Managing money can be stressful. Inflation rates are rising, budgeting is a challenge, and surprise car repair or medical bills are constantly popping up. When people have to make large, unanticipated purchases or notice that their bank accounts are getting low, they almost always experience some stress. However, financial anxiety goes beyond an ordinary stress response elicited by a challenging situation.
What is Financial Anxiety?
Most people assume that financial anxiety involves worrying about money, checking budgets and account balances frequently, or getting stressed about applying for a loan. In reality, anxiety goes much deeper. Financial anxiety can make people obsess over every detail of how they spend their money and feel like failures as a result of where they are in terms of savings and investments.
Anxiety over not having sufficient funds to cover daily expenses is just one form of this problem, although it is the most common one. Financial anxiety can also cause people to obsess over every dollar saved or to worry constantly about losing their money. Basically, if any aspect of a person’s financial life is disrupting their day-to-day routines or keeping them up at night, financial anxiety may be to blame.
Understanding the Root Causes
Taking control of financial anxiety requires uncovering its root cause. For some, it’s day-to-day expenses. For others, it’s investments or big-picture financial planning. Identifying the trigger causing feelings of fear and anxiety isn’t just the first step towards resolving the problem. It can also make the experience of anxiety less intense.
Create a Plan
Having both actionable goals and a plan for attaining them in place can make it easier to control any kind of stress, including financial anxiety. For the majority of people, that means putting together a list of bills, debts, and daily living expenses and prioritizing them, then finding attainable goals. Focusing on what’s important first instead of trying to address everything at once gives people confidence and reduces anxiety.
For those who have sufficient money to pay their bills but stress about other aspects of their financial lives, the plan might be different. For someone who stresses about saving every dollar, for instance, it might make more sense to focus on money put aside for daily wants and needs.
Set Aside Time
Most people set aside time to work on budgets and deal with bills. Those with financial anxiety may benefit from setting aside time to focus on their stress. It may sound counterintuitive, but spending 10 to 20 minutes a day at the same time every day worrying about money can reduce the hold of financial anxiety over someone’s life throughout the rest of the day.
Don’t Let Money Define Worth
People who allow themselves to feel that their worth is defined by salary tend to experience more financial anxiety. Focusing on other aspects of a job that feel fulfilling can reduce this problem. It tends to raise self-esteem instead of lowering it by making people think about what they are good at and why it brings them joy instead of comparing themselves to others, as is the case when people start to confuse net worth with human value.
It takes time for anyone to get their finances in order if they haven’t been taught from a young age how to manage money. For those with financial anxiety, getting fears under control and developing healthier attitudes toward money adds an extra layer of complexity. Be patient and keep at it.
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