A lot of people talk about curing financial anxiety through logical methods.
Make a plan, buff up your savings account, increase your income. All of these things should take some of the heat off the emotional response of financial anxiety.
But do they really?
As someone who loves to seek logical solutions to my emotional fears, I’ve tried all of these strategies. Although these steps can impact my financial stability, they don’t solve my problem of overall anxiety.
Then one day, in a near meltdown over my money anxiety, my husband gave me advice that changed everything.
What is financial anxiety?
While I’m happy that I have an emergency fund, I still worry about the following:
What if I lose my job…and can’t find another one before my emergency fund runs out?
And, most of all, I think:
What if some large financial outcome happens that no emergency fund can save. What then?
Most people worry about money to a point. That’s because money controls many aspects of our lives: our ability to eat, to have homes, to eventually retire, etc.
In fact, a study done last year by the American Psychological Association uncovered some interesting details about money stress:
- Almost 3/4 of the respondents reported stress about money.
- Almost 1/4 of the respondents felt “extreme stress” in relation to money.
- Almost 1/4 said that, in the past month, their stress was up to “8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale.”
As you can see, if you’re worried about money, you’re not alone. But what about when that worry turns to serious anxiety? If left unchecked, money anxiety can lead to financially detrimental behaviors.
Dr. Brad Klontz, Psy.D., a certified financial planner and financial psychologist, describes some of these behaviors for Psychology Today. Some of them include excessive risk aversion, overspending, financial dependence, and more.
If you feel you may suffer from one of these disorders, jump to the bottom of the page. But, if you think you have financial anxiety that’s painful but not yet at that level, read on below.
How to not stress about money
Back to my husband’s game-changing advice.
When I was deep in a spiral of worry about money with no signs of letting up, I asked him why he doesn’t worry. I was hoping he could give me some magical cure-all advice on how to not stress about money.
Instead he says,“I try not to worry about what could happen. I’m confident about my resilience.”
What? That was a way of thinking I never considered before. Intrigued, I asked him to explain.
“You can worry about all the things that might go wrong,” he says. “Or you can understand that there’s always something you can do.”
In his words, it all comes down to understanding that there are options. Even if they’re not always ideal ones.
“If I really had to, I know I could make changes in my life to cope,” he explains. “Trusting in my resilience allows me to think clearly about a situation and find solutions rather than worry.”
At first, I was skeptical about this advice. Yet, I was still thinking about it a few days later. And that’s when I understood why it works.
Conquering my financial anxiety spirals
How could I tell it worked for me? Because the next time my financial anxiety spiral began, I was able to answer it in in the following ways:
“What if you lose your job and can’t find another one?”
I’ll work at a restaurant or a coffee shop or whatever I can get if I have to. Sure, I love my career and want to keep it going – but that’s not the only option that exists in the world.
“What if you have a medical emergency and your emergency fund doesn’t cover it?”
I’ll negotiate my medical bills. I’ll find ways to pay them off faster after I recover.
In the end, life is more meaningful than money. And if I can’t earn enough to pay them off, I can revisit the point above – only this time as a side gig alongside my day job.
“What if you and your husband both lose your jobs and can’t get new ones and run out of money for rent?” (You can see now how nasty my spiral gets.)
We’ll sublease our apartment – or we’ll break the lease and eat the cost from our security deposit if we have to. We can find a cheaper apartment to live in outside of the city, too.
Or, we’ll move in with our parents if we have to. That’s an option we’re lucky enough to have – even if we’d prefer not to use it. And we’ll do it all before draining our emergency funds, but as soon as it becomes clear it’s necessary.
Focus on your resilience
For some of us (myself included), we spend so much time worrying about how we’re going to hold the cards of our carefully crafted lives together that we forget that this isn’t the be all and end all of life. But focusing on your resilience can help.
Sometimes we have to go backward to move forwards. I’ve done this a few times by moving across country and changing careers. And sometimes we just need to focus on what we can do instead of worrying about what we’ll lose.
If your money stress is serious, seek help
I want to take a minute to say that I’m approaching this topic from the point of view of privilege.
I’m not worried about losing the roof over my head because of a tenuous financial situation. I’m worried about it because I’m a worrier.
Anxiety is always with me and it’s pointing to my greatest fear – not being able to provide for myself and my family.
If, however, your financial anxiety is caused by a very real concern about feeding and housing your family, seek help. Check out your local food bank or seek out other local services and resources to help.
And if all else fails, google the website of your city. For example, when I searched “New York City” in google, I found their website, which links to many local resources. Try this for your hometown to see what help might be available to you.
Finally, if you’re able to make ends meet, but financial anxiety is threatening to take you down, you might want to seek help from both a financial planner and a psychologist.
A financial planner can help you evaluate your money situation and suggest changes if necessary. A psychologist can help you get to the root of your anxiety – especially if financial anxiety is a symptom of something else.
No matter what the case, understand that you’re not alone. Seek help if you need it and start taking steps to work through this. Nothing is more powerful than taking that first step.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.49% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.48% effective April 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.49% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.41%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.11%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|