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It’s time to stop worrying about money and the future
Have you found yourself worried about money more than usual lately? If so, join the crowd.
According to a 2021 WalletHub report, money is now the biggest stressor for Americans, even over the Coronavirus pandemic. Over 750 people surveyed revealed that 30% of the country believes they would not financially withstand a repeat of 2020.
If you weren’t prepared with an emergency fund, multiple sources of income streams, and a zero debt balance, you’re likely feeling the stress of an uncertain and unpredictable financial future right about now.
I totally get it, because I’m right there with you.
However, I know that stress, worry and fear are absolutely useless when you’re trying to overcome an adverse situation. In fact, worrying about money excessively can lead to a lower quality of life with health problems such as ulcers, insomnia, hypertension and heart attacks. Not to mention taking a toll on your mental health by increasing the risk of anxiety and depression.
Financial stress usually stems from fear of the unknown – what will happen if … ? The various scenarios that play like a broken record in your mind can leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, and out of control. This is a scary place to be.
But, if you can make a few adjustments to both your mind and your manner, you’ll discover that you don’t need to spend your energy worrying about money – even as you navigate through a world health crisis.
If you’d like to learn how to stop worrying about money, keep reading to discover 14 ways you can take action and gain control of both your finances *and* your feelings.
How to stop worrying about money
You may feel overwhelmed and anxious about your finances, but there is a way to stop worrying about your money situation.
Here are a few practical and mindful steps you can take to break this bad habit, increase your financial confidence, and create greater life satisfaction.
#1 Identify the cause
Before you can address the stress, you need to know what’s causing it. Take some time to reflect on any current circumstances that create an anxious feeling for you.
Maybe you feel stress when you’re looking at your credit card debt, or balancing your checkbook, or trying to pay your bills on time.
Once you identify the tasks and the thoughts that elevate your heart rate, write them down. It’s difficult to think clearly when we feel overwhelmed, and this list will help keep your feelings in perspective.
Then, determine what you can do to minimize the strain you experience.
Some things may need to be eliminated (like credit cards), while other pieces may need to be added (a strict budget).
In addition, keep a short list of ideas that help you move through stressful situations without succumbing to the stress itself. Something as simple as keeping a gratitude journal or listening to classical music while paying bills can keep you calm and positive.
Be mindful that worrying about money is a *choice*. You can choose to see your circumstances differently.
#2 Take a close look at your spending habits and financial situation
Okay, now let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Nobody ever felt empowered by remaining ignorant. Stop procrastinating and avoiding your biggest money issues. You’re not fooling anyone but yourself.
Gather up all your bills and bank statements and write down the whole shebang – how much you owe, due dates, interest rates, etc.
Then gather up your paystubs and receipts to figure out what’s coming in and what’s going out. Add up all of your available income streams and track where your money is going.
Finally, figure out your liquidity ratio. This will tell you how long your savings will last if you need to start pulling from your emergency fund.
You may think this will all lead to a heart attack, but actually it’s the start of you taking charge once and for all.
When you drag all of your bad financial habits out of the closet and into the light, you’re one step closer to feeling in control.
Just do it. I promise it won’t kill you.
#3 Set some actionable money goals
Okay, so you’ve looked your money mess square in the eye. Now, you can either take a nap on the couch and pray it swallows you up, or you can take action.
Even if you feel overwhelmed, you can still create better spending habits by making some short-term and long-term goals. Maybe they’re itty bitty goals, but those count too:
- Save $20 a month
- Cancel one credit card
- Eat out once a week instead of three times
- Pick up two extra shifts a month
- Create a meal plan to keep your grocery budget in check
Start small. Take a few practical steps, putting one foot in front of the other. Then, as you start to gain some wins, make some goals that are a little bigger. (For some inspiration, read my post on 15 Financial Goals To Start With.)
Make sure every goal is specific, and set a deadline for each of them.
It’s important to remember that your finances don’t define you, and they don’t control you. You are fully capable of fulfilling those dreams you once had. You just may have to remind yourself on a regular basis what they were.
#4 Set savings aside for emergencies and retirement
You may be waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night because you’re afraid this coronavirus crisis will wipe you out financially.
