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“Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” — Maya Angelou, novelist.

Do you obsess over every penny you spend?  Do you often lie awake at night worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills? Do you and your partner constantly argue about money? Any of these behaviors could be a sign you’re suffering from money anxiety.

It may feel overwhelming, but the good news is that setting financial goals and creating a plan for your finances can help you stop stressing over your money. Here’s how to tell if you have money anxiety and how to ease it.

First, let’s check these 4 common signs of money anxiety.

Do you identify yourself with any of them?

1- You stress excessively about spending money. Sometimes you might be overspending, but even if that’s not the case, the idea of shedding money is always a source of stress for you.

2- You constantly worry about slipping into debt, even when it is manageable.

3- You believe that discussing your funds and finances openly with someone will make you look financially weak.

4- The fear of not earning and saving enough to reach your goals is a constant source of stress.

Remember, feeling anxious about money is a perfectly rational response in certain situations. For example, if you’ve recently lost your job or your employer has announced a coming round of layoffs, it’s natural to be concerned about your financial future and how you’ll make ends meet. However, if you have a healthy relationship with money, these worries won’t be paralyzing and will pass when the problem does.

But when your money anxiety gets out of hand, it can cause behaviors that prevent you from making the most of your money and may even cause you financial harm.

So, let’s now check some negative behaviors often linked to money anxiety.

– Overspending

If you regularly use shopping as a way to relieve stress, you might go on a spending spree to alleviate your anxiety about money. Unfortunately, this is a vicious circle because spending too much will only worsen your money stress.

– Dysfunctional family finances

The ways your family deals with money can also reflect or cause money anxiety. For example, couples sometimes run up credit card debt without telling the spouse —hiding their purchasing habits from each other— or even maintaining bank accounts they don’t want to talk about.

– Hoarding 

While some people overspend, others hoard money. They may feel like they never have enough and may become workaholics in their need to have more and more money.

– Excessive frugality

If you find it challenging to spend money even on necessities, such as critical home repairs or dental visits, you might be suffering from money anxiety. Being penny-wise can help you avoid unnecessary spending and build up savings, but it’s possible to take frugality too far.

Ignoring your anxiety about money won’t make it go away—but taking a proactive approach to the problem can. Here are some strategies that can help you stop stressing about money.

  1. Pay attention to its signs and acknowledge its presence

Be it a medical, psychological, or financial problem, the first step of fixing anything is always understanding the problem (here, money anxiety) and identifying the causes. While this introspection can be stressful in itself, you need to tell yourself that it is the only thing that will get you out of anxiety.

2- Acknowledge it in writing

Writing down the problem and the worries around it can help make the following step clearer. For example, if someone wrote, “I have a credit card, but I’m not sure how I’m going to pay it off,” their next step could be to call the bank to ask about options and stop increasing the problem.

3- Make a plan

There are many ways of going about planning. The most basic one includes creating a budget. This would consist of calculating and adding up all your sources of income and then subtracting all your monthly dues, including debt, taxes, EMI(s), etc.  Once you have done this, you will get a fair idea of your financial standing.

Allow yourself to invest in healthy and safe luxuries as and when the budget allows. Stringent saving plans might mentally frustrate you.

4- Manage your debt efficiently

The idea is not to get rid of debt the next day, but it is to know that you are making some progress on it by the day.  List your debts and prioritize them. Next, set in motion a plan that helps you pay off your debt slowly.

If you are not in debt currently but fear that you soon will be, planning is the key again. Plan for emergencies by setting up an emergency fund.  This way, you know that you have secured yourself financially for any emergency that poses a risk of debt.

5- Give your mental space a rest

Sometimes, you might be doing everything right and yet feel stressed. That’s because we humans often let our minds give in to worry even when things are fine. It is also likely that you might be feeling lost because you feel you don’t entirely understand where you are headed financially. It is always a good idea to unburden yourself by talking to someone about your financial worries. Confide in your family, relatives, friends, or even seek out professional support for help dealing with economic anxiety.

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Home management: the process of effectively running a household. 

Compulsive buying: a chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes a primary response to adverse events and feelings.

Pocket money: money for day-to-day spending, incidental expenses, etc.  

PHRASAL VERBS

To bail out: to help someone or an organization who is having financial problems.

To splash out: to buy something expensive.

To bet against: to take a financial risk.

IDIOMS 📒

Money doesn’t grow on trees: it requires effort to earn money, and it is limited, so you must be careful how you spend it.

A penny saved is a penny earned: it is essential to save money.

To live from hand to mouth: to have just enough money or food to stay alive.

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