn how to set priorities and say “no” or get some help with her fear of being rejected or hurt when she doesn’t please the person asking for the money.
  • Will she end up spending that money because her friends have different priorities and she doesn’t want to jeopardize her relationships by not joining them for a good time?  She may need counseling on self-esteem and speaking up.

Once we can help people identify their emotional triggers, we can help them find the right strategies to be prepared for the times their emotions will kick in. By helping them be prepared, they are more likely to be successful!

Money Habitudes cards will identify their emotional triggers and provide suggested activities if any Habitude is being overused.  The Professional Guide includes: (1) How to set SMART goals; (2) how to predict and overcome obstacles and (3) 67 Action Steps classified by the Habitudes they work for.