Updated: Aug 28
In a word, yes. In this post, we'll go over the symptoms and causes of financial anxiety, talk about how to address it in the moment and how long those feelings can last after any immediate pressure has subsided. We'll also provide some tools for making anxiety less likely in the future.
So whether you're currently feeling stressed out because you don't know your credit card balance or concerned about what to do with that money you're saving for retirement, we'll help find a way to make sure that when worrying about your finances starts creeping up on you again, it will be for a whole new reason!
What causes financial anxiety?
So what makes the numbers on your credit card statement cause a little knot of anxiety in the pit of your stomach? There are two main reasons they set off the ‘oh no!’ response when you see them.
First, we all have a financial “comfort zone” which enables us to know what our basic needs will be for any given time in the future and gives us a sense of security because we “know” there will be enough to cover those needs. But when that level isn't met, even if it's just by a little, it raises feelings of concern.
Second, the specific nature of the numbers on your credit card statement can stir up feelings of fear and worry. When you see all those digits in front of your name, it can feel like too much for you to handle alone. In this case, it's important to know that you're not alone! Even if you don't think so, there are plenty of people who have gone through exactly what you're experiencing and come out just fine on the other side feeling much better about their finances.
That's not to say that finances aren't important. In fact, it's very important to learn how to actively manage your finances so that you don't have to worry so much about them. This lets you spend more time doing the things you love and worry less about getting caught short.
How to deal with financial anxiety?
One of the best ways to deal with financial anxiety is by identifying what's making you worried and then recognizing that it will be alright in the end because no matter what, there are solutions out there for your situation. Don't try to guess if those solutions will work—it just adds another layer of worry! Instead, take small steps toward finding one of those solutions.
1. Identify your financial goals. Many people who experience financial anxiety put off figuring out what their specific financial goals are because they don't want to think about it. But to deal with your anxiety, you have to address it! Take a sheet of paper and write down what you expect, want and need financially in the next few years. Write down any sources of income you will have, how much you spend each month on what, any debt you're carrying and when it's due, plus anything else that links your current situation to the future.
2. Talk with a professional if needed. If you're worried about your ability to meet those goals, then this is the right time for you to talk with a professional about your options. The best person to talk with will be someone who understands your financial situation, can help you understand why you feel anxious and can recommend specific steps that will help lower those feelings. You can find them at any credit counseling organization or financial counselor's office.
3. If anxiety persists, it may mean there's a bigger problem in your life. Your problems may be rooted in deeper issues which need your attention rather than just what appears on your credit card statement at the moment. If you're finding it difficult to shake off your financial anxiety once you have a solid financial plan in place, then it may be time to talk with a professional therapist or life coach who can help you work through what's holding you back and deal with the underlying cause of your emotional feeling.
Also Read: 12 self-help tips for people with OCD
4. Remember that financial anxiety is a feeling, not a fact. Whatever you're worried about with your finances can always be dealt with. Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise—it's not true! It's important to remember that what people say and what happens aren't always the same thing so when financial anxiety strikes, don't put too much weight on any one piece of information or advice. If the feeling persists, try talking with someone else about it or consider a different viewpoint from someone who can help see your situation from another angle.
5. Financial anxiety is often cyclical. Once you have your financial house in some semblance of order again, it's likely that you'll experience some level of feeling anxious about your finances from time to time. Just figure out what triggers it for you and give yourself a reminder. For example, if you tend to worry about your credit card bill when high-pressure situations arise at work, make sure that if that happens, talk to someone else or go somewhere else to cool off before looking at your statement again.
6. Learn about self-help groups and accountability groups. If personal finances are still a source of anxiety for you, you may want to consider joining one of the many support groups that exist to help people with similar problems. These are often available through the internet or through your local community center or credit counseling organization. Typical members meet in person once or twice a week and typically share what they've learned to help others experiencing financial problems.
7. Try a debt management program. If you're carrying significant amounts of debt or have trouble paying it back, then consider looking into a debt management program as one way to navigate your financial issues more easily. These programs typically have a set fee for the period of time you are enrolled in them and take your payments for that period of time. They'll then use those payments to pay back your creditors on the schedule you have agreed upon, which can help prevent any late payment fees and gives you a lot more freedom to figure out what you can do with the rest of your income each month.
8. Figure out something to appreciate about your financial situation. When you're feeling anxious and stressed, it can be difficult to see anything that works in your favor. But you should make a habit of trying to find at least one thing each day that you can appreciate about your financial situation. For example, if you're having trouble with late payments on a bill, there's at least one thing in the world that didn't happen—you didn't have an unexpected charge added on top of the original amount owed! Each time you feel anxious, take a few minutes to think about what's good in your situation and put it down on paper or type it into a word document.
Financial anxiety can be a difficult situation but with the right steps and outlook, it doesn't have to be something that holds you back from living the life you want. Talk with a professional if you're interested in more information or have other questions about dealing with your financial anxiety. If you'd like to get support for yourself or for a loved one, please contact one of our recovery specialists today! Our counselors would be happy to listen to your concerns and help you explore options that work best for you.