Besides being a hazard to your health, stress is also hazardous to your bank account. Here’s what you can do about it.
You know those days when your to-do list grows longer regardless of how many tasks you do? Or the days when your agenda for the day are meetings back to back?
These are the days when you absolutely need to unwind to get your mental state back to equilibrium. While the ways to de-stress differ from person to person, one fact remains: you’re most likely going to spend money to do so. Here’s how being stressed eats into your finances, and what you can do to make sure unwinding doesn’t cost you too much.
1. By Eating to Your Heart’s Content
Doesn’t eating make you feel better? That’s because your gut and your brain are connected by the ‘gut-brain axis’. When you’re feeling low, you’ll want to eat.
Also called emotional eating (which is a legitimate medical condition), eating when you’re stressed really isn’t good for your wallet… or your health. Once it’s become a habit or a source of comfort, you’re going to spend money on food to soothe your soul. And comfort food, unfortunately, usually comes in the form of unhealthy snacks.
Take Cheryl, 24, for example.
Cheryl finds herself making visits to 7-11 whenever she’s feeling particularly stressed. She would return to the office with chocolate bars, chips and even sodas because eating them relaxes her.
But she also feels that buying these snacks are ultimately unnecessary spending. She can spend up to S$12 in one go! That’s worth three lunches in a hawker centre.
What to Do Instead:
When you’re feeling nibblish because you’re under extreme stress, tell yourself to wait it out. Delaying the snack will help the impulse time to pass, resulting in you feeling more control at the end of it.
2. By Unwinding with a Couple of After-Work Drinks
The clock strikes 6, and you’re ready to have more than a few drinks of the alcoholic variety. With the way the day has been, you really need to loosen up, and the best way you know how is to have a few pints of beer at your favourite pub or bar.
Before you know it, you’re four pints in and S$50 poorer.
Jill, 28, likes to knock back a few at a bar next to her office when she’s had a rough day. Her go-to drink is a double whiskey on-the-rocks (which costs S$24 a pop). While it helps her de-stress, the problem is she usually doesn’t stop at one.
By the time she’s ready to head home, she has already had four and is too tipsy to take a train home. Jill will get an Uber to send her home, and the ride usually costs her around S$18.
The morning after, she’ll calculate how much she’s spent and she usually exceeds S$100. Just for one night of de-stressing. That’s about a month’s worth of public transportation.
What to Do Instead:
Get out of the office and go for a 10-minute walk. Yes, it doesn’t get you that wonderful buzz-y feeling that alcohol does, but it doesn’t make you feel out of control of your feelings either. The inkling to drink comes from stress, so clear your mind and boost endorphins by taking a walk in a park or a place with lots of greenery.
3. By Treating Yourself to Shopping
Ever found yourself on an online shopping site after you’ve come out of a frustrating meeting? Yeah, we’ve been there too.
You tell yourself you’re only window-shopping, but something beautiful actually catches your eye and you end up buying it, even when you didn’t set out to buy anything in the first place.
Bianca, 30, knows what this feels like very well. Her de-stressing method consists solely of surfing through online shops. And she always ends up charging something she can’t afford on her credit card.
Because she’s had a tough time, she wants to treat herself to an item or two. But her expensive tastes can cost her a few hundred per article of clothing. Shopping does make her extremely happy, but when her credit card bill comes along, she finds herself on a tight budget for the rest of the month.
What to Do Instead:
Step away from your laptop when your fingers are itching to type in the URL of an online retail store. Besides getting stopped from shopping, being away from the screen actually helps you lower your stress levels. Allow yourself to practise mindfulness, and be aware that shopping is just a temporary fix that will address the root causes of your stress.
If you’re still itching to shop, allow yourself to de-stress fully before you log on to an e-commerce site. Science has shown that you’re less willing to spend when you’re feeling good.
Read This Next:
By Jehanne Teo
Starting out as a lifestyle writer, Jehanne currently writes for SingSaver.com.sg about saving money in everyday situations.