How does thinking about money make you feel? When we ask people about their relationship to their personal or business finances one of the most common emotions that pops up is anxiety.
Well, turns out they aren’t alone. A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association discovered that 72% of their study population reported feeling anxious about their financial situation at least once during the past month. We get it, dealing with your money can be stressful. You have big dreams and lofty goals and you might feel that your financial situation is holding you back from getting where you want to go. But, it’s worth asking yourself: is it my finances or is it my anxiety around my finances that’s actually holding me back?
If you answered the former, how do you work towards combating your feelings of anxiety around your personal finances? Spoiler alert: avoidance doesn’t work. Just ask Jessica Toro, an event producer from Toronto. “I used to actively avoid my finances completely,” she says. Everytime Jessica tried to come up with a plan to tackle her finances she felt too overwhelmed to figure out a productive way to move forward. So, she’d go back to turning a blind eye to the goings-on of her bank account. “I lived paycheck to paycheck and as long as the bills were paid every month I considered that a success.” If your bills are getting paid, what’s the problem? Well For Jessica, the relief was always short lived. “Thursday was a great day of the week and Friday was fun but then Monday, it was like, oh no, I have to wait two weeks for another paycheck,” says Jessica.
The only way to tackle your anxiety around money is to challenge it head on. Get curious about your relationship with money and examine it carefully. Many of us are carrying around ‘money wounds’ from earlier in our lives and we don’t even know it. You may have internalized money stress from your parents; or inherited their negative feelings about money. Our early experiences with money can also affect what we believe we’re capable of - whether we believe we can build long-term wealth, get a high-paying job, or even achieve debt freedom.
In addition to money wounds, many people also struggle with scarcity mentality. Meaning, they see money and other resources as zero-sum games. More money for others means less money for them. This common perspective feeds into anxiety around money. Thinking this way means you’ll not only find yourself stressing about your own financial situation but you’ll have the added anxiety of worrying about the financial situations of others. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
But, the good news is that once you understand your relationship to and beliefs around money, you’re back in the driver’s seat! This awareness will allow you to overcome your money wounds and combat scarcity mentality effectively. Now, let’s build a more positive relationship with money...
- Firstly, remember that money as cyclical. It is something that comes and goes and should be approached with an open hand rather than a closed first.
- This can help you practice generosity more readily. It becomes easier to open your wallet to help others and to purchase things that truly bring long term value to your life rather than things that deliver a temporary dopamine hit.
- Finally, build a budget! This will help you feel in control and keep those pesky money worries from creeping back into your life.
If you’re dealing with feelings of anxiety around money, know that you are not alone. There is no need to feel ashamed. Money is a taboo topic and very few of us were equipped with the financial knowledge and tools we need to manage our money with confidence. All of this feeds into our worries and fears about money. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a change. If your anxiety has been steering the ship, it’s time to take back the wheel. You’re the captain now.