Having a little cash cushion can help keep the money worries at bay. Make it a goal to build an emergency fund for unexpected costs, and set aside some money for retirement.
Even if it’s just $20 a week – promise yourself you’ll put this extra money away and not touch it unless you have an unexpected emergency. (And be honest with yourself about how you define emergency.) You can set up an automatic payment into your savings account every week so you don’t even have to think about it. The key is to be consistent and make savings a priority.
Find some leaks in your budget where you can cut back on spending. Then, set up separate bank accounts for both emergencies and retirement.
Try to get to $1000 in your emergency fund within a short time frame, so you can be prepared for unexpected expenses. This extra money will help you stick to your normal budget and give you a sense of security. Then, see if your employer offers a 401(k) fund that you can start contributing to.
If you want to get there faster, there are other ways to build it up. Sell all the stuff you don’t use anymore. Pick up a side job on the weekends. Stop drinking lattes every morning and martinis on the weekends.
You are in charge. Your money does not control you. Take the bull by the horns and git’r dun.
#5 Make a written budget and track your numbers
Unless you’re already financially independent (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this post), you have no excuse not to have a budget.
And no, keeping receipts in a tattered envelope with your scribbling on the outside doesn’t count.
Plugging up leaks in your finances will prevent overspending and create more efficient cash flow. But to find out where they are, you’ll need to get specific.
Create a written budget that reflects every dollar that comes in and goes out of your life. Give every cent a job that helps you get to your goals faster. Track your numbers (monthly income and expenses) so you always know how your money is working.
Sticking to a budget is a critical step toward learning how to stop worrying about money. Once you are fully aware of where your money is going, you’ll be more in control and can make better decisions with it.
There are several budget styles to choose from, but don’t overthink it. Whether you go with a bare-bones budget or one less restrictive, just pick one you think you can stick with. If you’re not sure where to start, read my post on creating a zero-sum budget.
Just be sure to check in with your budget often. Review your spending and update your transactions at least every other day so things don’t slip out of control.
#6 Be organized
I don’t know about you, but if I just walk into a messy room I can get that awful feeling of anxiety. Chaos has a way of inducing stress no matter what the circumstances are.
When you’re worried about money because you’re late paying your credit card bill or checks are bouncing on a monthly basis, one reason may be a lack of organization with your finances.
Get a folder and put everything that needs to be paid or logged or filed into it. You can keep your written budget in there, all your receipts, statements, tax documents, etc. When you get a bill in the mail, put it in this folder as soon as you open it up. You can even keep a spreadsheet with debt balances, minimum payments, due dates, etc.
Stop adding to the worry and stay organized. You’ll save time and money, as well as reducing unnecessary stress in your life.
#7 Get rid of debt
I know this is much easier to say than to do. But if you want to learn how to stop worrying about money, take control of your finances and crush your goals, this should be at the top of the list.
Having a budget, some savings and a few goals will set you up to create an effective plan to attack your debt. Applying the debt snowball strategy by Dave Ramsey will give you some quick wins and build your money confidence.
Once you gain some momentum and get a few accounts paid off, you’ll feel a greater sense of freedom and determination to be debt free. Instead of being weighed down and stressed out about the mound of debt you’re under, you’ll have a newfound confidence that financial freedom is attainable.
#8 Increase your income
These days it doesn’t take much effort to find creative ways to make more money. This is the age of the side hustle, and the options are plentiful. A simple Google search for “side hustle jobs” will return over 40 million results!
Once you have more money to fund your budget, you’ll have more confidence and peace of mind knowing you can easily meet all of your financial obligations and still have some left over to enjoy life on your terms.
#9 Adopt an abundance mindset
Sometimes – no, actually most of the time – we can forget that, as human beings, we are the ones in control of our thoughts. Too often we let our thoughts be controlled by our circumstances, instead of *choosing* how we’ll respond to the situation we’re in.
When we worry about money, we operate out of fear and become slaves to the scarcity mindset: believing that nothing is going to get better, our options are limited, and we have to just accept the hand we’ve been dealt.
But when we operate out of faith, we become masters of the abundance, or growth, mindset. This mentality helps us see all of the opportunities that are just waiting for us to take advantage of them. We switch from being the victim to the victor, fully believing we have everything it takes to be successful, prosperous and fulfilled.
