The ABCs of Dealing with Financial Anxiety
Imagine this scenario: you log on to your favorite shopping app, browse through some items, and select what you want to buy. The prices are kind of steep, but you’re feeling pretty good about your choices, so you tap that “checkout” button. Pretty standard stuff, right?
But if you’re like other people out there, here’s another way that scene might play out: You get to the payment options, and your eyes immediately go back to the total price. Now it looks a little too high, so your heart pounds, and you gulp as your finger hovers over the final order button. Your breathing quickens, and for some reason, you might even be sweating. One thought overpowers everything else: “Can I really afford this?”
That’s just one of the many ways that anxiety about money can show up in our daily lives. Depending on our personal circumstances, it could be an occasional thing, or a more persistent problem. With everything that has happened since COVID-19, it’s one thing to worry, but adding the economic ripples of a pandemic to the equation could definitely lead to a different kind of unease. It’s called “financial anxiety”, with studies defining it as an actual “psychosocial syndrome” that involves “an unhealthy attitude” towards dealing with one’s “personal financial situation in an effective manner”.1 It’s been a thing for a while, but these days, it could also hit too close to home for anyone who’s feeling the effect of lockdowns, both financially and emotionally!
There’s definitely a link between mental health and the state of our finances2, so it’s best to get ahead and make sure that everything is running smoothly on both ends. Whether you’re worried about maintaining job security, starting a new business, or simply paying the bills, don’t let it get bad enough for you to stop living your best life! As Sheroes, we have the power to take control, so here are a few tips that could help us handle money anxiety as easily as ABC!
A is for acknowledging your financial situation – and your attitude towards it!
As they say, knowing is half the battle, so always be aware about those two things. Take a deep breath and ask yourself about money – how healthy are your finances? Do you have enough to live comfortably until the foreseeable future? What kinds of things do you spend on? Why? Whatever problem you may find in your answers, you’ll be one step closer to dealing with it.
Be honest when assessing your emotions, too! Do you spend too much time worrying about money, or do you avoid thinking about it at all? Why? Maybe you’ll find something related to your past experiences, like your upbringing. Or maybe it has something more to do with the present, like a lot of credit card debt that you need to address.
Gauging and understanding your behavior also helps you take note of any warning signs that you might need to heed. Money issues could be related to poor mental health, involving things like substance abuse, depression, and even suicide3. Overspending could even be a sign4, and that habit leads to a vicious cycle of spending and stressing out, so watch out!
B is for budgeting and saving your money – or bringing home more of it!
Once you’re aware of your situation, you can take action! The next thing to tackle could be figuring out what your money goals are and how to achieve them. No matter what your finances look like, it’s always a good idea to make a budget and stick to it. Making a financial plan can sound intimidating, but you just have to find one that works for you.
Planning can give you clarity about the past, present, and future – what you spent your money on, what you’re spending now, and what you want to spend later! The same also goes for what you’re earning and what you need to earn to sustain your lifestyle. Is saving money enough, or do you need to find more sources of income?
When you figure out your financial priorities, it’s easier to eliminate unnecessary sources of spending, save more money, or find a way to make more money. And because you now know where your money is going, it also gives you control over your finances, and therefore, control over any anxiety you might be feeling.
Another idea is to explore other options for where you can put your money, like a special savings account. Once you save up enough money to put in it, you can treat it as your very own emergency fund. Knowing that you have some extra money for a rainy day can definitely keep anxiety away!
C is calling for help when you know that you need it!
Like any other problem, it also helps to talk about money anxiety. If you’re feeling too stressed about your financial situation, try having a conversation about it with someone who can listen. You’re definitely not alone in feeling all these things about money, so you can open up to people you can trust, like your spouse, your parents, or your friends. Because they know you so well, your inner circle can be a valuable source of advice and insights.
If things get too overwhelming, maybe it’s also time to seek professional help, be it for your finances or your emotions. We all need as much help as we can get, so it’s okay to reach out to a therapist if you feel that your mental health is at risk, and seek advice from a trusted financial planner or advisor for money matters.
Now that you know your ABC’s for dealing with money anxiety, don’t forget that help is always here when you need it, especially with a whole community of fellow Sheroes behind you!
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