So you've hired a personal trainer, improved your diet and hit up Barry's Boot Camp but still don't look like a member of the U.S. Gymnastics Team? So what is it exactly that's standing between you and a rockin' bod? Well, it could be because of stress, and it's not too great a stretch to say it might likely be stress over money that's been piling on the pounds.
We know that financial stress can harm one's overall health. Specifically, a May 2012 study from Aviva U.S.A. and the Mayo Clinic -- questioning 2,000 American men and women on their health habits and financial preparedness -- suggests that financial stress may also cause men to gain weight.
The study quotes Philip Hagen, MD, the medical director of Mayo Clinic Embody Health and the Vice Chair of the Mayo Clinic's Division of Preventative and Occupational Medicine, "Men who are extremely stressed are five times more likely to experience significant weight gain compared to unstressed men. The greatest reported stressor is financial concerns."
This survey reminds me of a longtime investor I know that was frazzled by spending several hours a day following the stock market's ebb and flow. He'd accumulated hundreds of pages of financial information, "research" as he called it. At the end of his rope, he finally gave in a hired a Certified Financial Planner™ who took this "research" off his plate (at which he, quite frankly, wasn't so great) so he could go back to running his business (at which he excelled). Working with a financial advisor on a financial plan has eliminated two to three hours a day of financial planning work.
It's amazing to me how much more relaxed he is when discussing his life in general, and his finances in particular. Amazing may be an overstatement, as I see this sort of things on a daily basis.
Stress of any kind comes from a feeling of being overwhelmed or out of control. One of the most effective ways of resolving it involves a cold hard analysis of the situation followed by a doable if-then action plan worked out in advance. "If this happens, I'll do this... " or "If that happens I'll do that." Just putting a plan in place is a giant first step to replacing the helplessness of stress with a constructive feeling of well-being. That is, the process of solving a problem lifts a big part of stress's burden even if the problem itself hasn't yet been resolved completely.
So, too, can constructive planning and action relieve financial stress. The good news is that there are cadres of highly trained professionals to help you get your financial house in order. For example, if you're carrying massive amounts of debt or are in trouble with the IRS, there are debt settlement attorneys and tax attorneys that can help get your situation under control. This is what these people do for a living and they're good at it.
On the flip slide, you may be making a nice living but the money goes in and out randomly at a dizzying rate. This is where you need a certified financial planner on your side to help you get your financial house in order, and more importantly keep it that way.
Financial planning in action
To help you make a well-informed decision, there are four major areas in which a financial planner can directly add value and subtract financial stress by helping you:
1. Stick with your savings plan.
2. Create an investment portfolio that is suited to your specific long-term goals.
3. Reduce the time and effort that goes into managing your own investments.
4. Guide you away from making the common behavioral mistakes such as throwing too much money at an investment fad near its top or panicking completely out of your investments near a bottom. You know BUY HIGH SELL LOW! (I'll tell you this for free; these two mistakes may cause investors to not merely underperform the stock markets, but even to underperform their own investments.)
The study went on to say that half of men don't discuss their finances with others. And only one in five works with a financial adviser. The old proverb, "A problem shared is a problem halved," comes to mind here. If you don't absolutely love spending countless hours on your finances, there is no shame whatsoever in seeking help from a trusted financial planner who enjoys doing this stuff all day. In fact, getting professional guidance may be the one step that help get you moving in the right direction towards you important financial goals. I know that I strive to alleviate significant amounts of financial stress in my clients' lives. If this means I'm helping them look fabulous in the new swimsuit they just bought (on sale), all the better.
DAVID RAE, CFP®, AIF® is a Los Angeles-based retirement planning advisor with Trilogy Financial Services, focusing on helping the LGBT Community become more Fiscally Fabulous for over a decade. Follow him on on Facebook or www.davidraefp.com.
Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Additional advisory services offered through Trilogy Capital, a Registered Investment Adviser. Trilogy Capital and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.