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Break Those Money-Sapping Stress Habits

Break Those Money-Sapping Stress Habits

Photo courtesy of Stuartpilbrow via Creative Commons

Stacy Baker | MainStreet.com

March 10, 2010

It’s easy to slip into bad habits when you’re under stress, and unfortunately many of our anxiety fixes impact our pocketbooks, making matters worse, rather than better.

“Stress seems to create behaviors such as over-eating, substance abuse, or shopping, that result in immediate, short-term gratification,” says Dr. Leslie Torburn, author of Stop the Stress Habit. “When we’re stressed, the bigger financial picture just doesn’t come into the decision making process.”

Big mistake.

An immediate-gratification mindset triggers our need to make ourselves feel better in the moment, despite the impact on our health or wallet.

“Stress leads people to seek comfort that is often obtained by spending money,” she says. “It’s important to step back and see how you spend your money. What are your financial goals and how are these bad habits sabotaging those goals?”

Here, Dr. Torburn’s cheap, but effective, fixes for the five most expensive stress habits:

1. Smoking. At around $9 per pack in some places, a pack-a-day cigarette habit can cost you $63 per week, or three grand a year. Just one extra pack per week (less than three cigarettes more a day) can up your expenses nearly $500 a year.

How to save yourself: Dr. Torburn suggests that getting your body moving can re-focus your attention off your craving and onto good health. Plus, filling your lungs with fresh air feels a lot better than smoke.

“If you’re at work and [usually] take a break to smoke, go walking instead, or walk for five minutes before you start smoking,” she says. “Take your breaks with non-smokers rather than fellow smokers. Sometimes all you need is a distraction to curb the temptation.”

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