Stress often has deep roots

Certified financial planners say many of their clients get stressed about money, whether they make $45,000 a year or $450,000. Even their high-net worth clients fret their bank account balances are still too low or that they’re not using their money the correct ways.

And it turns out people come by these anxieties honestly — sorry mom and dad, this problem’s been traced back to you.

A Meridian Credit Union survey found that 55% of people say their childhood experiences with money still impact them to this day.

And 42% report those early experiences have led to them feeling anxious and worried about money as adults.

Fortunately for those willing to work on it, this heavy inheritance doesn’t have to be something you carry forever.

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Finding the right emotional balance

A survey from FP Canada reveals that nearly two in five Canadians identify money as their biggest stressor. And 51% shared that they’ve lost sleep over their financial woes.

Financial stress can feel deeply emotional. And it can lead to side effects that reach well beyond your bank account.

When you’re living with financial stress, you’re twice as likely to report poor overall health, four times more likely to report sleeping issues and headaches and more likely to have strained personal relationships, according to data compiled by the Financial Protection Agency of Canada.

It can also lead to more serious health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

However, an emotional connection to money doesn’t always have to be bad.

“There’s no way to take emotion out of it,” says Ryan Gubic, a certified financial planner and founder of MRG Wealth Management in Calgary.

Gubic stresses that money is just a medium to accomplish the things you want. Anxiety can paralyze people. You may know what you should be doing, but getting there can feel impossible.

And so Gubic says his clients have to connect with their financial plans emotionally to fully buy into them.

Anxiety doesn’t have to be limiting

As part of her services, Brookhouse offers her clients a money mindset course. The course helps bring thoughts about money from an unconscious to a conscious level, helping people begin the process of working through their financial hang-ups.

If someone has experienced trauma or if their anxieties run much deeper, Brookhouse says she’ll refer clients to a professional to help them tackle those underlying issues.

Otherwise, many issues can be handled by taking choice out of the equation, especially for someone who may freeze up when faced with the need to make a choice. By automating their savings or debt payments, Brookhouse ensures her clients are able to meet their financial goals without having to unpack all their anxieties first.

“It just takes it out of their hands … and makes it so easy for them,” says Brookhouse.

For his part, Gubic sees financial planning as a lifelong pursuit. Your income and expenses will change over your life and so getting comfortable with revisiting your plan regularly will ensure your plan reflects your reality — which will hopefully reduce your overall financial anxiety.

As for those who still feel the stress, Gubic urges his anxious clients to remember that there are two spheres of life: the things you can control and the things you can’t.

“Instead of putting your emotional energy, time and resources into the bucket that you have no control over — which a lot of people do — put that time, energy and [your] emotional resources into the items you do have control over.”

Just making that subtle shift can have a significant impact.

“People are generally more relaxed, happier, confident,” says Gubic. “And in terms of actual financial planning, you can actually see people progress towards their goals quicker.”


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Sigrid Forberg Associate Editor

Sigrid’s is's associate editor, and she has also worked as a reporter and staff writer on the team.

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