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Retirement Planning and Stress July 24, 2008

Posted by retirementwithaplan in Uncategorized.
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This post originally appeared on another blog server on 01.03.08

Stress

I write in the book: “money creates a layer of protection.” And as we all know, when our protection is threatened, we become anxious. That anxiousness leads to stress, and, we all know that stress can lead to health problems.

Thomas Holmes worked in a tuberculosis clinic in Seattle during the fifties. While physicians have often documented the connection between health and certain mind body situations, Dr Holmes along with Richard Rahe created a table to find out just how much stress in a person’s life was directly related to the patient’s chances of recovery from illness.

While his research was considered by many to be rudimentary and even as some researchers questioned his methods, the link that was previously only thought to exist, was now measurable. Dr. Holmes had made a notable breakthrough. According to an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, “Although his peers did not necessarily agree with all of his conclusions, Holmes apparently did succeed in convincing them that his work was important.”

And while “inexact terminology and their inability to consider the fact that everyone responds differently to stressful situations” made the rating scales the target of criticism, the fact remains, no matter what you call it, life events or stressful occurrences, everyday life is fraught with problems that could have an effect on not only your daily financial decision making, but the long-term attempt at retirement planning.

Critics have also pointed out that their work asked patients to look back at their lives and pinpoint various details. This, according to the scientific community creates a retrospective analysis and is not considered the best form of scientific discovery.

In retirement planning, a look back can only afford you a glimpse of how your future may be. Granted, this retrospection can be stressful in and of itself. It can point out missteps and flaws of character that Benedict Carey of the New York Times called “regret with a dash of bitters”. Mr. Carey also refers to this looking back at what might have been a “corrosive exercise”.

But retirement planning needs to begin with a determination of where you are – and that is difficult without a look at how you got there.

SCORING FOR THE HOLMES-RAHE SOCIAL READJUSTMENT SCALE

Less than 150 life change units

=

30% chance of developing

a stress-related illness

150 – 299 life change units

=

50% chance of illness

Over 300 life change units

=

80% chance of illness


Life Events

Score

Death of spouse

100

Divorce

73

Marital separation from mate

65

Detention in jail, other institution

63

Death of a close family member

63

Major personal injury or illness

53

Marriage

50

Fired from work

47

Marital reconciliation

45

Retirement

45

Major change in the health or
behavior of a family member

44

Pregnancy

40

Sexual difficulties

39

Gaining a new family member
(e.g., through birth, adoption, oldster moving, etc.)

39

Major business re-adjustment
(e.g., merger, reorganization, bankruptcy)

39

Major change in financial status

38

Death of close friend

37

Change to different line of work

36

Major change in the number of
arguments with spouse

35

Taking out a mortgage or loan
for a major purchase

31

Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan

30

Major change in responsibilities at work

29

Son or daughter leaving home
(e.g., marriage, attending college)

29

Trouble with In-laws

29

Outstanding personal achievement

28

Spouse beginning or ceasing to
work outside the home

26

Beginning or ceasing formal schooling

26

Major change in living conditions

25

Revision of personal habits
(dress, manners, associations, etc.)

24

Trouble with boss

23

Major change in working hours or conditions

20

Change in residence

20

Change to a new school

20

Major change in usual type and/or
amount of recreation

19

Major change in church activities
(a lot more or less than usual)

19

Major change in social activities
(clubs, dancing, movies, visiting)

18

Taking out a mortgage or loan for a lesser
purchase (e.g., for a car, TV, freezer, etc.)

17

Major change in sleeping habits

16

Major change in the number of
family get-togethers

15

Major change in eating habits

15

Vacation

13

Christmas season

12

Minor violations of the law
(e.g., traffic tickets, etc. )

11

TOTAL

_____

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