No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it.

~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

I've been pretty stressed out lately over our impending move and all of the uncertainties surrounding it. In fact, I went down for the count last week with some kind of flu virus that was, I'm pretty sure, not unrelated to the recent upheaval in our lives. I'm sure a lot of people would deal with this stuff a lot better than me, but I've never been a person who enjoys sudden changes. I need time to digest things.

Just to give you a quick update, we're planning to move to a new town about two and a half to three hours away. We were going to build a new home with hopes of moving in before school starts in September. We've been going back and forth with the builder's real estate agent for about a month now with various house plans.

We were taking up a lot of our time with the planning and the real estate agent was often slow to respond. We were becoming more stressed out about the deadline and the prospect of making the thousands of decisions involved in building a new home – all while we're trying to get a new job/business off the ground.

Boiling Point

When  I got sick last week, that put even more pressure on Mr. Cents to take care of things regarding the new house and the new job, not to mention all of the regular tasks related to running a household that I normally handle. He was great, putting together some impromptu meals for the boys and doing what he could to help with the laundry and other tasks. I felt terrible knowing that he really didn't need any more stress at the time.

Both of us are pretty organized people who like to have a grip on how our lives turn out. Building a new home in another city is not conducive to that. So we decided to scrap that idea and look at the resale market. We drove to the new town on Friday to look at a few homes and unexpectedly found one that didn't exactly fit our parameters, but would be an excellent, functional home.

We ended up putting in an offer on that house the same day, but found out the next evening that another offer was successful instead. So now it's back to the drawing board. We recently started joking about becoming homeless. That was the boiling point. At that moment, I realized that my stress level had moved way out of line with reality.

Homeless? That's ridiculous. Technically, we don't have to move now. If we needed to wait a year, we could do that. In the meantime, we are living in a home we love. The mortgage will be paid off by the end of the year. The kids would rather not have it drag out that long, but if we can't find the right house, we may not have a choice.

Lessons Learned

We feel a little more relieved now that we've decided not to build a new house, although I'd be lying if I told you my stomach isn't still full of butterflies. Still, I've learned a lot from this experience so far and I'm amazed at how life often teaches us the same lessons over and over again – or maybe I'm just a slow learner. 😉

Here are a few ways to handle financial stress:

  • Know Yourself: Everyone deals with stress differently. My husband and I are kind of control freaks, so we eliminated some of the uncertainties of our situation by electing to buy an existing home rather than building a new one. Others might relish the thought of choosing every detail of a new home, but we've done it before and we just aren't up for tackling it again, even if it means compromising on some of the items on our wish list.
  • Take a Deep Breath: It's so easy to get wrapped up in trying to make sure everything turns out perfectly. Sometimes it's better to back off and let things play out. You can be prepared without being obsessed.
  • Put Things in Perspective: How serious is your situation? What's the worst case scenario? Is it as bad as you thought it was? Be realistic about your financial conditions.
  • Act, but Don't Overreact: If you find yourself worrying about your finances, it's important to formulate and act on a plan to eliminate your concerns. If you allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the situation (as I did) you can become paralyzed. Take it one step at a time and do your best to control what you can. Keep a few alternate plans in your pocket as well. Anything can happen.
  • Be Patient: You can be prepared, but you can't control everything. Sometimes you just have to wait to see how things progress. In the meantime, pressing the panic button at 30 second intervals won't help anyone.

Wow. That sounds like pretty good advice. Now if only I could get myself to follow it!

How do you handle financial stress?