Everywhere you turn, the situation looks bad: debt, restrictions, and bills.
Money is one of the biggest stressors faced by Americans. In a 2015 report, the American Psychological Association found that money is the top source of stress, with 72% of Americans feeling anxious about finances at least some of the time.
It’s not surprising when those feelings of stress turn into fear about facing your money problems.
I know there have been times in my own life when I experienced fear of money. Maxed out credit cards, concerns over how I’d pay my car loan, and worries about living paycheck to paycheck dominated my life 10 years ago.
I was afraid to look at my bank statement and often put bills in the “later” pile rather than facing them upon arrival. It wasn’t always easy, but eventually, I got beyond my fear of money. You can get over your fear of money, too — here’s how.
Confront your money issues head on
The hardest step in conquering your fear of money is to confront the issues head on. Take a look at the financial red flags in your life and face your money problems. This is the hardest step because you need to look that fear in the face and be brutally honest about the situation.
You might not have to face the problem alone, however. If you have a good support system, consider asking someone you trust to look at your financial situation with you.
It’s also possible to benefit from the help of a financial professional. If you can’t face your money situation, gather everything up and take it to a devoted loved one or unbiased third party who can break the news to you.
In my case, my then-husband faced the financial situation with me. We both had financial problems from before the marriage, but getting those out in the open and looking at the realities of the situation together brought us strength. Sometimes it’s easier to do something scary when you’re not alone.
Take a look at the issue. Acknowledge the challenges. Be real about it. Once you know where you stand, it’s easier to take the next steps toward getting over your fear of money.
Create a plan for your money
Once you know where you stand, create a plan for your money. If you have a lot of debt, put together a debt reduction and payoff plan. If you want to save for a specific goal, make a plan that allows you to incrementally save up for what’s next.
Put together a spending plan that reflects your situation and how you want to get out of it, whether you need to make sure you have enough for bills each month or you want to demolish your student loans as quickly as possible.
When you have a plan, you’re more likely to feel better about the situation. A Transamerica report on retirement found that survey participants were more likely to say they would retire with a comfortable lifestyle when they had a written plan.
This applies to most financial plans. When you have a written roadmap, you’re more likely to feel optimistic about what’s next. Plus, having that plan written out can help you see, step-by-step, exactly what needs to be done next. That can help you move forward without fear.
The act of creating a plan forces you to think about solutions to your problems and create a timeline for accomplishing your goals. Get professional help if you need ideas for overcoming some of your thornier financial issues, and make sure your ideas are realistic.
Once you have that roadmap, you can follow it to get a better handle on your money.
Focus on your progress
Are you bogged down in the negative aspects of your finances?
Take some time to focus on your progress. Constantly living in a negative mindset results in fear and worry. While you do need to confront your issues and be real about where you stand, you also don’t need to dwell endlessly on your mistakes.
Look at how far you’ve come. Did you reduce your debt by $100 last month? That’s a victory!
When I looked at my own spending a few years ago, I realized I was paying automatic subscriptions I didn’t even use and made it a point to cancel those subscriptions. Rather than beat myself up about how much money I wasted on those subscriptions, I celebrated the fact that they would no longer be dragging me down.
Yeah, it was silly not to notice them before. But in the end, I remedied the situation. That financial progress was worth celebrating, and I turned the focus to the fact that I had an extra $75 for my use each month.
Overcome your fear of money
As you make improvements to your net worth, pay down your debt, or find new ways to make money, focus on that progress. Simply putting a plan on paper and taking that first step on the roadmap is progress — and a cause for a little positivity.
You might be surprised at how your outlook on money changes as you move forward. Confront your issues, make a plan, and focus on your progress. Pretty soon, you’ll look forward to checking your account balances online.
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