Ask an Expert: How to Alleviate Financial Stress

Advice & Stories, Expert Q&A
on July 29, 2014

Dear Kirk: I’m looking for some advice about ways to train myself to worry less about money. Between bills, student loan payments, saving to fund some incredibly vague notion of “the future”—I worry all the time. Any words of wisdom?

Easing Financial Stress

Kirk says: The fact that you are asking for advice on this subject lends itself to you having a content future as it relates to money issues. It shows that you have a healthy self-awareness of this subject.

First of all, it’s important to remind yourself that your worth is not determined by your bank account or retirement fund. So the currency you should be using to measure your worth here is your health, your education, your experience, your skill set and your passion. I truly believe that anyone can make a living at the thing they are passionate about. Author Dan Miller wrote a book titled 48 Days to the Work You Love, which I would highly recommend reading for insight into what it is that could make work feel more like something you want to do, and less like something you have to do to in order to fund your life.

Next, if you’re under financial stain, it’s important to evaluate your plan regularly, or make a new one. If you find yourself so far in debt that it feels like you will never get out, realize that it was a series of bad choices that got you into that position. But as I tell my teenagers, all it takes to break a pattern of bad choices is one good choice. Then you build on that good choice one brick at a time until you come to the point that you have created a wall of good choices. That string of good choices builds confidence, and there are a host of resources to coach you through making these decisions.

So much of your future is determined by your attitude towards it. If you see success in your future, then you are probably right. If you see failure in your future, you are probably right about that too. And it’s best not to get too stuck on the “unknowables.”

For more tips on managing stress, check out this installment of Capture Your Flag:

Kirk Gwaltney is a Chartered Financial Consultant and a Chartered Life Underwriter in Brentwood, Tenn. Learn more about him at

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