Dealing with Financial Stress

For many people, money is a major cause of stress. The details of each person’s situation may vary, but most people know what it’s like to feel anxious about money.

For some people, the daily challenge of earning enough money to pay a given week’s bills is the biggest source of financial stress.

Others feel financial stress because they are unemployed or in jobs that they dislike and are trying to save money for retirement.

In some families, people argue constantly about how to spend the money they have, who controls it, and how to earn more. These stresses cause marital conflict and are very often a factor in divorce.


People who feel financial stress tend to be in worse health than those who are in control of their finances. Financial stress can result in insomnia, mood disorders, inability to concentrate, and cardiac problems.

Warning signs that point to current or future financial stress include the following:


  1. Finding it nearly impossible to meet basic financial agreements
  3. Living from one paycheck to the next
  5. Being confused about your financial circumstances, such as being unaware of monthly expenses, account balances, and other financial obligations
  7. Being in constant financial crisis, such as bouncing checks, making only the minimum payment each month on a credit card, or using one credit card to pay another
  9. Having a pattern of taking personal risks, such as by letting health and car insurance coverage lapse because you lack money
  11. Focusing on today and ignoring tomorrow—such as lacking a plan for retirement savings, or not budgeting for inevitable expense payments like taxes and car insurance—and feeling surprised when these expenses are due
  13. Spending compulsively , such as buying things– even if you don’t need them simply because they are bargains
  15. Buying on impulse, and buying things only to leave them in your drawer or closet unused
  17. Expecting yourself to buy everything your children want because you never had those things yourself as a child
  19. Expecting to keep up with your friends and neighbors 11. Worrying constantly about your bills
  21. Developing physical symptoms, such as headaches and ulcers, as a result of money worries
  23. Arguing frequently with your partner about money and spending
  25. Avoiding any discussion of finances because of the anxiety it causes you 
  27. Attempting desperately to earn money by working overtime at a job for which you are overqualified
  29. Fantasizing that you will be rescued from your financial problems.