The globe and Mail featured an article on Stress and how it is causing a whole bunch of health related issues. It went so far as to call stress the new smoking problem.
The key contributor of stress discussed in the article was work-life balance. Although I agreed with many of the points in the article, I think they failed to recognize money as a huge contributor of stress in people’s lives. Times have been tough when it comes to people’s money.
1. The lack of rewards in the stock market.
The last 10 years, the stock market has not worked in most people’s favour. We’ve faced 2 big market corrections within the same 10 year period. Even over the long term, money has not grown as much as we expected.
2. Layoffs, cutbacks and fiscal tightening.
During recessions, many businesses have felt the impact on the bottom line. As a result, employers are cutting expenses and sometimes that means layoffs and benefits and bonuses.
3. People are overspending because of a consumption mentality.
We live in a society that loves to spend. It starts with a government that believes spending drives the economy and for the past few decades, governments have encouraged spending even if it means spending money we do not have. We live in a world of delayed consequence over delayed gratification and unfortunately we are facing those consequences today. I'm not an economist but common sense says there are huge problems in overspending in this manner.
4. Too much debt.
With all this demand for consumption, the financial institutions have opened up the lending and made it easier for people to go into debt. The root of the problem is financial institutions figured out that debt is big business and it is extremely profitable too. Debt has become a marketed product in and of itself.
5. The complexity of the financial market.
The financial marketplace has gotten extremely complex and as a result, investors are more confused than ever. More choices has paralyzed investors from making decisions. Complexity has also created an environment for crooks to take advantage of people with scams, schemes and fraudulent activities.
All of these realities have create more stress than ever. I’ve always said the key to reducing this stress it to take control of your money and start tackling the problems one at a time. Although employers are not responsible for the financial health of their employees, leading employers recognize that there is a link between financial stress and work. Part of a wellness program through work also includes promoting financial responsibility through education and retirement benefits.