Money matters are one of the top stressors and anxiety producers in a person’s life. Everyone worries about money at some point in their life. Mostly, the money worries come when bills exceed income or money is tied up in a less-than-secure investment. Sometimes financial anxiety comes from expecting or depending on money that is not forthcoming. Most of the financial problems people have are challenges they have gotten themselves into and can nearly always get themselves out of if willing to experience a little financial pain.
A whole other level of financial worry can be brought on by watching news reports on the TV or Internet, or reading the paper or magazines. This is really something we can’t control, so this is something that needs to be accepted. But if it will help, it is possible to join an activist group. Otherwise, know that basic survival is almost never at stake with the fluctuations of the economy. Also, limit time talking to people who are doom-sayers.
We are all concerned about the financial condition of the country, but actually losing sleep over it and obsessing could be a sign of a of a greater problem such as general anxiety disorder (GAD), which could require counseling and medical supervision.
Financial stresses have a time line. Is the anxiety about debt from the past? Is the current income not matching the expenses? Is it the future, kid’s college tuition or retirement, that’s causing the worry?
Tips to Consider
- Be organized and realistic. Know what money you have in savings, what money you have coming in, what your basic expenses are and then rank the list of “want to haves.” Be honest, how many of your basic expenses are really basic? Are you making payments on a new, very expensive car when an economy car or even a used car would do? Evaluate everything in your “expenses” column.
- Create a financial picture of your life. Look at your finances realistically. How much money are you spending versus making? Are you able to save for your future retirement or your children's education? Or, are you just making ends meet? Consider meeting with a financial adviser to get a comprehensive look at your portfolio.
- Once the financial picture is understood, then make a budget. Always try to include in the budget a little money for entertainment and for savings, however small. With no money for entertainment then a person could feel deprived, which is stressful. And no savings causes anxiety about the future. To know you have some money and it is growing creates a positive focus away from anxiety.
- If being realistic continues to be a problem, some psychological counseling could help. If spending is wildly out of control, there could be a problem with either compulsive or impulsive behavior. Both of these conditions would benefit from intervention.
- Lastly, have a plan B, a plan of action for those “what if” scenarios. Example: “If we lost the house, we could move in temporarily with Aunt Mae” or, “If I lose my job, we could sell the second car.” Having a contingency plan provides an answer to the nervous questions that dance in your head when feeling anxious.
Anxiety stems from feelings of powerlessness, so feeling in control of your finances will go a long way to alleviate anxiety.When a person has a full and realistic grasp of their financial situation and a plan to live within their means while at the same time saving for things they want, they will feel stable and empowered.