Financial Stress -How Do We Help Clients Under Duress? With Small Steps First

Anxiety and Depression Due to Financial Stress Can Be Overcome with a Little Strategy

I read this article from Squared Away Blog with it’s interesting implications on positive attitude and money success:

Squared Away – Avoidance Comes with Financial Anxiety

Here’s a little taste from the article:

Financial Stress Got You Pulling Out Hairs?

Source: Squared Away Blog Article

That’s the gist of a handful of recent studies into a newly identified emotion known as financial anxiety. These early studies look at two things: 1) is financial anxiety real?; and 2) does it explain why people do things like avoiding money issues or going into debt to paper over their financial problems?

The evidence says yes to both questions. 

How I would Approach a Client with High Financial Anxiety & Stress

I think what these researchers found out was the link in the anxiety leads to depression leads to inaction chain. Studies in positive thinking show that action must be taken, even when we don’t feel like it, to change our attitude. The attitude change doesn’t happen first.

Along similar lines, as I get older I see so many ways that our personal weaknesses play out. And interestingly there are so many ways to work on those weaknesses, if we choose to (and not give in the despair).

For some, it’s finances and financial stress – brings out their worst. For others, sports or martial arts training, and for others, sales or trading markets. I have first hand knowledge in many of these areas on how they highlight weaknesses and cause poor/slow decision making.

As much as we teach to learn subjects and topics in school, we all could have really benefited from a Martin Seligman course on optimism or a Zig Ziglar course on successful thinking! In my opinion, this is one of the biggest things that successful parents impart on their children, and something average kids get much less often: successful talk, attitude, and action. not necessarily successful in financial terms, but in confidence, taking a chance, and trying things without self-defeating behaviors (that would lead to things like financial stress).

For financial planners such as myself, I have found that helping people take small steps, to start the positive mental energy flowing, would be a wiser first step for highly anxious people, than developing and encouraging a full financial plan. This way, we can build on supportive feelings and snowball effective, positive actions.

An example of a small step would be getting someone with no savings to start $25-50 per paycheck to their 401k or to their savings account. Or, it could be paying off a small credit card balance entirely to give a sense of achievement and get the ball rolling positively.

For wealthy anxious (read: financial stress said more nicely) clients, I often recommend they “save” too, especially if they are retired and drawing on their investments. The fear of running out of money has been known to hit the wealthiest of people.

Small steps help and understanding people is a big part of effective consulting and advising.


Looking to talk to someone about money? Feeling anxious? Depressed? I got you covered. I set aside a part of my schedule each week to answer questions from my readers.

Just contact me HERE and let’s talk.

Photo credit: Guiseppe Savo