How to Manage Financial Stress so It Doesn’t Affect Your Work

A picture of a piggy bank.Around 80 percent of millennials and Gen Z adults reported that money was the main source of stress in their lives, according to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2018. Some level of financial pressure is normal and can even lead to increased efficiency and motivation to take action. However, too much stress can have detrimental effects on your health, relationships, and career.

As a Chartered Certified Accountant and financial coach, I have been helping young professionals manage their personal finances since 2017. People reach out to me for several reasons but it’s striking how everyone experiences feelings of shame while discussing their financial situation.

Whether it’s earning a low income, your inability to pay bills or rent on time or increasing debt, feelings of financial stress can lead to tension and irritability, anxiety about the future, inability to make decisions, loss of appetite or disproportionate increase in snacking, sleep problems, poor concentration, etc. It can take a toll on your relationships at work, decrease your quality of work and impact your overall performance.

Here are four strategies to minimize the impact financial stress can have on your work.

1. Assess the ‘damage’

Become aware of your current financial situation.

  • Write down your current situation in as much detail as possible including when the problem started, what you have done so far to address it, what has worked and what hasn’t, etc.
  • Then, rate your situation on a scale of 1 (worst case scenario) to 10 (best case scenario). Based on the description above, where are you now on this continuum?
  • Go back to the description you wrote and eliminate anything that is not a fact. Make sure you quantify the problem. If you have written ‘I am in huge debt’, quantify it as ‘I owe a total of $xyz’. Here is an example to illustrate this part of the exercise:


Original description Facts only description
I make $87,000 per year, yet I am broke. I have barely any savings and my credit card debt is massive. I don’t even know what I spend my money on, it just vanishes into the ether. I make $87,000 per year, yet I am broke. I have barely anysavings of $724 and my credit card debt is massive $3,266. I don’t even know what I spend my money on, it just vanishes into the ether.


  • Now that your emotions are out of the way, go back and rate your situation based on facts only. Most people rate it higher the second time.


2. Work with what you’ve got

Look at what you can control and identify 1 – 3 practical steps you can take to move a point up on the scale. Then, list the actionable steps you need to take to execute it. Here is an example for someone who wants to increase their income:


Things I can do Actionable steps
Sell things I haven’t used in 6 months online Identify items I want to sell
Take pictures of items
Write descriptions
List items on relevant site
Unsubscribe from services I do not use Check email or bank statements to identify subscriptions
Write down the last time I used the service and how useful it is
Cancel direct debit or call the provider to cancel service


3. Act right away

Avoid procrastination. Take out time every day to do something towards improving your rating. It can be as small as looking at potential websites and social media options to advertise your listings. Action builds momentum and small wins will boost your morale. If you find that you are running out of things to do, go back to step 2.


4. Talk to someone

Opening up to a friend or colleague about your problem can help you lift the weight off your shoulders. It might be hard to talk about our money problems but pretending that everything is rosy can cause even more stress and anxiety. Moreover, having an ally in the workplace means that they might help mitigate some stressful situations: advocate/negotiate for more favorable deadlines, alleviate the pressure of work-related social engagements, etc.


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1 Response

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