Once you change your thinking patterns about your relationship with money, you’ll stop stressing about what’s not working and start finding things that do. Healthy beliefs about money can help you focus less on what you can’t control, and put more of your energy into what you can. You’ll begin to identify the positives in your situation, which will help you think of possible solutions more easily.
Read more about how to switch to an abundance mindset to learn how your thoughts can help you reach your financial goals and stop worrying about money.
#10 Educate yourself
Some say ignorance is bliss – that is, until you’re stuck in a debt hole you don’t know how to get out of. Then it’s just dangerous.
Fear is often born out of lack of knowledge. Not understanding how investing works, or not knowing when you’ll be able to retire, can cause a lot of undue worry simply because you haven’t yet acquired the knowledge necessary.
There’s really no excuse not to know. There are countless books, thousands of websites and a plethora of podcasts that will teach you anything you want to know about personal finance – for free! (Check out my post on 21 FREE Personal Finance Courses!)
Take the time to improve your financial literacy on these matters. Knowledge is power, and it will free you of the “what, when, why, how” worries that wake you up in the middle of the night. You don’t need to stay confused or intimidated. Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean nobody does.
Ask questions, read books, and learn from others that have already figured it out. Learn how to be the master of your finances, and how to stop worrying about money.
I guarantee you’ll have a more peaceful sleep.
#11 Stay healthy
Our brains are affected by our physical health. This means our thoughts and feelings, and subsequently, our decisions and actions, are influenced by how we take care of our bodies.
Exercise has many benefits, one of them being an increase in endorphins. Endorphins are our brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters and are natural stress fighters. Exercise can also improve sleep, alleviate depression, and increase self-confidence.
What we put into our bodies also helps with battling stress. A healthy diet reduces inflammation and weight gain, both of which put stress on the body. It also improves blood flow so the nutrients our brains need get them more efficiently.
Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night. This alone will make your thinking clearer and strengthen your decision-making skills.
Overall, leading a healthy lifestyle will help you decrease money stress levels in any area of your life. So, take the time to create healthy meals for yourself, fit in physical exercise, and get those eight hours of sleep in every night.
Not only will your body thank you, but your brain will too!
#12 Stay grateful
When it seems like the sky is falling and you feel hopeless, take a long, deep breath. Do this a few times.
Then, get out a piece of paper and write down 10 things you’re grateful for.
Pausing to remember the blessings in your life has a way of changing your perspective. When we stay mindful of how much we have to truly be grateful for, our thinking becomes more balanced. Yes, there are still problems that need to be worked out, but they are not the entirety of your life nor do they define you.
Maybe the best thing you can do to stop worrying about money is to keep a gratitude journal. Write at least 3 things in it every day to maintain an attitude of gratitude.
When you find your mind drifting to a worried or anxious state, pull out your notebook and remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for.
You’ll find that your perspective will improve, which puts you in a place to make better money decisions.
#13 Meet with a financial counselor or mental health professional
If you find that you need extra support with managing stress around money or financial guidance with your money, consider talking to a mental health specialist or financial advisor.
A mental health clinician can give you tools to manage stress and anxiety, and a finance professional can offer financial counseling to help you create strategies to get your money under control.
Mental health professionals and financial professionals can both guide you to a healthier perspective with your financial issues.
#14 Stop feeling defeated and forgive yourself
Okay. So, you made some money mistakes from time to time, and now you’re in a bit of a financial hole.
The best thing you can do is forgive yourself, let it go, and focus on what you can do to make some positive changes toward greater financial stability.
Leave the past in the past. Stop judging yourself, learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
How to keep a calm financial mindset
Once you learn how to get the stress under control, you’ll want to be intentional about maintaining your newfound peace of mind.
Use the tactics below to ensure you don’t fall back into unhealthy and unhelpful thoughts about your money.
Find people to hold you accountable
If you’re married, this could mean your spouse. (Or not, if they don’t particularly appreciate financial discipline.)
Maybe it could be a friend, a relative, or even a support group online. Just make sure that they are supportive, encouraging, challenging, and available. You don’t want to choose someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
And if you’re the type of person that can keep yourself accountable through a system, try that.
