Ask Chuck: Improving your Finances When You’re Sleepless, Stressed, and Broke
My husband and I have made a mess of our finances. We’re young, so I think we have time to recover. But, I’m concerned about my husband. He is having trouble sleeping (so am I for that matter), is emotional, and I fear he may lose valuable business accounts if he doesn’t learn to relax and trust God with our finances. How can I help him?
Sleepless and Stressed
Your plight is far too common for millions of people. I have often said that financial stress affects every area of our lives. Thank you for your honesty and desire to get some help. Here goes!
When under stress, the nervous system reacts to protect us with a series of physiological symptoms sometimes known as the “fight-or-flight” response. The body is put on high alert with the release of stress hormones that affect every organ. Emotional health is impacted as well as physical health. Perhaps you have noticed some of the following:
- Anxiety, nervousness
- Anger, irritability
- Lack of concentration, forgetfulness
- Depression, low spirits, crying
- Sleep issues
- Eating more or less
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Tension in shoulder, back, jaw
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations, arrhythmia
- Lowered immunity
- Skin rashes
In March, the Harvard Business Review published The Financial Upside of Being an Optimist, by Michelle Gielan. It analyzed 2,000 Americans who were surveyed and tested for optimism, financial health, and attitudes and behaviors around money using scientifically validated measures.
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Gielan partnered with Frost Bank and found that optimists do three key things to increase financial health and decrease financial stress.
- They take the taboo out of money by talking about it and seeking help from experts or resources.
- They seek progress not perfection by finding creative ways to save for purchases and plan for the future.
- They expect the unexpected by starting an emergency fund, have recovered from their last financial setback and exercise better financial habits.
Characteristics of An Optimist
Optimism is defined as the inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome. Optimists are:
- More resilient when facing struggles.
- Passionate about what they do.
- Able to persevere in difficulties.
- More likely to exercise.
- Quick to empathize and forgive.
- Grateful and charitable.
- Attractive to others.
Hope is Granted Believers
I believe that Christians have something even stronger than optimism – a real reason to be filled with hope. Hope depends on a mindset of gratitude and faith. Because we live in a fallen world, we will face difficult things. The Bible calls these painful or challenging times, trials and tribulations. But, we can learn how to respond and experience what the Apostle Paul described: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11a-13 ESV)
God is our Rock, our Refuge, our Protector and Provider. He provides strength for every situation. His Word is filled with hope. We simply have to renew our minds with it.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)
Here are some practical tips to help you improved your financial picture:
- Meet together in a quiet place outside your home and talk openly and honestly to your husband about your concerns. Don’t criticize; just share what you are observing.
- Ask to pray together before and after your meeting.
- Recommend that you start a plan to build an emergency savings account. Set a goal to save $1,000 and then 3-6 months of your monthly expenses.
- Set a goal to make giving your highest financial priority. This will realign some of your priorities and poor spending decisions.
- You may have debt that needs to be repaid, a lifestyle that needs changed, and a retraining of all you formerly believed about money. Ask God to renew your mind with Truth.
- Make a plan to pay off your consumer debt sooner than later.
- If you’re struggling with overwhelming credit card debt, contact Christian Credit Counselors.
- Seek the counsel of older, wise believers and surround yourself with encouragers.
- Take what Professor Gielan learned in the study of optimists and apply it from a Biblical standpoint.
The Lord can restore hope and grant you confidence as a couple to meet the challenges you face. With God, all things are possible! God told Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27 ESV)
Become a Better Steward
God has granted us the privilege of using all He provides to impact His kingdom. We are His ambassadors and stewards. How awesome is that!
Choose to be an optimist. Dwell on the beautiful things God has done for you. Spend time in nature, thank Him each morning, and choose to actively take control of your finances.
When anxious thoughts flood your husband’s mind, ask him to cry out to God to help his unbelief. (Mark 9:23-25 ESV) Together, you can trust Him, face your struggles, and implement Biblical financial principles for a sound future.
Originally published on the Christian Post, April 19, 2019