Career 17 June 2017
Spring is often the busiest time of year in most real estate markets. If you are considering moving soon, there are some financial moves you may want to consider first. Whether a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions to ensure you are in a great financial position before moving.
Is Your Credit Score in Tip-Top Shape?
Your credit report is essentially a “report card” of your financial habits, and your credit score is your grade. Your score provides a snapshot to potential lenders of how risky a borrower you are. Therefore, maintaining a good credit score is essential when it comes time to get a mortgage. The lower your score, the greater your chances of getting stuck with a higher interest rate and smaller loan amount, or worse – getting denied altogether. If your credit score could use improving, it may be worth putting off home buying for at least a few months until you can bring it up a bit. It may not be ideal, but it’ll be worth it when you lock in that low interest rate and get approved for a bigger loan amount to buy your dream house.
Have You Considered the True Costs of Home Ownership?
While renting is fairly straightforward and is a predictable monthly expense, the costs of home ownership are entirely different. There are factors that can affect your financial well-being when buying a home, and if you’re not careful, could end up costing you more money than expected.
Some things to take into account are moving costs, closing costs, property taxes, the amount of interest you pay each month on your mortgage, utilities, maintenance costs such as chimney and eves trough cleaning, HOA fees, homeowner’s insurance, and unexpected repairs. Some of these costs are predictable monthly expenses that can be built into your budget, while others may pop up when you least expect it. You need to be financially prepared for either scenario.
Especially if you are a first-time home buyer, you’ll want to ensure you create a budget beforehand, so you can know what to expect and gauge how comfortable you’ll be, since the costs will likely be drastically different than what you’re used to dealing with.
A budget is important for seasoned homeowners as well. Whether you are moving to a bigger place, to a different town, or downsizing, the budget you are used to sticking to will be affected to some degree. Make sure you go over your anticipated costs before moving and how it affects your monthly budget.
Do You Have an Emergency Fund?
Remember those unexpected repairs I just mentioned? That’s where it comes in handy to have an emergency fund. The last thing you want when dealing with an already stressful situation such as a leaking roof or broken refrigerator is to be scrambling to figure out how to pay for it. An emergency fund is there to save you in a pinch and is something all homeowners should have.
A home is one of the biggest financial commitments you will make in your lifetime. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, or simply looking for a new place, you should ensure the process is as stress-free and cost-effective as possible. Make sure you consider the various financial aspects of moving and home buying before you take action, to ensure that your finances stay in tiptop shape.
5 min read
When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.
The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.
While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.
Risks of Reaching for Another Drink
Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.
Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.
While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.
Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress
Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!
Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:
- Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
- Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
- Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.
Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.
Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First
It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.
However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.
If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.
I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.