You check your bank account and feel a rush of anxiety come over you. Standing in the grocery store, you figure you better put something back on the shelf, because what if you blow your grocery budget and overdraw your account?Money anxiety. It’s real and I can tell you that I have been there.
Not all cases of money anxiety are from not have any money at all. Even people who make six figures a year can feel anxious over money decisions. It’s not all that abnormal and if you talk to most people, they have experienced that rush of emotions over finances.
So, how do you fix money anxiety? What can you do to live comfortably and without financial worry? Keep reading!
If you feel anxious over money, join the club! Money anxiety is something that most people feel at one time or another. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are broke, though most of the time, that is the case.
How can you combat money anxiety?
Come up with a budget.
If you struggle with not having enough money for basic needs, and/or live paycheck to paycheck, then you definitely need a budget. In fact, even if you don’t struggle, you still need a budget!
I can remember sitting at our kitchen table with my husband, devising a plan for our finances. We were newlyweds and money wasn’t tight, but it wasn’t free-flowing, either. We were in debt and needed a more stable plan for our future. We were definitely suffering from money anxiety.
As we looked at our bank statements, we realized that our habit of eating out was really adding up. We were spending $200 a month on just restaurant dining. Yikes.
When you devise a budget for your household, you will quickly realize that things you truly NEED and things you WANT are totally different. Food, shelter and clothing are needs, but purchasing coffee on the go every morning is not (though it may feel like it’s a need!).
Your budget will give you a feeling of relief because you will have control over where your money is going and knowledge of where you can save.
Related Post: How to Budget When You’re Broke and Overwhelmed
Take a look at your income.
If you are struggling financially, then you need to take a long, hard look at your income. If your job doesn’t pay enough to cover your bills and then some, you should consider looking for either a better paying job, or another job to cover the deficit.
It’s good to do your budget first, because then you know whether or not you actually need more money, or just need to cut back on spending.
As a stay-at-home mom, it can be stressful knowing that my husband is the only one bringing home a paycheck. If you stay at home with your kids, and have money anxiety month after month, then consider looking into a job that you can do from home. Having a little bit of side income can relieve that anxious feeling that you’re losing sleep over.
Related Post: Money Arguments in Marriage and How to Stop Them
Pay off debt.
Debt is a nasty little word. And it can bring on so.much.stress. If you’re feeling anxious about money, this will be one thing you want to work on, and at a quick pace.
Some people are totally fine with being in debt, and that is their deal. For my husband and I, debt meant more payments, less money for us to keep each month and a huge risk that we didn’t want hanging over our heads.
It wasn’t that we were struggling financially, but we knew we could focus and pay off our debts and that it was best for our future. The journey of being debt-free has allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom and for us to build our dream home. No, we don’t drive the fanciest of cars, but we also don’t see money flying out of our bank accounts each month to make horrendous payments.
If you are in debt, even if it’s a small amount, paying it off will be the best decision you ever make. It will literally change your life, not to mention ease the money anxiety you feel.
Live below your means.
The biggest problem that I see in our society is that everyone wants to “keep up with the Jones’”. Everyone wants the newest cars, the best technology and the nicest house. If Joe Blow gets a Yeti cooler, then by golly, his neighbor goes out and gets one too. It’s a problem.
Americans are working like crazy, just to be able to blow a bunch of money on a bunch of stuff that they don’t want (or don’t want to pay off) after 6 months. And most of the stuff is not a need.
Money anxiety will be in full force if you are living beyond your means. That is a hamster wheel you do not want to get on. If you’re on it, then you need to run fast to get off of it.
Taking a look at your budget, compared to your income will give you a good indication of whether or not you’re living beyond your means. A lot of times people don’t really feel like they are living beyond their means, because they think it is the norm to live paycheck to paycheck, with no retirement plan, no savings and debt up to their eyeballs.
Do yourself a favor and kick the feeling that you need to keep up with other people. Live your best life and stay within your own lane when it comes to finances.
Build an emergency fund.
I get extreme money anxiety if our emergency fund falls below a certain amount. The suggestion is that your emergency fund is 3-6 months of your expenses. This helps in the event that your income goes down (job loss, injury, etc.) or that you have an actual emergency (dog gets sick, air conditioning unit dies, etc.)
Take a look at your budget and figure out what 3-6 months of expenses would be. After you pay off your debt, make it your next goal to have a fully funded emergency fund.
Knowing that you have a cushion will help you sleep better at night, I promise.
What if you aren’t struggling and you still have money anxiety?
Sometimes money anxiety follows people around even when they have enough money to cover their needs and then some. This may stem from being poor while growing up or even the result of something traumatic like a home foreclosure.
It’s important that if you are worried about money, although you have enough to cover what you need, you find the root of your problem.
Is it hard to spend money because you’re afraid you will eventually run out (even though you have a steady income)? People who don’t spend money often get the nickname of “cheapskate”, but it can go much deeper than that. It could be that spending money brings on an anxious feeling.
If that is the case, make it your goal to set aside a certain amount of money for “fun” spending. As you get more comfortable with spending, increase the amount. Make sure it stays balanced with what your income is and what you have saved, but don’t be afraid to enjoy your money.
After all, you’ve worked hard for it.
Final thoughts on money anxiety.
I get it. I have been in the same exact boat as everyone else who is in debt, working each month just to make payments, and anxious about the financial future.
Let me tell you, I am never going back to that place. Money anxiety is real and it will steal the joy right out from under your nose.
Follow these few, simple steps to get your finances in order and keep your eye on the prize. Taking control of your finances means that you will be at peace.