Sure, they’re called personal finances, but budget woes have a way of seeping into your professional life. After all, it can be hard to concentrate on a department meeting when you’re trying to calculate your credit card payments for the month. Worse yet, try acing a presentation when you’re tossing and turning over how you’ll ever be able to afford a bigger place.
“When you’re drowning in money stress or anxiety, it’s hard to focus at work—you’re distracted even if you don’t always realize it,” says Julie Casserly, a certified financial planner and author of “The Emotion Behind Money: Building Wealth from the Inside Out.”
Distraction is just the start of it. Research studies show that psychological stress of any kind can decrease your productivity. That means whether you work in banking or at a bakery, fretting about your finances could make you less of a standout employee and more likely to miss out on raises and promotions. In other words, money stress could wind up holding you back from earning more money—quite a Catch-22.
And when it comes to landing a new job or making a career leap, money stress can make it harder to pick the opportunity that will get you ahead in the long run. “You want the bigger paycheck right now to pay off debts or maintain a certain lifestyle—and you might not realize you’re picking a job that’s a bad fit,” says Casserly.
Calming your money worries will help you assess a new job offer with clear eyes and pick a position where you’ll thrive—which usually pays off in the long run. “When people are working from a place of passion and purpose, they’re more productive, and they’ll wind up being happier and advancing further,” Casserly says.
Of course, moving from stress to serenity isn’t as simple as wishing your money woes away. To really tamp down your stress level—and start standing out at the office—you have to confront your finances and create a plan. “Relieving anxiety is one of the best reasons to create financial systems,” says Jen Turrell, a financial personal trainer for women making career transitions.
Start by setting regular money dates with yourself—maybe every Tuesday night or the 1st and 15th of the month—to check your balances, review your budget and resolve any outstanding bills. Then look at which bills you can automate, so you have less to keep track of. “The more you can batch and automate your finances, the less mental math you’ll have to do throughout the month,” says Turrell. “You know the rent’s going to be paid on time and the credit card payment won’t be late. You can stop thinking about it.” Once you’ve got a system in place, you can focus, instead, on the work at hand.