By Vincent Birardi, CFP®, AIF®, Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

We’re all human and are all wired to stress over and fear the unknown. Financial stress—worrying about having the financial resources to care for ourselves and our families—can be devastating to your mental and physical health.

What is Financial Stress?

Financial stress spans all economic strata. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I have heard many clients with well-padded nest eggs express a nagging sense that they will outlive their vast financial means, no matter how low the probability.

We all face financial challenges in every phase of our lives. It’s critical to take action, to not let these stressors overwhelm us whether they’re based in reality or not. Importantly, there are concrete ways to manage financial stress and safeguard your health in the process. I’ve shared below several approaches you can take to help mitigate financial stress and ease the financial challenges you’re contending with.

Here are five key approaches to deal with financial stress:

1. Make a financial plan

Work with a CFP® professional to create a customized financial plan. Experienced CFP® practitioners help clients navigate financial challenges and stressors every day. The plan your advisor builds with you should ease your mind about what to expect if you stick with it.

Your plan should include life goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). This may help ensure that your goals—including steps to reduce your financial stress—are reasonably attainable within a specific timeframe.

Your plan should also identify investment amounts and vehicles that can appropriately help you to achieve your goals.

2. Track your expenses

Use a personal expense tracking system such as Credit Karma or Quicken to automate keeping tabs on your expenses. Periodically look for ways to decrease, if necessary, your discretionary expenses (like dining out or splurging on that pricey wish-list item) to keep your spending in alignment with your household income.

3. Create an emergency savings fund

An emergency savings fund is a segregated bank savings account (not an investment account) that should be funded with at least an amount equal to 3-6 months of your average household expenses. Funds should be used only for unplanned expenses like out-of-pocket medical expenses or car trouble.

4. Develop your human capital

This is a fancy way to refer to your current and future earned income capabilities. For example, if you enjoy your job, you might look for ways to advance in your career by enhancing your skills to further increase your salary, like getting an advanced degree, for example.

Alternatively, maybe you’re unhappy with your current job prospects and salary. Consider taking that leap to a new career with more upside. This could require significant planning and budgeting for education, but it could make you a lot happier and more financially secure in the long run.

5. Ignore others’ ‘better’ financial situations

Resist the temptation to judge your own financial situation in the light of others’ successes. These kinds of comparisons can make your financial stress quotient hit the roof! The point is to live within your means and find your own contentment.

Seeking happiness in ways not linked to material possessions may help in reducing financial stress. For example, volunteering to help those whose struggles make yours pale in comparison can give you a valuable perspective.

Work with a CFP® Professional to Overcome Financial Stress

It’s not a failing to ask for help in managing financial stress. Partnering with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner is a great way to gain guidance from a trained professional on how to define and live a balanced and financially stable life.

Reach out today to see how we can help you deal with financial stress.


Halbert Hargrove Global Advisors, LLC (“HH”) is an SEC registered investment adviser located in Long Beach, California. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about HH, including our registration status, fees, and services can be found at This blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as personalized investment advice. It should not be construed as a solicitation to offer personal securities transactions or provide personalized investment advice. The information provided does not constitute any legal, tax or accounting advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney and accountant. All opinions or views reflect the judgment of the author as of the publication date and are subject to change without notice. All information presented herein is considered to be accurate at the time of writing, but no warranty of accuracy is given and no liability in respect of any error or omission is accepted.