Lynn MacNeilManaging Your Money

A 2024 survey done by FP Canada revealed that for the seventh year in a row, Canadians say money is their top source of stress. The numbers have increase over each of the past three years, and interestingly, women report higher levels of stress about money than men.  Money-related stress is not just a matter of “not having enough”, it’s more than that.  In my experience, the stress and anxiety over money comes from the way we think and interact with money and can’t be solved by simply having more of it.

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Now, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or taking huge financial risks, of course you’re going to have more money stress. But financial stress is not limited to the “less fortunate” or high risk takers. A 2023 survey conducted by Bloomberg reveals that even millionaires are feeling financially insecure, and worry about money. So, it seems that having more may reduce, but does not eliminate anxiety.

“Most people think that having more money will make them feel more safe and secure and free of worry, but based on the research, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case.”

So how does all this money stress affect our health?  We’ve often heard the expression “stress kills”. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death – heart disease and cancer being the top two (2014). It has become clear through many studies that the relationship between health and wealth are strongly connected at every level of the economic ladder, and that more wealth is associated with better health.

What I find even more interesting is that a 2015 study, done by Nancy Adler at the University of California, showed that it’s not just wealth that correlated with good physical and psychological health; even more highly correlated with good health was people’s own perception of their socio-economic or “wealth” status. So my simplified summary of that is: if you reprogram the way you think about and interact with money, and manage financial stress in a healthy way, you can improve your health. Simple? Maybe. But not necessarily easy.

Most people think that having more money will make them feel more safe and secure and free of worry, but based on the research, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case.  Virtually all millionaires feel fortunate for what they have and recognize that the average household faces bigger challenges than they do, according to the UBS report “When is Enough…Enough? Why the wealthy can’t get off the treadmill” (2018). But many of them feel an “ever-present fear of losing it all”. Considering the current economic and political climate, with ongoing inflation issues, high interest rates, global conflicts, and political uncertainty, there is no lack of financial issues to worry about.  I will point out that having some anxiety around money can be a good thing.  It can sometimes push us to reconsider our spending habits, get a second opinion on our investment portfolios, or prompt us to sit down and come up with a plan.

In my practice, I start out by helping people define their fear or anxiety over money.  Sometimes it’s an underlying worry that they don’t think about every day, but it’s always somewhere in the back of their minds. Or they worry about money but lack clarity on exactly why. Sometimes it comes from past experiences, childhood events, or stories they have.  Some financial anxieties can be quelled by taking simple actions. For example, comprehensive projections, a proper risk assessment, and getting a second opinion can all help alleviate certain worries. Boundaries, whether they be social, financial, or moral, provide a structure for life that most people thrive on, so financial boundaries can provide a helpful framework to work within and provide a sense of control. But sometimes we need to go deeper.

Refocusing money conversations on empowerment and educated choices (knowledge) can transform money conversations from fear to confidence. Own your actions and take responsibility for your relationship with money – how you earned it, how you spend it, how you share it, and how you save it. Having financial professionals around you that you trust is critical, but taking responsibility for the decisions you make is empowering. Make sure you have relationships with your advisors that support you to truly understand the options that you have and the decisions that you are making, and also the potential consequences and trade-offs of those decisions. This will help bring you a sense of clarity, confidence and control over your money. The above-mentioned survey by the APA confirms that those who manage money stress most effectively don’t do it alone. They have a solid support network that helps empower them and does not make them feel judged for their decisions, or for their lack of knowledge or experience.

“Having financial professionals around you that you trust is critical, but taking responsibility for the decisions you make is empowering.”

You can have the best advisors, best investments, and best financial plan in the world, but in order to manage your fears and have true peace with money, your fundamental beliefs and values must be clear. Study after study confirms that money won’t make us happy. Obviously, we need our basic needs met, but we need so much less than we think we do.  Money is not a badge of success. It may be an indication of financial success, but “life success” is about so much more. One of the most stress-reducing things you can do with your money is to give some away. Generous people are happier, healthier, more satisfied with life, and have deeper relationships with others. Many people search for security and believe that it can be found in money. Our search for security and happiness in life is essential – we just need to start looking for it in the right places.

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Lynn MacNeil, F.PL., CIM®, is a Wealth Advisor, Portfolio Manager and Investment Advisor with Richardson Wealth Limited in Montreal, with over 29 years of experience working with professionals and pre-retirees. For a second opinion, private financial consultation, or more information on this topic or on any other investment or financial matter, please contact Lynn MacNeil at 514.981.5796 or [email protected]. Or visit our website at

The opinions expressed in this report are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of Richardson Wealth Limited or its affiliates. Assumptions, opinions and estimates constitute the author’s judgment as of the date of this material and are subject to change without notice. We do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of this material, and it should not be relied upon as such. Before acting on any recommendation, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Richardson Wealth Limited is a member of Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Richardson Wealth is a trademark of James Richardson & Sons, Limited used under license.

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