The point is to find someone or something that will motivate you to stay on track. Sometimes just knowing you’ll need to report your progress or confess a total fail will help you stick to your monthly budget.
Use a cash-based budget
As much as you can, pay with cash. This proven financial strategy will help you live within your means and keep additional debt to a minimum.
A cash-based budget is often used with envelopes. Each envelope is dedicated to one category in your budget. Just fill the envelopes with the amount of cash you’ve allotted for each one. When the cash is gone, there’s no more spending in that category.
Avoid lifestyle creep
Lifestyle creep (also known as lifestyle inflation) happens when your expenses increase with your income. It’s often motivated by prioritizing a lifestyle upgrade over future savings.
If you can maintain your current living expenses while bringing in a larger income, you’ll increase your savings margin. This will allow you to get out of debt and reach your financial goals faster.
Know your triggers
Being aware of what triggers you to spend money will help you be prepared when they happen or avoid them altogether.
Whether it’s getting an email for the latest sale or needing some shopping therapy when you’re stressed out, figure out those circumstances that tempt you to spend money.
Then, take the steps to avoid them. You could unsubscribe from email lists, or decide ahead of time how you’ll handle heightened emotions in a less expensive way. Other ideas might be to keep credit cards at home, take a different driving route (so you don’t pass Target … ) or only bring enough cash to buy what’s on your list.
Have the right insurance for your life
Insurance policies basically transfer potential risk from you to the insurance companies. If you have the right policies for your circumstances, then you can rest assured that an unfortunate turn of events won’t turn into a financial disaster.
Talk to an insurance agent to discuss how to create family, asset, health, and income protection with the right coverage.
Give more away
I know this sounds like a crazy tactic, especially if you’re going through a difficult time with your finances. But holding your money loosely can actually help to reduce worry and anxiety.
Pick a cause or two that you want to support, and set up a recurring contribution. You might want to give to your church, or start donating to the local food bank.
When you give some away, you build the confidence that you have enough – for yourself, and to share with others.
Focus on what’s in your control
You do not have control over everything. The key to making wise decisions and reduce financial worry is to focus on what you can change.
A few things you cannot control include future circumstances, other people’s actions, the economy, current interest rates, the cost of gas and groceries, etc.
Basically, everything except your thoughts, your feelings, your words, and your actions. This means the income you make, the debt you create, your living expenses, and discretionary spending. All of these things can be changed by your decisions and behavior.
Spend more time in reflection
Thoughts can get out of control, like a runaway train. After a while, they become automatic – when you wake up, when you’re driving, when you’re at work, when you go to bed. They can take over your life and create an unhealthy frame of mind.
Changing your thoughts takes time and intention. One way to do that is to be purposeful with your thinking. Have a plan for those times when your mind wanders into negative territory. Decide ahead of time how you will divert your thoughts to a more positive place.
Reflect on the good things in your life, and how you’ve overcome adversity in the past. Think about the people in your life that love you and care about you. Focus on your future self, the financial success you will achieve, and how life is always changing and won’t always be like this.
Join a community
These days, you have many options to find others going through your same situation. Social media now allows us to connect with people who are experiencing similar life issues, who can share their own wisdom and advice. You can connect with lots of people who struggle with credit card or student loan debt, bankruptcy, or loss of income.
Search for a Facebook group or Instagram account that you can join or follow. You don’t have to walk this path alone. There are people out there who’ve gone through the same thing, and can offer guidance that can help get you through.
Negative effects of worrying about money
The past couple of years have been a real doozy for most people. For me personally, my husband was furloughed and I couldn’t work because the schools were shut down. Thankfully, our savings, unemployment income, and government stimulus checks carried us through. But I still felt a lot of stress about our finances.
Anxiety about money can have far-reaching consequences. Consistent financial worries can lead to physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that affect all areas of your life.
I wanted to point out a few of these effects so you have an idea of the damage that financial worries can cause.
Financial stress can lead to anxiety-related health problems, such as insomnia or other poor sleeping habits, an unhealthy diet, headaches, and muscle tension. If you are a chronic worrier, these physical symptoms can develop into serious issues like heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, and obesity.
