Inflation. Supply chain issues. Stock market drops. Global uncertainty. Rising debt. More inflation. There is a lot going on in the world these days to cause stress and financial anxiety. If you’re feeling it, you’re not alone. A new survey just released found that 77% of Americans feel anxious about their financial situation and over half have difficulty controlling their money-related worries. What can you do about it?
Put Your Hope in God
The first and most important thing you can do when feeling stressed or anxious is to put your hope in God. First Peter 5:7 encourages us to cast all of our anxieties upon God because he cares for us. Second Corinthians 1 refers to him as “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.” As the all-powerful maker of heaven and earth, there is no greater place to turn, no one with greater ability to sustain us.
This is a fact that can be easy to accept in our heads but hard to work its way into our hearts in a way that has a meaningful effect on our lives. Knowing that God is in control and cares for us and being able to live it out with confidence are two different things. To get your heart to really cement its hope in God, pray through and meditate on the scriptures that enforce this. Here are some to get you started:
- Psalm 121:7-8 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
- Micah 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
- 2 Corinthians 7:6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us.
- Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
- Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
- Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
- Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
- Psalm 33:20-22 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
- Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
- Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Focus on What You Can Control
In addition to trusting God, we constantly encourage our clients to focus their attention and energy on the things that are actually within their control. Life can seem overwhelming when you see everything going on in the world beyond your control. You will only make progress and achieve your goals, though, when you focus on and take ownership of those things that you can control.
For example, you can’t control what happens with the stock market, but you can control how much of your money is in the stock market. It may be uncontrollable, but you have control over how much of your money is exposed to the stock market and its whims.
You can’t control inflation, but you can control your own spending. While you have no say in the price of oil, you do have a say in the car that you buy or if you even own a car at all. You don't set the prices at your favorite restaurant, but you get to decide how often you eat out and when you cook at home. The cost of college is not something you have influence over, but which college you or your child attends, and for how long, is something within your grasp.
You can’t control what the future holds, but you can control how well you prepare and save for the future. The weather may be out of your hands, but you have the power to purchase a good homeowners insurance policy. Your own life is not in your own hands, but the amount of disability and life insurance coverage you choose to hold is. You may not have much control over how long you will be healthy enough to work, but you do have control over how much you set aside now to be able to support yourself when that happens.
If you pay any attention to the news, it can feel like you are completely powerless in a crazy world. But that is not the case. There is a lot that you do have control over in your life, and you will end up much better off focusing on that instead of the things that are out of your control.
Arm Yourself with Knowledge
One thing that causes a lot of stress and anxiety is simply not knowing. Think back to your first day of school. It was terrifying, wasn’t it? Why? Because you didn’t know if you would like your teacher, you didn’t know where your classroom was, and you didn’t know if any of your friends would be in your class. One week later, everything was fine because you knew.
Knowledge brings comfort and confidence. As Ecclesiastes 7:19 says, “Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.” Having knowledge and wisdom can give you strength in tumultuous times.
How does that play out in real life? Here’s some knowledge of what the S&P 500, an index that is a common proxy for the general US stock market, has done so far this year (through October 21, 2022).
It’s gone down. A lot. But do you know what it was doing over the last five years?
It went up. A lot. If you look, you’ll see that where we are right now, even after that scary red graph above, is right about where we were at the beginning of 2021. Which is better than any of the years before that. That doesn’t feel quite as bad anymore, does it? Now let’s get even more knowledge of the S&P 500.
That’s the S&P 500 over the last 40 or so years. Now, where we are today looks really good, doesn’t it? It’s amazing how knowledge can change your perspective.
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, take the advice of Proverbs 18:15, which says, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
While you are in Proverbs getting advice, take a look at chapter 11, verse 14, which says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Another good way to combat financial anxiety is to seek help and not don’t try to do it alone. As Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Modern day surveys confirm what the ancient proverbs say. Researchers have found that working with a financial advisor causes people to report higher levels of happiness, confidence, and stability in their financial and personal lives. Do you have a financial professional to walk with you, providing counsel and wisdom? That could be the answer to ridding yourself of some of your financial anxiety.
Here at Guide Financial Planning, we have dedicated our careers to helping others find peace and confidence in their finances. It isn’t just a job; it’s a calling, as Galatians 6:2 calls us to “bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We are here to help you bear your financial burdens and we offer a free, no-commitment introductory call to get to know each other, if you want to learn more. You can schedule one here.
There have probably been a lot more scripture references in this article than you would expect from something coming out of the financial industry. That is because while the Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about I Bonds or the US tax code, when it comes to the human heart, we feel that the Bible has a lot more wisdom than we do. With that in mind, we want to leave you with one last verse, Romans 15:3:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
About Guide Financial Planning
Guide Financial Planning is led by founder Ben Wacek, who is a Christian fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Kingdom Advisor®. He has a passion to help people of all income levels make wise financial decisions and steward their resources from an eternal perspective using Biblical principles. Based in Minneapolis, MN, he works with clients both locally and virtually throughout the country and abroad. You can follow the links to learn more about Guide Financial Planning and our team and the services we offer.