The whole subject of finance is one of the most common causes of disagreement and discord in a family, and I’m sure there has never been a home that hasn’t been touched by stress at one point or another due to money. It’s a tough subject where issues of power, control and ego are in effect, and where the interplay between these elements has the potential to fuel explosive and problematic conditions at home.
I thought about this a bit and came up with a list of what I think are the most common financial stressors in one’s life, wondering how well anyone can really prepare for such challenges if they ever arise. There’s this saying: “Even the best laid plans can be foiled.” By the unexpected, that is. Still, we get ready and brace ourselves for what can possibly happen, and hope our financial house can withstand the storms of fate, time and life changes.
The following list is not from a formal study but rather, from my own research and observations: I’ve discovered that a measuring scale for stress actually exists, and it’s called the Holmes-Rahe scale. So I went ahead and assigned points to these events based on the scale, and provided approximate points where events were not officially represented. Please note that this list is based on the scale but I had to fill in some of the gaps.
I’ve divided the list into two sections — one that describes typical, ordinary financial stressors which most people inevitably go through, while the other describes stressors due to less likely, but impactful events which may or may not ever happen to you.
The Most Stressful Financial Events You Should Prepare For
Ordinary Life Changes That Affect Your Finances
|Financial Events||Financial Crisis Units|
|Merging assets due to a marriage||50|
|Losing a job||47|
|Getting “sandwiched” and caring for children and parents (or older family members)||40|
|Accommodating new children in the family||39|
|Changing careers or job responsibilities||32|
|Launching a business||32|
|Spouse leaves work or returns to work||26|
|Lifestyle changes, deliberate or otherwise||25|
|Remodeling a house||25|
|Troubles at work||23|
|Buying a house||20|
|Claiming insurance for medical purposes||20|
Extraordinary Life Changes That Affect Your Finances
|Financial Events||Financial Crisis Units|
|Death and losing a breadwinner||100|
|Dividing assets during divorce||73|
|Going through probate||50|
|Enforcing a prenup when the other side isn’t interested||40|
|Becoming suddenly wealthy, when you need to please everyone||38|
|Going through bankruptcy or carrying a large debt||31|
|Going through foreclosure||30|
|Becoming a scam victim||30|
|Claiming insurance for disaster||30|
Some surprising findings from trends based on the Holmes-Rahe scale: changes in your marital status through marriage, divorce, separation or reconciliation; changes in your state of employment such as retirement and unemployment; and changes in your financial status all end up rating higher in the stress scale than (or at least equal to) events surrounding a home foreclosure, bankruptcy filing or a personal debt crisis! Having gone through a few job searches myself, I can’t imagine it to be anywhere as close to frightening (or as stressful) as a crumbling debt situation. Could it be because the highly stressful events involve and change your existing relationships more than the less stressful events do?
The scale can give you some idea of how stressed you are. However, if you really want further quantification of your scores, you can try out the actual Holmes-Rahe test and see what your risk of serious illness happens to be!
The Most Stressful Occupations In America
CareerCast.com and CNBC provide some coverage on the most stressful jobs in America. I came up with this table based on the information I found.
||Time Pressure||Competition||Unemployment Rate|
|Real Estate Agent||High||Very High||4% to 7%|
|Public Relations Officer||High||Very High||4% to 7%|
|Firefighter||Very High||Low||0% to 4%|
|Corporate Executive||High||High||0% to 4%|
|Advertising Manager or Executive||Moderate||Very High||Over 14%|
|Surgeon||Moderate||High||0% to 4%|
|Taxi Driver||Moderate||Moderate||Over 14%|
|Traffic Cop / Highway Patrol||Moderate||Low||0% to 4%|
|Commercial Pilot||Moderate||Low||7% to 10%|
Work stress is quite common. Aside from those occupations I’ve mentioned, what are some other stressful jobs that often make these lists? Race car driver, emergency medical technician (and other professions in this field), stock broker, photojournalist and newscaster. But what about the most stressful job of all? Well, if you are the “President of the United States”, this could very well be your fate:
Possible before and after?
Now let’s take a look at the other side of the coin. The Jobs Rated Almanac reveals that the following five jobs are the least stressful: medical records technician, janitor, forklift operator, musical instrument repairer and florist.
Here’s an interesting question: are there people who are just naturally more prone to stress? Apparently so. You can very well be born with a certain vulnerability to stress, as the type of personality you have may play a part in the way you react to and manage high pressure situations. For instance, people with “Type A” personalities — who are driven and anxious by nature — may be more prone to stress. Certain types of jobs (such as those that deal with life/death situations) can also influence one’s stress levels. Furthermore, those who are touched by mental illness (family or self) may also be more vulnerable to stress (source: Jobs Rated Almanac).
Let’s see, how many serious bloggers out there have “Type A” personalities? If you’re the kind of person who’s highly anxious, then try various healthy activities (e.g. yoga) to help you relax. It may just help you de-stress!
How Should We Handle Stressful Financial Situations?
The best way to meet any stressful money situation head on is to prepare. Granted, it can be difficult to discuss some of these things and make mutual decisions with your partner, and sadly in many cases, it can be pretty much impossible to reach agreement over some issues. In fact, some events may be so unpalatable to imagine, that you may prefer to “not even go there” with your loved one.
Unpleasant or not, for many of the events outlined above, you can certainly work on plans to smoothen your transitions better. It is always our heartfelt hope that we can somehow stave off these occurrences and if not, wish that we can have the fortitude, maturity and resources to navigate through our situation.
Created March 15, 2007. Updated October 20, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.