Align Time, Money, and Core Values for Less Stress

In their Stress in America survey, the American Psychology Association identified money as the primary source of stress for most Americans. Financial stress tends to escalate when individuals struggle with their finances or when they feel their lives lack purpose or meaning. In essence, both money and meaning are crucial aspects of our lives.

To manage the financial aspect, consider the following steps:

• Increase your liquid reserves. Depositing funds in an after-tax brokerage account or a high-yield savings account can boost your financial confidence and reduce stress. Aim to have six months’ worth of personal expenses set aside in risk-free securities or cash.

• Reduce your debt-to-income ratio to 25% or less of your gross income. This can involve refinancing a mortgage or using long-term savings or current cash flow to pay off debts. This strategy can enhance your financial confidence and resilience.

• Save at least 10% of your annual income, ideally on a monthly basis. By managing your budget to save 10% of your gross income, you equip yourself with financial flexibility during challenging times.

Even after securing your finances, you might still experience worry due to market volatility or the fast-paced nature of modern life. It’s beneficial to conduct an annual values exercise, either on your own or with a professional. This process ensures that your time and money align with your core values. Regardless of your financial wealth, stress can arise when our lives don’t reflect our personal values or when we lack purpose and meaning.

A simple values exercise involves selecting your top 10 values from a deck of cards. Rank these in order of importance and ask yourself: Am I living in accordance with these values? Is my money helping to promote these values? How can I adjust my daily activities to deepen my alignment with what is truly important to me?

In conclusion, both financial stability and meaningful living are critical for stress reduction and enhancing your life experience. Striving for a balance between money and meaning can lead to a more fulfilling, stress-free life.

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