It’s normal and healthy to feel some anxiety when it comes to money. Often, these feelings can lead to better choices and greater financial security. But, if you find yourself worrying most of the time, this can take a serious toll on your mental health. Persistent financial stress can lead to depression, anxiety disorder, and hopelessness. You may find yourself turning to unhealthy habits just to cope.
Being constantly worried about money can negatively affect your marriage, and even your relationship with your kids. The stress can result in more arguments and less patience. It’s difficult to be supportive and willing to work through problems when you’re stressed about your finances all the time. You also set yourself up for financial infidelity, which is when one partner hides their spending.
Those late night worry sessions not only affect your sleep, but also your decision-making abilities. Whether you experience short-term or long-term financial stress, you will ultimately use up your mental reserves and have nothing left to make sound decisions. In essence, your brain can get covered by a fog that prevents you from focusing clearly. This can lead to even greater financial troubles.
Yes, even your confidence and morale can go right down the tubes if you worry too much about money. You may start comparing yourself to others and feel you don’t “measure up”. You might not trust yourself to make good financial decisions anymore. This can lead to an apathetic attitude toward goals and a disconnect between your finances and personal values, which can result in failing to prioritize savings for the future.
Worrying about money all the time can really suck the fun out of life. Even to the point where you don’t know how to enjoy yourself anymore. Your thoughts are so focused on your financial situation that your energy is drained and you have no motivation to connect with others. You might even feel trapped, believing there’s no way you’ll ever have the life you really want.
Jesus tells us in the Bible to not worry – about *anything*. And, yes, He is concerned about our physical and mental health issues, and He knows where all this stress will lead. But, He’s mostly concerned about us trusting Him at His word. He wants us to rely on His provision and guidance, and turn to Him when we need something. When we are anxious or worried, this affects our relationship with Him. We lose out on deepening our faith and walking more closely with Him.
Why do I have anxiety about money?
Typically, you can feel financial anxiety when you do not have a sense of security with your personal finances. Feelings of worry, fear, and hopelessness can become overwhelming, and you can lose sight of the big financial picture.
Is financial anxiety normal?
Occasionally feeling anxious or stressed about your financial situation is completely normal, and can even lead to the motivation required to make better money decisions. However, chronic worrying about money is not healthy, and can lead to serious physical, mental, and emotional consequences.
What does financial anxiety look like?
If you can’t stop worrying about money, you may avoid dealing with your financial issues. This can lead to a strained marriage, unhealthy coping strategies, or being irresponsible with paying your bills and paying off debt.
Why does spending money stress me out?
There are a number of reasons why you might get stressed out when spending money. One common reason is that you’re afraid of running out of money. This scarcity mindset typically develops when someone has experienced poverty or a previous financial crisis.
Can money cause depression?
Money itself is a neutral tool that can either help or hinder your quality of life. It’s the results from managing money that can lead to depression or anxiety disorder. If you handle your finances poorly by creating lots of debt and living paycheck to paycheck, your mental health could be adversely affected.
Learn how to stop worrying about money and take charge
We all deal with stress in our daily lives. But, that doesn’t mean we need to succumb to it. You can make better choices and learn how not to worry about money.
You have the power to change your thoughts and your actions and take control of your finances. Whatever situation you find yourself in at this moment, find encouragement in knowing that it’s temporary. You don’t need to accept that this is the way your life will always be. You have a bright future ahead of you!
When you take the steps to improve your money management and your mindset around money, you will find that you are fully capable of changing the direction of your future.
You have everything you need already, you just have to set it in motion!
Other posts you may enjoy:
- Create Your Own Stress Management Plan: 6 Steps To Find Balance
- 3 Ways Financial Stress Affects Your Qualify Of Life And Mental Health
- Money Values: How To Align Your Priorities With Your Spending
- 9 Powerful Benefits of Setting Financial Goals
- 5 Principles To Change Your Life After 50
- The Mexican Fisherman: 5 Powerful Lessons To Live By
- How To Create An Abundant Mindset
- 5 Ways Limiting Beliefs Harm Us
- 5 Money Lessons I Wish My Parents Had Taught Me
- 4 Disguised Fears Holding You Back From Achieving Your Goals