By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
Life is complicated, and there never seems to be enough money to go around. Even when you make a lot of money, worry about risk and future problems can lead to financial anxiety. When negative feelings get to be too much, they can lead to serious psychological issues.
If you have financial anxiety, then I have good news. Join me today as I run down six of the most essential steps to overcoming financial anxiety and bringing health and prosperity to your pocketbook.
The first and most important step to overcoming financial anxiety is to be kind to yourself. It’s hard to respond well to criticism and punishment, so it’s important you treat yourself right. Recognize that you have strengths and weaknesses, and commit yourself to learning and growth.
Every journey starts with a single step, and how you begin sets the tone for the rest of your journey. Start by making a list of all the things you want to do better. Find one of the easiest ones that you know you can accomplish and focus on that first. This will build confidence and excitement.
I use money-saving apps to give me an edge on my budget. Because they are on my phone, they are always accessible so I can make updates in real time instead of at the end of the month.
Getting more organized can be easy. You don’t have to make your budget perfect, just better than it was yesterday. If you invest just five minutes a day, you can make enormous progress in a week while minimizing your financial anxiety. This is how I am developing better money management habits that will be useful for years to come.
Your individual needs are constantly changing. Sometimes people keep doing things out of habit long after the need has passed. Once you have an organized budget, you can examine your spending habits more easily. In some cases, you will find that you are spending money on things you no longer use or that have better (and cheaper) alternatives.
My favorite example involves food. When I learned how to cook, I discovered how fun and relaxing it can be to make my own meals. Eating out and going to bars can rack up a hefty price tag without any tangible benefits.
There’s no help like professional help. We all know where some of our problems are hiding, but professional guidance can give you confidence. Financial anxiety fades when you are part of a team. Find the best financial advisors in your area and take advantage of free online resources, and you will be empowered to make better financial choices.
If you feel excessive anxiety at the idea of managing or tracking your money, you should probably avoid high-risk investments. Schedule an appointment with a financial advisor (your employer may have recommendations). Tell them about your anxiety, and they will be better informed to help you explore your options.
Change is hard, and it is easy to overestimate your abilities. When starting something big, it’s a good idea to pick something easy for your first step. The smaller, the better. Once you get the first item checked off your list, you have created a pattern for success. Create a habit of success by completing several quick, easy goals before tacking something big. A bill tracker app can be extraordinarily useful to help you trach quick and easy wins. Check with your bank and see if they have something to offer before looking at thirdparty applications.
Once you have created a tradition of success, break down your big or difficult goals into smaller pieces. Create processes and methods that can help you find solutions in an organized way.
As you go along, you will face failures and setbacks. Learning how to deal with failure or disappointment is important. On little things, it may be as simple as taking a break. With bigger problems, you may need more sophisticated answers. It is important that you realize that everyone fails, so it’s okay. The most important thing to remember is not to quit.
How you set your goals is more important than the goals themselves. When I tackle a new problem, I like to give myself wiggle room so as I learn more I can adjust and adapt.
When you have become a smart spender, you can change your focus and learn the best way to save for retirement. You don’t need to double your money every year. A slow and steady approach can yield powerful results. Put a reasonable amount of money aside from each paycheck into sensible funds you don’t have to watch every single day.
Everything you do in life starts with an emotion. How you feel about your activities dictates how you will act and what you will accomplish.
Money concerns cause emotional turmoil, even when things turn in your favor. If you avoid making investment decisions because of emotional turmoil, there is help available. Specialized financial therapists have been trained to help you manage your money in a way that will improve your mental health while maximizing your profits. They are specialists in financial anxiety and have many useful resources.
If you don’t need or want a financial therapist, you can still get an emotional boost from a good financial advisor or money manager. The experts at Bob Fuest money management are specialists in crisis management, so they can help you through most any situation. The more comfortable and knowledgeable you are about your choices, the less anxiety you will feel.
If you learn how to save money better, that will also help you reduce your anxiety. My favorite example is learning to cook. Preparing your meals at home is the secret to cheap healthy meals that are also delicious.
Meals used to be social functions where family met around the table and talked. Today they seem more like pit stops, and if you happen to run into somebody else at the table, you’re both staring at your phones. The people you live with truly care about you and want to help. They are your support network. Mealtime can be relaxing and rewarding when you do it right. It’s almost like a miniature therapy session. Transforming mealtime into a social ritual can help create stronger and more intimate bonds with your family and loved ones. The more positive experiences you have in life, the easier it will be to overcome financial anxiety.
Look through everything you do and see if you can find something that isn’t worth what you’re paying. Maybe you bought too large a house, or the apartment you live in is too expensive. Perhaps your car is more expensive than you can afford. Often, financial anxiety comes from having bought too big. Even if you haven’t bought too big initially, downsizing can sometimes ease the unexpected burdens that come your way.
For example, if you usually take an expensive vacation, maybe you can find something cheaper that will also be better for you. I often hear friends and family say, “I need a vacation when I get back from vacation,” because it was so hectic. I’ve added meditation retreats and visiting nature areas and other peaceful destinations to my vacation plans. Getting in touch with your inner self is a priceless gift, and doing that on vacation is the best time. Not only are they more peaceful and rejuvenating than a tourist hotspot or a big city, but they’re also a lot cheaper, too.
Big or small, there are many different strategies you can consider to increase your financial wellness and reduce anxiety. Download an app, hire an accountant, or ask your intimate partner what they think you can do to improve your financial health. Start small and be consistent, and you can learn how to become successful in a faster and less stressful way.
When making decisions, I find it helps to remind myself that I can change my mind at any time. Nothing you do right now is set in stone. You can make a decision now but still leave the door open for future alterations.
Are you ready to take that first step? Find that first small thing you can do to improve your financial planning and resolve to change it today.