Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms

“…the upside of painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of blissful ignorance.”― Sheryl Sandberg

Do you ever get that nagging feeling that something isn’t right with your finances? Should you brush it off or dive deeper? On the blog today, my fellow planner Cyrus Purnell, CFP writes an intriguing guest post about the importance of not ignoring your financial symptoms:

Are you getting that nudge that things are not working the way they should in your finances? Don’t wait until a problem shows in your credit report or as a shortage in your checking account. Take the time now to diagnose where that nagging feeling is coming from.

I came into 2016 not feeling my best. I was tired all of the time. I was always cranky. My kids were walking on eggshells. I was sick more often.

I went in for my annual physical and there was no sign of anything wrong in all of my tests. But the way I felt told me something was wrong. When I would talk to my doctor and peers about it, their answer was pretty simple, “Oh Cyrus, you are just getting older.”

Thankfully, that answer was not good enough for me. I took steps to investigate why I was not feeling well. I began looking into everything from what I was eating to what time of day I was eating it. I started tracking my sleep. I plunged into reading blogs and listening to podcasts about health.

I finally figured out the culprits and gradually felt several years younger. I am convinced that if I stayed on the road I was on, the way I felt would eventually show up in the form of a bad diagnosis. While I did not enjoy feeling the way I was feeling, the discomfort probably saved me a lifetime of issues.

On paper, you may not be financially sick. Your income may be more than your bills, your credit score may qualify you for anything you want to purchase and when you compare your financial situation with your friends and family, your circumstances may look fine. In spite of all of this, you may still have anxiety about where you are financially. You may be experiencing financial stress.

In our own 2016 Financial Stress Research, we uncovered that 85% of us are experiencing some financial stress. Our research also showed that unmanaged financial stress can result in problems like depression, hours of lost sleep, and overeating. It is at the onset of financial stress, before it becomes unmanageable, that you want to take steps to do something about it. You can start to alleviate financial stress by taking a C.A.L.M.™ approach to cash management:

Create a plan. Create a new plan to manage your cash, calculating necessary expenses and establishing a way to track them. A financial coach, such as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, a financial or credit counselor, or an employee assistance program counselor, can provide assistance as needed.

Automate bill payment and savings. Put everything you can on autopilot, setting up automatic bill payments for monthly expenses and transfers to emergency and other savings.

Lower nonessential spending and debt. Track expenses for several months, looking for opportunities to reduce spending on nonessential items and to make extra payments on debt.

Make progress. Make progress by focusing on small, achievable goals, accomplishing one before moving on to the next.

Don’t ignore your symptoms. Look at the early stages of financial stress as a gift. By paying attention to the early discomfort of financial stress and following the C.A.L.M. approach, you can meet the source of your financial stress head on and save yourself from a more difficult recovery down the line.

Do you have a question you’d like answered on the blog? Please email me at [email protected]. You can follow me on the blog by signing up here and on Twitter at @cynthiameyer_FF.


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