For many of us, it truly feels like having more money is the answer to all of our problems. We spend a lot of time thinking ‘if only I had more money our lives would be perfect.’ And yet most of us also realize on a deeper level that money is not the cure all to all of our problems. Having more money cannot be the solution to everything. While it could make things a lot easier – it certainly is NOT a no fail prescription for happiness.
The stress of being broke, of not having enough money – of robbing Peter to pay Paul is a familiar stress for many people. In fact, according to statistics around 81% of the North American population wishes that they had more monthly income and feel a massive amount of stress in their life because they feel they don’t have enough money. Suffice it to say that very few of us are living a life that resembles Donald Trumps.
A report from the sociology department at the University of California reports that only around 1% of the world population is considered wealthy based upon a calculation of net assets versus debts. In the Untied States, around 10% of the population lives greatly above the median level and a vast majority of people (almost 49%) are classified in the low-income range. Essentially, being rich and having an exuberant amount of money is a pipe dream, and while wealth is often portrayed in the mainstream media, the truth is in ‘real life’ – it rarely happens. So if you feel stressed because you are broke, or don’t have enough money, you are definitely NOT alone.
According to an expert from Money Magazine however – it is not the lack of money that causes the stress, but the lack of the solution to the problem of not having enough money, that causes stress.
In other words, we are not upset because we cannot pay our electric bill on time, but rather because we don’t know how to get out of the cycle. With most people living paycheck to paycheck, many people are forced to think about how to spend their weekly stipends and are in a continuous cycle of financial stress. It is the cycle, the constant nagging feelings of never having enough that many sociologists feel account for the stress that people feel. According to the iconic book Think and Grow Rich, it is also these thoughts and frustrations that perpetuate our cycles of poverty.
In order to circumvent this stress, people are advised to take some proactive measures to reduce their stress. The first and perhaps most important lesson to be learned from your anxiety about money is that while you may not be able to control how much money you make every week and how much your bills are, but you can most definitely control how you feel about it.
This may seem insane to some. But the theory is that rather than fret about your utility bill or car payment, try to find a way to be grateful that you have it. Be thankful that you spend $200 on groceries to feed your family rather than resentful that you couldn’t afford the steaks. At the end of the week when you wish you had more money, find a way to be grateful that you paid your bills and that the lights in your home are still on and that you have food on the table and gas in the car. This helps to develop a healthy respect for money, and also helps people to put a value on living well. Sure, you may not have as much as your neighbor or brother in law, but if you are making ends meet (no matter how creatively), you should learn to appreciate your efforts and be thankful for the money that you do have.
The next step is to have a plan in place to help solve the seemingly never-ending money stress problem. Start a small weekly savings until you build up enough to really see a difference. Many people, who say they cannot save any money, spend $5 a week on something menial or unnecessary. Look for ways that you can save money on your monthly bills and grocery expenses. Learn to coupon. Start a job search for a second job that you can do from home. See if you have any items that you can sell. Having a plan for those times when money seems to be your enemy can take some of the stress out of the situation. And, when you realize that you are able to craft solutions to your money problems as they arise, you will develop more fiscal confidence.
Additionally, take a look at your life and sustainability and try to assess your needs versus wants. Are you meeting your basic needs? If so, then you need to cut yourself slack and try to lower your personal levels of expectations. Sure, it would be great to take a vacation to Disneyland or purchase a new car. But if you are stressing about things in life that aren’t really necessities, or precursors for happiness – you are wasting your time. There is nothing wrong with wanting more. But wanting more and feeling angry or stressful because the ‘more’ isn’t magically appearing at the snap of your fingers is an unhealthy and STRESSFUL way to live.
Sure. Money can be an issue in our lives. Money and the lack thereof can and does cause stress. For most regular folks, this is something that will cause worry and frustration. The power to not allow the stress over money however is something that you and you alone can control. Chances are if you are reading this, you have much more going for you in your life than against. And while more money may seem like the best solution for all your problems and woes, chances are even with more money, you would still have problems. The one thing you can choose every day regardless of what is going on is happiness.