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Financial Anxiety is an internal trigger from thoughts relating to money. It is a feeling of distress and can be described as worry. An example is when someone has thoughts of not having enough money to retire or worrying about being laid off due to COVID.

Constant worrying, trouble sleeping, money fights can all be symptoms of Financial Anxiety.

Financial Anxiety Myths

Many people believe Financial Anxiety is caused by lack of money and/or debt. Truth be told, people of high net worth can fall prey to this condition as well.

If you grew up in a household where your parents often complained about their bosses being greedy so there was no money to pay the bills, you might feel anxious if, as an adult, you earn a high income. You may worry that you will become greedy. The cause of your Financial Anxiety comes from your thoughts and interpretation of your childhood experience.

Not all people who endure Financial Anxiety behave in the same manner. Some may hoard money, some may ignore money management, some may fight with their partner and others may overspend compulsively. The one common denominator is the root cause of their thoughts.

Warning – Danger Ahead

Financial Anxiety isn’t always debilitating and can act as a warning to be cautious when making money decisions. It can however, reach a level of concern and cause serious health issues. These issues, such as obsessive worrying, depression, and/or substance abuse can be damaging and may require professional help to cope with and address the behaviors.

How to Cope

The number one step I recommend for overcoming Financial Anxiety is to seek clarity. Question your thoughts about and around money. Ask if your thoughts are true; what proof do you have? If you believe your thoughts are true, what do you think is the worst case results you will achieve? Reverse engineer the worst case scenario and ask yourself what you would do at each step.

Example: If you think and worry that you will lose your job due to COVID…

  • Seek clarity – Has your employer already laid off employees? Has your employer warned that there may be layoffs?
  • What proof do you have that you, specifically, will be laid off? Be specific and don’t rely on “gut instinct” as proof.
  • Worst Case Scenario: You lose your job and have no source of income…
  • Ask – What would I do first if I was laid off?  Answer – Apply for unemployment benefits, seek other job opportunities.
  • Ask – What will I do if those options don’t allow me enough money to pay my bills? Answer – I can look at cutting costs. I can ask for relief from mortgage/rent. I can bring in a roommate to help with costs.

The goal is to acknowledge what your worst case scenario is and ask questions and brainstorm solutions for each step. This becomes solution focused rather than worry focused.

The emotional connection to money is often overlooked. Another example of a solution focus is to connect with a daily money manager, many of whom have expertise in diverse aspects of money management — and client financial anxiety.

By Clare Dubé, a Daily Money Manager and Certified Financial Social Work Counselor, the owner of Financial Therapy.

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