Most Americans, rich or not, stressed about money (www.futurityfirst.com)

It’s only natural to sweat the phone bill when there aren’t enough nickels to rub together. But what explains the millionaire who agonizes over the cost of new curtains, or the homeowner of sufficient means who can’t pull the trigger on a long-overdue family vacation?

Indeed, a surprising number of Americans who are otherwise financially secure are quite literally worried sick about money.

money stress

A 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association found that money is the leading cause of stress among Americans—especially for parents, younger adults ages 18 to 49 years old and, not surprisingly, those living in lower-income households. For the majority of Americans (64 percent), the survey found, money is a “somewhat” or “very significant” source of stress.

Anxiety of any shade can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as checking one’s online bank accounts compulsively and sleep deprivation, which in turn can cause headaches and high blood pressure.

It can also create tension with loved ones. Almost a third of the adults with partners (31 percent) who were surveyed reported that money was a major source of conflict in their relationship.

Surprisingly, affluent Americans may be particularly vulnerable.

A 2015 survey of investors with a net worth of $1 million or more by UBS found that while millionaires derive significant satisfaction from the wealth they amassed, they also feel compelled to strive for more, spurred on by their own ambition, the desire to protect their families’ lifestyle and an “ever-present fear of losing it all.”

“With memories of the financial crisis still lingering, most millionaires don’t have enough wealth to feel secure,” the report stated.

Half of millionaires with less than $5 million—and 63 percent of those working with children at home—believe that one wrong move, such as a job loss or market crash, would have a major impact on their lifestyle, the survey found.

So what fuels the fear?

Fear factors

In some cases, it’s the by-product of income instability. The self-employed, business owners and those who work in industries with a high degree of turnover may be more inclined to worry about their financial future than others, said Masood Vojdani, founder and CEO of MV Financial.

Market volatility, political uncertainty and economic performance, however, can also trigger a money-under-the-mattress response, he said.

“The parents of today’s baby boomers lived a Depression-era lifestyle, and they passed that on to their kids,” said Vojdani. “We are creatures of habit, and they became savers.”

Vojdani recently worked with a client with assets of more than $5 million who was losing sleep over the economic instability in Greece and China. Specifically, he worried (without cause) that the value of his domestic real estate would be negatively affected and that a global economic meltdown would force him to go back to work.

“I often act as a therapist and tell them to spend a little because you are not coming back,” said Vojdani. “Enjoy some of this today. My job is to help them live the life they desire without worrying about every little bill.”

That requires a plan, he said.

If their primary concern is related to wealth transfer, tax reduction, succession planning or ensuring their children and grandchildren are provided for, Vojdani develops a financial plan to achieve that goal.

But he also coaches clients, especially those of means, to give some away.

“When I ask them how they want to make a difference in the world, it opens their eyes and it takes some of that anxiety away because now they have a purpose for their money,” he said.

Some anxiety surrounding money is a good thing, said Lynn Bufka, associate executive director of practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association.

“Worry can often prompt us to rein in spending or reconsider how we are allocating funds,” she said. “But if you’re adequately funding your retirement plan and saving for your kid’s college and you’re still completely stressed out and can’t stop thinking about it, it’s time to step back and determine whether your financial situation warrants that level of concern.”

Those who suffer from anxiety, she said, often make connections between things that may or may not be true. One client’s husband, for example, refused to let his wife throw a dinner party for his co-workers because he feared he would lose his livelihood if it went badly.

Schwartz, Shelly. “Most Americans, Rich or Not, Stressed about Money: Surveys.” Web log post. CNBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.

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For more information, contact our Recruiting Manager Allie Vossoughi at allievossoughi@ffig.com & 602-314-7580, or Thomas Shultz, Managing Director  at thomasshultz@ffig.com & 602-314-7580, or Scottsdale Associate Managing Director Nancy Monaco at nancymonaco@ffig.com & 602-314-7580, or Scottsdale Associate Managing Investment Director Tom Bugbee at thomasbugbee@ffig.com & 602-314-7580.

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Thomas Bugbee

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