The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) recently released results from a study examining the association of health and financial resources with stress. Published in the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning (JFCP) as part of the special issue on health and finances, the study revealed that perceived accumulation and loss of financial and health resources influences stress.
Having sufficient health resources, like adequate food, adequate sleep, overall good health for not only yourself, but also your spouse and those close to you, reduces general life stress, and not surprisingly, having sufficient financial resources reduce financial stress. What is unique to this study is that the mere perception of resource gain can help individuals feel more prepared for life’s challenges. For example, individuals who are saving for retirement, may feel less stress about their financial future. And those who perceive that they have adequate health insurance for catastrophic health issues for themselves and their families, may feel less stress.
Perceptions of resources may or may not be actual representations, although they provide a good indication of how individuals react to stressors and cope. Without having to obtain detailed information about a client’s future, financial counselors can assess and potentially influence stress levels by an evaluation of how well-prepared clients feel. It may be possible for financial counselors to reduce stress by shifting the focus from actual resources to the perceptions of resource gains.
Financial counselors are likely already doing an assessment of a client’s financial situation, however, they should add a similar assessment that measures an individual’s perception of resources. The fact that someone has a job, is earning ample income, has financial savings, and appears to be in good health does not always relate to their perception that they are healthy enough or wealthy enough to face life’s challenges. This situation could also work in reverse. Encouraging clients to recognize their accomplishments may enough to lower stress.
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Download the research (available to AFCPE members or by request from the authors): Tibbetts et al. (2018) Associations of Health and Financial Resources with Stress: Applying the Theory of Conservation of Resources. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning (JFCP), 29 (1).