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The Stress Of Money (and how to overcome it?)

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

APA's latest Stress in America survey found that 72 per cent of Americans reported feeling stressed about money at least sometime in the prior month. And guess what... 73% of Americans rank finances as the number one stress in life behind politics (59%), work (49%) and family (46%). So how many times a day does the average American worry about money? Research shows that the average American will worry about their finances at least six times a day. With money being the top source of anxiety for many Americans, the data revealed that 43 per cent of respondents would give up drinking alcohol for five years to retire today, while three in 10 would give up sex (30%) or their friendships (29%).




FINANCIAL CONFIDENCE BY GENERATIONS


Since the Boomer II generation, confidence about finances has grown from one generation to another until we see a considerable drop in financial confidence among Gen Z. However, this may be due to changes and the definition of wealth. Every generation, the standard for wealth appears to be increasing.

Boomers II 1955-1964

65% of boomers II are optimistic about where their finances will be in 10 years. Boomers are the generation that came after those who were born between 1946-1964 during the post-WWII baby boom. They are known to be confident, independent and self-reliant. This generation grew up in an era of reform and believed they could change the world. They tend to question established authority systems and challenge the status quo. Influential and iconic baby boomers who define this generation include Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Wozniak, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and Diana Spencer.


Gen X 1965-1980

71% of GenX are optimistic about where their finances will be in 10 years. GenX is also known as the "lost generation," "forgotten generation," or "invisible generation," GenX has been labelled these monikers because of the shifting societal values that occurred during their rise. This generation witnessed an increase in divorces, single-parent households, and loneliness. They grew up with minimal supervision and quickly learned the value of independence and work-life balance. This generation appreciates informality and is technologically adept, flexible and highly educated. Today, GenX is again considered “lost” because it is stuck between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. Influential and iconic GenX who define this generation include Jeff Benzos, Tiger Wood, Kurt Cobain, Elon Musk, and Liv Tyler.


Millennials 1981-1996

The Millennials are the most confident about their finances moving forward. 79% of them are financially optimistic. A poll of 2,000 adults to uncover how people feel about their finances also finds millennials are more focused on their finances than any other generation. But they also worry about money the most – up to seven times a day. Over half (51%) of millennials say the ability to manage their finances is the top thing they look for in a partner, compared to a sense of humour for Gen Z, Gen X, and baby boomers. As of 2020, millennia make up the largest population in the US. This generation has been described as the first global generation and the first generation that grew up in the Internet age. The generation is generally marked by elevated usage of and familiarity with the Internet, mobile devices, and social media, which is why they are sometimes termed, digital natives. Influential and iconic Millennials who define this generation include Mark Zuckerberg, Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Timberlake, Prince William, and Malala Yousafzai.


Gen Z 1997-2012

This generation is the least optimistic about their finances, with only 57% feeling confident about their financial future. According to a CHC Resource library report, Gen Z is the generation with the most mental health problems. Over-dependence, overstimulation and addiction to technology leave Gen Z with less time to connect, making them feel alone, isolated, left out and without companionship. In terms of finances, inflation is the biggest challenge for this generation. Gen Z is generally more open-minded in many aspects that the older generations cannot accept, and it is vital that they feel that their voice is heard. Instead of correcting their views instantly, have an open and respectful discussion to try and understand them. In addition to their finances, these younger generations are also concerned with wider economic inequality. Roughly three-quarters of Gen Zers and millennials believe the wealth gaps in their respective countries are widening. And they don't see any end in sight. This generation is not willing to wait for the previous generation to do something to change the world; they just go out and do it. Influential and iconic baby boomers who define this generation include Billie Eilish, Jay'Aina Patton, Zanagee Artis, BTS, Blackpink, Stella Keating, and Tiana Day.


