There have been many anxiety surveys over the past five years and most of them indicate that between a third and two thirds of us are worrying about money – all of the time. If you recognise yourself in this then you are certainly not alone. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, as it is possible to stop worrying about money, even if you don’t win the lottery.
Don’t stick your head in the sand.
The ‘ostrich’ method of managing your money is pretty much guaranteed to make you really anxious. If you’re the kind of person who throws bills straight in the bin or won’t look at your bank account for months on end because you’re worried about what you might find, be aware that you’re actually increasing your worry by doing this, rather than easing it.
Get some perspective.
Most financial realities are not ideal – but neither are they a disaster. Instead of becoming lost in the failures and fears that you have for your finances, look at the reality and how you can work with that. Having a feeling of control over your money – even if that is just control over debt payments and budgeting – will make you much less likely to spend nights worrying about what could happen next.
Planning is a well-known tool for helping with any kind of anxiety, whether you’re planning for a big meeting, a wedding or just a way to get your money matters in order. Look at where you are, whether you want to be and then plot the steps from one to the other – by doing this you will realise that what you want is achievable, that you can get there and what needs to happen to get from start to finish.
There are many reasons why we overspend. We may be having a bad day, perhaps a relationship is in trouble, maybe we’re suffering with a dose of the seasonal blues. While the reasons may be different, the result is always the same: anxiety. If you’re about to go mad with your credit card to make yourself feel better, remember what it feels like when you’ve purchased something you can’t really afford – all the joy goes out of it and anxiety immediately creeps in.
Simplify your finances.
Complexity leads to anxiety almost every time. If you’re trying to stay on top of your finances then you need to understand them and that’s hard to do if you don’t really know what you’re dealing with. If you’ve got debts, such as loans and credit cards, look into consolidating them into one single account that works with your income and lifestyle. If you’re struggling with tax affairs then get an accountant. And if you just can’t see what is coming in and coming out then spend a couple of hours working this out instead of sitting and worrying about it.
Look at the smaller picture.
Particularly if your finances aren’t in great shape, looking at them as a whole can feel overwhelming and the worry this can cause may be paralysing. Avoid this by looking at the smaller picture instead – what steps do you need to take over the next week, what are your goals for this month, can you budget up to the end of the month? Start small to grow your confidence and the worry will begin to reduce.
Create a financial buffer for yourself.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen in the future so, to a degree, you have to accept that there will be good and bad, no matter how many precautions you take. However, the anxiety over financial disasters can be helped significantly by creating a pot of savings that you can dip into if you need to. Whether your home needs a new boiler, you lose your job or you need to pay for private medical treatment, concerns about property, work and health are much easier to manage when there’s a financial buffer in place.
From all of the above it is obvious that action is the most effective tool in the fight against money worries. Taking control of your finances, your income and your spending, is the fastest way to reduce the anxiety and to give you a clearer perspective on how to achieve your financial goals.
Worrying actually appears to have very little purpose, other than to make us feel stuck and unhappy. You can’t prevent things from happening by worrying about them and you certainly won’t make your daily life any easier by doing it. Ditch the worrying and focus on doing instead.