322 – November 18
“The wolf will hire himself out very cheaply as a shepherd.”—Russian Proverb
One of my big disappointments in business was discovering that there are people who will hire you, take and use the gifts you deliver, and then won’t pay you. Even worse, they never intended to pay you.
A local businessman rang up my bookkeeping service one Thursday afternoon with a rush job. He had a meeting with an accountant scheduled for the following Monday, but his books hadn’t been reconciled. He was panicked—he needed a year’s worth of bank reconciliations done by Friday. I said we could help him and he brought in all his bank statements.
Jim, one of my top staff bookkeepers, worked that evening and Friday morning to complete his work on time, and he thanked us profusely when he picked up his records. I gave him an invoice and he said that he had forgotten his checkbook, but he would drop off a check on Monday.
Well, you know the end of this story. Monday came and went—no check. A week went by, then two—no check. Finally, after several bills and a demand letter, he informed me that the work we did was no good and he wasn’t going to pay us. (This is a favorite defense for these people—they complain about the quality of the work in order to have a justifiable reason for not paying.)
Now, Demon Chellie started howling at this point. Righteous indignation consumed me and I felt abused and betrayed. I sued him in small claims court and the judge split the difference and ordered him to pay us half the total bill. He didn’t pay that either, and after a while, I wrote it off as a bad debt and vowed to learn my life lessons in this case: 1) Get a deposit before starting work; and 2) Don’t let them have the work until you get paid. (After all, you don’t leave Ralph’s with groceries without paying for them first.)
Now I had to work on the inside job. I had to rid myself of anger, resentment, and the mental reprimands I was giving myself for being stupid. I remembered the Law of Karma, that what goes around comes around, and that “Judgment is mine sayeth the Lord.” I moved on to better thoughts and better customers.
Well, the Lord’s judgment works pretty well. The next winter, in a year where torrential rains and mud-slides plagued the Los Angeles area, I opened up the local paper to discover that this man’s house had slid off a cliff and was completely demolished. A moment of complete glee overwhelmed me as Demon Chellie rejoiced in the misfortune of her enemy. Saint Chellie had to do some major coaxing to get me back into a more compassionate state of mind.
Amazingly enough, two years later, this man called me again and asked me to do some bookkeeping work for him. I’m sure he was puzzled by my laughter as I exclaimed, “No thanks!”
“All my clients are rich and wonderful and happy to pay me!
15 Ways Financial Stress Affects You Physically
The state of the economy has left many people and families worried about money. From paying bills to finding a job to coping with high medical costs, it can be hard to think of anything else when financial woes come your way. It’s no secret that stress from finances can play a big role in changing your mental state, causing mood swings or even depression, but many may not realize what a marked effect it can also have on your physical well-being. Stress, whether from finances or other conflicts in your life, can do a number on your overall health, often in ways that you may not even realize are related to stress. If you’re going through a stressful financial situation, make sure you take good care of your body, take time to relax, and get help to make sure these harmful physical effects don’t take a toll on you.
- Lost sleep
One of the earliest signs that stress is affecting your body is insomnia. Lack of sleep can cause some immediate effects on the body that can make getting through the day pretty hard, something no financially stressed person needs on top of everything else. While there may not be a way to get more sleep without getting rid of what’s stressing you, you can set yourself up for better rest with a good bedtime routine every night.
- Less money for preventative care
There is no way around it, health insurance is expensive. For those facing financial problems, it can be one of the first things cut from the budget, or may simply be lost along with exiting a job. Whatever the case may be, lack of insurance most often leads to lack of preventative care, or any care at all. Those worried about running up huge medical bills may not be as willing to head to the doctor when they see troubling signs or early indications of bigger problems. In fact, not only are those without insurance less likely to have major diseases detected early, they’re also more likely to die prematurely than those who are insured. That’s a pretty big health effect, and a reminder that no financial issues are worth risking your health.
- Increased levels of anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are mental effects of stress, but they can have some physical manifestations as well. Those who are chronically stressed may begin to have panic attacks, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and increased aches and pains throughout the body. These symptoms are related both to the underlying stress and to the depression and anxiety it may cause.
- A greater risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke
Stress is hard on the body, especially chronic stress, and can lead to some very serious health issues if not kept in check. Among the scariest of these is an increase in your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Part of this may be due to those who are stressed engaging in unhealthy behaviors like drinking and smoking, but scientists think there may be a stronger correlation. Chronic stress may weaken the immune system and put undue pressure on internal organs and processes, which can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions down the road.
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Think about something that stresses you out? Does your heart beat faster? Stress can have a big effect on your heart and larger cardiovascular system. It can make your heart rate increase, which can in turn increase your blood pressure. Prolonged stress, and raised heart rate and blood pressure, can lead to heart arrhythmias and hypertension, both very serious heart conditions that could segue into heart attack, heart disease, or stroke. If stress is raising your blood pressure, take time out to just relax, meditate, or cool down throughout the day. Your heart will thank you for it.
- Greater numbers of digestive problems like ulcers, constipation, and diarrhea
When people are stressed, they rarely eat well. This can be part of what causes digestive problems, but stress itself can also take a toll and weaken the immune system, letting the digestive track become infected or inflamed. This can lead to greater instances of conditions like ulcers, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and even heartburn. Those who had these conditions before their financial stress began may see them flare up or become worse under duress. While most digestive conditions are not caused by stress, many, if not all, can be exacerbated by it.
- Hair loss
When you’re already stressed out, the last thing you need to worry about is the state of your follicles, but you may not be able to avoid hair loss if you’re under serious, prolonged anxiety from financial matters. There are three types of hair loss that can be associated with stress: alopecia areata, when white blood cells attack and kill hair follicles; telogen effluvium, when stress pushes growing hair into a resting phase; and trichotillomania, when a stressed person pulls out his hair as a way of coping with anxiety and tension. Hair loss can also lead to lowered self esteem, self image, and overall confidence, none of which are helpful in getting back on your financial feet.
- Decreased libido
When you’re worried about how to pay the rent, your love life may not be your biggest concern. And it’s not just due to distraction. Stress can actually cause other factors that cause a nose-dive in libido, like lack of sleep, emotional distress, and weight gain. These all combine to make it hard to want to be intimate with a partner, even if you’ve never had problems with interest in sex in the past. Talking through your problems, getting rest, and enjoying intimate time can all help battle the libido-killing effects of stress.