FINANCIAL SECURITY AND WELLNESS


Financial security forms one of the eight pillars of wellness. Mental unwellness begins when one or more of these pillars are missing. In clinical treatment, we often do not take on a holistic approach to health. Looking at wellness in silos will not help improve the individual's quality of life. We need to look at it as a whole, and in 360 Wellness Hub, we try to incorporate all aspects of these eight dimensions of wellness, including personal finances.



PROFILE YOUR RISK


Look at the generational differences, select your generation and then profile your ability to manage risk. Each generation will have its own unique set of challenges when it comes to risk management. The first key to wealth is assessing your ability to handle and manage risk. This will change over your lifetime but remember, building wealth is not a competition. It is a lifestyle.


Risk tolerance is the degree of risk that an investor is willing to endure, given the volatility in the value of an investment. It does not mean that if you have a weak stomach for risk, you are not a good investor or if you like to take high risks, you are gambling. Risk tolerance is individual to a person. What may be low risk to you may be high risk to me. The easiest way to gauge your risk is to define it as either: ok to lose all of the money (high-risk tolerance), ok to lose half of the money (moderate risk tolerance) or not ok to lose anything (zero risk tolerance). Of course, this is in a spectrum, and you may be between moderate and zero risk.


INVESTMENT TYPES


From a psychological perspective, investing and managing your finances based on your risk profile can give you a sense of security and peace of mind. So once you know how much risk you can take, the next step is to determine the type of instrument you want to invest in.


Low-risk tolerance

If you have low-risk tolerance, secure a job and then go for the traditional investment such as properties, gold, EPF and fixed deposits. Try to build up your portfolio in these investment types. You will feel financially secure if you have a steady job and assets that can provide you with a passive income. Moderate risk tolerance If your risk tolerance is moderate, you can invest in all the above instruments and invest in stocks or businesses. Those with moderate risk tolerance are often steady and hardworking entrepreneurs. They can forgo the security of a regular monthly salary for the uncertainty of an income or profit from a business.

High-risk tolerance

You probably have met all your basic needs if you have a high-risk tolerance. You already have a house, car, and other essentials to life. Plus, enough to take care of your family. In this case, the money that you risk is the additional money. If you are in this category, the world is your oyster, and you can invest in anything you want. Here, you can use your money to make money and enter into cryptocurrencies, forex, commodities and other exotic instruments. If you are good at making money, you can help others by becoming a deal-maker or an angel investor.


HIGH-RISK TOLERANCE AND GAMBLING


High-risk tolerance can lead a person to gamble, which can lead to losses and addiction since gambling can be pretty addictive. Below are some key takeaways:


Investing and gambling both involve risking capital in the hopes of making a profit.

  • In both gambling and investing, a key principle is to minimize risk while maximizing reward.

  • Gamblers have fewer ways to mitigate losses than investors do.

  • Investors have more sources of relevant information than gamblers do.

  • Over time the odds will be in your favour as an investor and not in your favour as a gambler.

But yes, the line between risk-taking and gambling is blurred. Ask yourself these two questions before you cross the line... "Can I afford to lose this money?." If the answer is no, you're gambling.

"Do I understand this instrument enough?." If your answer is no, you're betting. "Should I double up on the losses?." If you answer yes, stop. You may be addicted to gambling. Seek therapy. Invest in your well-being.


STILL, STRESSED ABOUT MONEY?


People get stressed about money when they imagine they do not have enough or do not have the resources needed to find the money. If we are not greedy and live-to-live, then we do not need much to live, but if we live to feed our ego, no amount is enough. Money is a perspective, and wealth is a vague concept. Thus, if anxiety about money is keeping you awake at night and making you feel suicidal, you need to talk to someone who can show you the financial light at the end of the tunnel. It may not be what your ego expects, but you can use your ego-defined perspective about money and wealth to help you set your future financial goals and targets, while working daily to reach that financial wellness goals.

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About the Author

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Dr. Lennie Soo

Founder and Clinical Director of 360 Wellness Hub.

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