Stress is not in and of itself good or bad. It is experienced differently by everyone
and involves us physically, mentally and emotionally. Stress can motivate, and stress
can energize. It can create positive or negative results, depending ultimately on
how we perceive the stressor and how we respond to it. Consciously working to develop
skills to improve our ability to handle stress can make a difference in the amount
of influence stress commands in our lives.
The longer we postpone dealing with stress, or the longer stress remains unmanaged,
the greater the risk of anxiety, increased tension and other negative results including
negative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. Some types of negative physical
reactions experience under stress may include rapid heartbeat or breathing, headache,
stiff neck, tight or sore shoulders, backache, upset stomach or nausea. Mental and
emotional indicators of stress may be expressed through worry, frustration, exhaustion,
lack of concentration, jumpiness, moodiness, irritability, intolerance, and extreme
highs and lows in attitude or outlook, like depression.
The causes of stress come from all areas of our lives. Our everyday lives produce
many small stressors from seemingly innocuous influences like the weather, traffic
jams, road construction or our expectations, both of others and ourselves. In addition,
health issues, working situations, and life transitions like getting married, having
a baby, losing your job, the empty nest, divorce and retirement can produce great
amounts of stress with which to cope.
Some fun facts about stress from my.webmd.com:
So how does all this talk of stress relate to credit and debt?
Consider this: more than half of all employees nationwide are living paycheck to
paycheck. Meanwhile, according to the Federal Reserve, on average, twenty-two percent
of a household’s wages are committed to paying the interest and a part of
their principal debts, while twenty million households’ pay anywhere from
thirty-five to seventy percent. So, if a third of your income goes to taxes and
twenty-two percent of your income goes to making payment on interest, just keeping
up with minimum payments can be stressful.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who owes more than they can afford to
pay each month. Stress accumulates as each day more credit card bills arrive, embarrassment
about their financial situation increases stress levels, and you end up unable to
get the sleep you need to be effective at work as you lay awake at night worrying
about what to do with your debt. In some cases, one will try to carry the burden
alone, increasing the family debt load in an attempt to stay ahead and then tries
to hide the problem from their spouse. (Please, please note: sooner or later, they
always find out.)
Now you start getting behind on the bills. (Almost sixty percent of cardholders
were charged a late fee last year.) The stress continues to build. The creditors
start calling you at work. It’s always on your mind. Balances continue to
rise while late charges and overlimit fees continue to accrue. Does this sound like
anyone you know?
People can actually make themselves sick mentally and physically with the worries
debt brings. (Not to mention the potential for additional medical bills due to dealing
with the effects). Our society pays immensely for the toll of personal debt. It
seems that many times it is the family structure that suffers the most. It can start
with the shame of the breadwinner’s being unable to repay the debts. It is
not uncommon for parents to hide debt problems from their children (children shouldn’t
have to cope with adult worries), yet parents will break out in rages of anger when
the child asks for something that cost money, creating family problems beyond not
being able to pay the bills.
Sometimes it snowballs into the "family secret." The family may isolate themselves
from friends and neighbors. Parents may have children answer the phone to avoid
bill collectors and not pursue the social contacts or networking necessary to further
their careers-in essence, unwittingly continuing debt problems that might be eased
through promotions and pay increases. Sadly, children, in an effort to help out
Mom and Dad, may avoid making friends, not bring friends home, or withdraw from
social interaction themselves to avoid difficult or uncomfortable questions.
Is it any wonder that more people are afraid of financial problems than are afraid
Again, does this sound like anyone you know?
Co-workers? Friends? Family? Or possibly, even you?
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from debt stress, don’t
Tell them no one has to face debt stress alone.
Let them know help is available and just a phone call away. Credit Advisors Foundation
Talking to a certified credit counselor can help ease the burden. The credit counselors
will help to find patterns or repeated causes of debt stress AND assist in the creation
of a plan of stress relief for your specific situation.
While eighty-five percent of what we worry about never happens, WE CAN improve or
change the other fifteen percent of what we worry about - including debt worries.
The physical, emotional and mental impact of negative debt stress doesn’t
have to keep you down.
Do it now. Turn your debt stress around into motivation for new opportunities and
a new low stress tomorrow.
The Word Search puzzle includes words from the articles from this months newsletter:
As of October 28, 2004 balancing your checkbook to your bank statement will become
more important than ever before. Why? Because the Check Clearing for the 21st Century
Act goes into effect as of that date.
What is Check 21? Simply put, Check 21 will allow your bank to replace the paper
check you write with what is known as a "substitute check" made from a digital copy
of the original. While Check 21 involves creating digital images of check (which
may be processed electronically) they are still processed under the laws and regulation
of paper checks. (With electronic check conversion or e-check, which some creditors
already use, a check is converted into an electronic funds transfer and routed through
the Automated Clearing House-ACH-just like your EFT payment to CAF.)
How would a Check 21 appear on your monthly bank statement? The substitute check
will still list with any other checks while the e-check appears with other ACH/EFT
What’s covered under Check 21? All checks are covered, including, for example,
business checks, payroll checks, cashier’s checks and personal checks.
Check 21 allow banks to make the decision of whether to process substitute checks
manually or electronically, but everyone must accept the substitute checks just
as they would the original.
What do consumer groups say about Check 21?
You won’t be able to get your original paper checks back because your bank
doesn’t have them.
These substitute checks you write may clear sooner, but Check 21 does not require
banks to recognize deposits as fast as they clear checks. As a result, you may or
may not gain access to the funds from the checks you deposit sooner to cover checks
that are clearing faster. This may increase your chances of being assessed bounced
Remember, not all checks copies are equal. The consumer must specifically ask their
bank (and it is recommended that this is done in writing) for a substitute check-which
states clearly "This is a LEGAL COPY of your check. You can use it the same way
you would use the original check." You may not receive the same rights with other
types of copies.
While Check 21 will save money for banks on processing and transporting the original
checks, banks are not required to pass savings on to consumers and may charge additional
fees for certain services.
Finally, there still are risks that substitute checks will be improperly charged
to consumer’s account or duplicated with the clearing of both the substitute
check and the original check. Generally, banks are allowed 10 business days to recredit
the consumer’s account prior to the completion of the investigation when a
claim is filed, but only up to $2500. Remember, exceptions include new accounts,
suspicions of fraud, or accounts that are repeatedly overdrawn.
Watch for updates from your bank about Check 21. If you are unclear about your bank’s
policies and procedures in regard to the ACT, don’t be afraid to keep asking
questions to get the answers you need or take your business to a bank that can explain
it to your satisfaction.
Fall brings warm, spicy aromas from your kitchen with this recipe:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Adjust oven rack to lower position, placing tops of pan at center of oven.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease bottom of 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
Stir together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs in large bowl.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Pour into pan.
Bake for one hour and fifteen minutes (until toothpick inserted in center comes
Cool for ten minutes.
Remove from pan, loosening sides with knife if needed.
Cool completely on a wire rack. (Approximately two hours).
Slice and serve with whipped topping.
Makes six-two slice servings.
83 cents per serving.