Dealing With Financial Anxiety
© Sharon Mccutcheon
Financial anxiety is that overwhelming wave of unease that is usually associated with the thought of money.
Much like the symptoms of general anxiety, financial anxiety induces worry, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Some other signs include feeling depressed about money, an inability to change financial behaviors, overspending, an elite level of frugality and a reliance on others to deal with your finances. Tackling money issues can be overwhelming, but there are ways to approach your financial situation to reduce stress and the feeling of burden.
How to deal with it
Focus on the positive.
Try to visualize a positive financial outcome for yourself. It is empowering to know exactly where your money is going. Approaching your financial situation with a clear mind gives you the ability to delegate your money to things that bring you joy. Identify affirmations and practice daily gratitude. Every day write something down that you are grateful for. This can be personal or financial. Reflect back on days where you are feeling especially overwhelmed by money or any life situations. Pay attention to the way you physically react to thoughts of money or financing. Does it bring you unease? If you have a reaction, acknowledge it. Find a way to work with your emotions rather than being your emotions.
Prioritize your spending and try to set aside some money each month for savings. This can be as simple as dedicating time each week to outline your overall income and costs in a budget journal. Set achievable budgeting goals and be realistic with yourself on this road to stability. Consider your money mindset. Are you painting a picture of yourself that is within your budget guidelines? Standards should be set with the intention of reaching them. So make it easy for yourself and put the bar in an accessible place. If you are in a relationship, find time to sit with your partner to discuss potential budgeting goals to ensure you are on the same financial page. This will reduce the potential of any possible miscommunication.
A great budgeting tactic is the 50/30/20 rule. This means directing 50% of your earnings to your current needs (housing, food, gas, medicine). Then, 30% of it goes to wants (vacations, shopping, classes) and 20% to savings. If you have current debt, start by using your 20% to pay that off first. For most of us, budgeting isn’t something that we look forward to. So rather than dreading the process, focus on the positivity and clarity it will bring to your life.
Save up for big purchases and say no to the credit card.
Making a purchase with money that you’ve worked hard to save feels much more rewarding.
Opting to use your credit card when your finances aren’t in order will only delay the stress that comes with actually purchasing the item. It seems all fine and dandy until the credit card bill rolls around and you still don’t have money to pay it off. Unfortunately, when you sign up for credit cards, the bank really only considers your income. This means that lingering debt will seldom steer them away. Leaving you with more debt. Credit cards are wonderful for building your credit, but are like playing with fire if one is in a state of financial instability. So, use your 20% from above to chip away at credit card debt, while setting aside some for any large purchases you may want to have in the future.
Get rid of financial shame and forgive yourself.
If you made a poor financial decision, acknowledge it.
However, don’t let it set a precedent for your future behavior. It is easy for us to get caught up in old ways, so we must set up emotional barriers and construct a strict financial plan. The second we get behind, we feel defeated. This leads us to push away our problems. Unfortunately with money, those problems won’t go away and they will likely only get worse. So, shake the thoughts that are bringing you down and revert back to the budget we discussed earlier.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
With social media, television and everything else that technology has brought us, it is no wonder we compare ourselves to others. We are constantly being updated on the whereabouts and doings of everyone in our lives, instantaneously.
Truth is, we are comparing our harsh realities to the perfect pictures painted by those in our phones. Just because someone posts pictures with expensive clothes, in beautiful places, displaying their nearly seamless life, does not mean you know their current financial state. The second you begin investing your time in making these social comparisons, you begin to lack the focus and drive necessary for getting your life in order.
Wellbeing tips for reducing financial anxiety
- Accept that the universe has mysterious ways of displaying it’s emotions. The events taking place in your life will happen and pass. There are certain events that you cannot control. This is especially applicable when it comes to money. Find a balance between being responsible and letting things go. Holding on to ill feelings toward yourself and your financial state will only set you back from reaching a positive money mentality.
- Learn to practice various techniques of practicing relaxation. Play and experiment with yoga and meditation. These two activities will help disconnect you from your external world and find peace from within. Working such practices into your daily routine can help improve longevity when it comes to maintaining a stable mood.
- Exercise regularly and eat healthy meals. The importance of feeding and fueling your body is immensely great and can play an important role in your mental state. Regular physical activity can decrease your levels of stress by reducing cortisol excretion in your brain and can boost your serotonin production, making you feel happy. Activities like running, walking, hiking and biking serve as great escapes from work and the aspects of life that may cause you to feel anxious.