Financially Fit: Why personal finance matters

asweatlife_Financially Fit Why personal finance matters_1

Money: we all need it, we all want more of it and, for better or for worse, we are perpetually affected by the stuff ‘til death do us part (well, sorta). We also don’t like to talk about it – which is perfectly normal because it is stressful.

In fact, if you’re cringing right now just thinking about your finances, you are not alone; according to a study that came out this year by the American Psychological Association, 72% of adults report feeling stressed about money. Women and millennials are also more likely to feel high levels of stress about money. Participants in the study consistently ranked “money” at the top of their list of stressors – above stress at work, stress with family responsibilities and health concerns.

And that makes sense, right? Money can dictate what we can and cannot do, if we can budget in that Soul Cycle class this week and even how we feel in social situations. Here’s the kicker: that stress about money can affect your health – mentally and physically.

According to the study, “those who have particularly high stress about money are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors to manage their stress.” Unhealthy behaviors range from sedentary activities (hello Netflix!) to drinking/smoking/eating (I can’t tell you how many chocolate bars I have consumed in my life to deal with stress, but let’s just say the candy industry did really well during my final exams in college). And on the mental side, “research shows that financial struggles strain individuals’ cognitive abilities, which could lead to poor decision-making and may perpetuate their unfavorable financial and health situations.”

In another study, researchers at Ohio State University followed the link between financial debt (student loans, anyone?) and the negative impacts it can have on health. People with high debt and financial stress had a higher percentage of ulcers, digestive-tract problems and severe anxiety. Added stress can cause significant harm to blood pressure, heart rate, memory, mood and immune functioning. Though the study cannot conclude that financial stress is the only cause of these health-related issues, they do appear to have a strong correlation.

Ok, enough with the bad news now.

There is good news! Receiving emotional support and more information can help you lower your stress about money.

So, let’s talk money. No! Wait! Don’t run away! Come back! It won’t be scary. The goal will be to make money less stressful so we can get our personal finances in order together – so we can get on with our lives and stop worrying so much about breaking our piggy banks. Let’s make money work for us so we can get on with our work (and work outs) – no more sweating the small stuff and more time sweating in the gym.

Here’s what you can expect from the series. We’ll keep it casual. We’ll keep it fun – who doesn’t like playing with numbers? No? Guys? Anyone? Bueller?

We’ll try to keep stresses to a minimum and offer as many tools, tips and tricks as possible. If there’s an app for that (and there usually is), we’ll let you know about it. I’ll try to help give you the equipment, but keep in mind that personal finance, like exercise and many other things in life, is not one-size-fits-all.

If you have anything you want to learn more about in particular, let me know in the comments below and we’ll try to break down some helpful information for you in later posts – I’ll try to sanitize out the nerdy finance jargon but I make no promises.

I’m looking forward to getting more financially fit with all of you over the next few weeks!

Let us know!

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About Cass Gunderson

Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is a full-time student at the University of Chicago's Booth Graduate Business School. Before deciding to throw away all her money to go back to school, Cass worked for a private equity firm that buys technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. Cass has completed four marathons and one ultramarathon (she claims she'll never do this to herself again, but that's TBD). She can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.

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