Spending money makes me anxious. I think this topic is very important, especially during this unsettling time. Many people lost their jobs, and others keep working, not really knowing what tomorrow has for them. We are all in the same, yet so different situation. All of us have suffered in one way or another during this pandemic, however many people are more sensitive to the current changes than others. If you want to know what the symptoms of financial anxiety for me are and how I am dealing with it, please follow me.
When I was in college, I had to do two important things: study and work. Every day after my classes, including Saturday, I headed to work so I was able to pay for my education. My job provided enough money to pay for the college, but not for my other needs such as food. It was a tough time full of anxiety and hunger. You got it right, I didn't have enough money for food, and this is when my stomach issues got much worse.
Having struggled so much I made a promise to myself that I would always make sure I have enough money and I had been able to keep the promise until recently. Global pandemic, quarantine, layoffs and changing economy have triggered an old fear in me: what if I don't have enough, what if, what if...
But even prior to this crisis I was struggling making purchases. Spending money reminds me of that time when I couldn't properly take care of myself. So, for me financial anxiety looks like this:
Nervousness while making purchases;
Difficulty to choose an item (out of fear to make a "wrong" choice);
Nervousness while checking my bank account;
Feeling guilty after buying something.
These are the main ones I can pinpoint. I think financial anxiety can be temporary (depending on a current situation) or chronic (you are anxious about money no matter what your financial status is).
Since for different people reasons for financial anxiety are different, individual methods should be considered to tackle it, including therapy. Don't be ashamed to talk about it with someone (better with a therapist) as it can be a result of some deeper conflict that lies beyond just money and your current situation. That's why I found it important to share my background story with you.
What helps me
There are definitely a few things that help me to deal with my financial anxiety. Again, they don't necessarily address deep issues, but work more as a "symptom reliever", which can be helpful until I am able to heal from my past experiences.
1. Setting a money spending goal
I am not really a planning person, but our brain likes to plan. Planning gives us a somewhat sense of control, which is crucial when you are dealing with anxiety. In the beginning of this year I wrote down how much money I want to spend in a month, therefore my yearly goal: how much money I want to have saved by the end of this year.
This little change calms me down as I have already planned my spendings and know that I am "safe" if I stick to the plan. So now it’s all about self-discipline.
It is obvious from #1, but I just want to emphasize: it is important to save money. We can't control what happens to us tomorrow, but we can always at least try to take care about our future selves by not spending our last money on something we don’t really need. Knowing I have enough money saved to provide for me for a few months in case of emergency may not take anxiety away completely, but it definitely helps me feel more secure.
3. Embracing minimalism (creating values that are more important than money)
In our today's world money is probably more powerful than ever. And it's us who give it so much power over our lives. Of course, money is needed for providing for our basic needs, but it's become prevalent in the Western society to consume much beyond our needs.
I personally found this time helpful to reevaluate my values. Even though minimalism isn't a shield that will protect you from your anxiety, and it is also not only about saving money, however it can help bring more awareness and meaning into one's life, easing financial burden.
Also, it can help us learn that we don't need to buy a lot in order to survive and be happy. Appreciation of non-material things is always a great idea.
4. Focusing on what I have rather than what I don't
This one is a little bit deeper and can potentially help with the healing process. Coming from a place of abundance is the right thing to do when it comes down to finances (in a smart way, of course). Reminding myself I have everything I need: roof over my head, food to eat, valuable relationship, helps me not only appreciate it more but also forget about something I can't afford right now.
5. Remembering all those times when I was able to take care of myself
It can be hard to be rational when we suffer from anxiety disorder, but it doesn't mean we should not try. When times get tough I like to remember every day I was able to keep the promise given to myself, and that all these years I have been just fine. It reminds me I am capable of taking care of myself, and that no matter what happens, I will be there for me. Many times this tactic really worked and calmed me down. It doesn't hurt to try.
Here you are, my tips for easing financial anxiety. If you have any tips for me, please comment below, there is always a room for improvement. I hope you found this post helpful. Until next time on Pillows&Trees.