5 Ways That Stress Messes Up Your Budget


It’s fairly obvious that stress can mess up your life. Everything seems to go wrong, you can’t get anything done, and it’s all you can do to play catch up– it’s just like you’re running up an escalator that’s going down.

There’s one part of your life that really gets messed up when stress sets in: your budget. Here are five ways stress turns your budget– not just you and your blood pressure– into a full-fledged wreck.

1. Stress Spending

Seriously, if you’re using retail therapy to get rid of your stress, that’s just the financial equivalent of eating chicharon bulaklak to comfort yourself because you just found out you have high blood pressure. Then washing it down with a Coke and lighting up afterwards. (Yes, I know someone who actually did that: me.)

Stress spending leads to more stress, especially when the bills come. Go take a walk, or if you really want to go window shopping and remind yourself why you’re working so hard, leave the plastic locked up in your desk drawer.

2. Unsound Decision-Making

The most common example for this, of course, is well, number 1. Otherwise, why would you think it’s a great idea to spend more money when you’re already killing yourself working to make some? But scientists say it’s not really your fault. Under tremendous stress, the primal part of brain (the part that goes into survival mode fight or flight) takes over and shuts down the logical part, the neocortex. When this happens, your instincts take over, and logic (plus good decision making) goes out the window.

When this happens, creativity is reduced so we tend to focus on old, non-working solutions to our problems at work; capacity to process useful information is impaired, and fail to understand the long term consequences of our actions and thus make serious mistakes,. Like borrowing some more, and at a higher interest rate when the credit card collectors call. Or taking a job you’re not really qualified for just because it pays more. Or falling for pyramid scams and other get-rich-quick schemes.

3. Vices and Other Forms Of Stress Relief

Under stress, some people turn to alcohol, gambling, drugs and other addictive (and expensive) forms of stress relief, which, in turn can wipe out your savings– and worse, your regular budget, really fast. Yes, it really does happen. And no,it’s not me this time.


4. Your Health

Everyone knows that chronic stress can play havoc with your health. And the sad part is, stress-related health conditions can be very expensive. High blood pressure, heart conditions, ulcers and other gastrointestinal ailments, even neurological conditions can very expensive. Heart attacks and strokes, especially when they happen to the breadwinner, can change a whole family’s financial future adversely.


5. Giving Up And/Or Overcompensating

It’s good old primal brain dictated fight-or-flight-syndrome. Behaviorists have found that stress affects our self-esteem and self-confidence, causing us to fall easily into negative self-evaluations. In short, we turn into negatrons who kick ourselves constantly for being failures and then go on to prove we’re right about being failures. Ever get so overwhelmed by money problems you’ve thought, “it’s useless, I have too little money so budgets don’t work” and decide to not do it anymore?

Too much stress can cost you a lot– and it all adds up. Get a handle on it with the right nutrition, exercise, and even therapy if you need it before it cause you to break and go broke!

Judith Albano

I've been in advertising for 25 years, (60 if you count the overtime), writing for banks, pharmaceuticals, utilities, insurance and real estate companies, consumer brands, advocacy groups and whatnot. I've also written radio dramas and a film back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

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