Stress and anxiety about money is inevitable. When people have too little, they are anxious to make more. Even when they are earning enough, it can be difficult to save or effectively invest.
But despite the ubiquity of financial concerns, there is a tendency — even among family members and romantic partners — to avoid the subject entirely. Sometimes people view openly discussing money as gauche or taboo. Nonetheless, avoiding these conversations only exacerbates financial anxiety.
There are three simple steps you can take to alleviate money stress. Taking action or having conversations about finances may be awkward, but it is better for your mental health than avoiding the subject.
1. Face Your Fears About Money
Confronting your anxiety about money, rather than avoiding it, is the first behavior to adopt. But where to begin? “Money,” broadly defined, covers many subjects, so determine what exactly is causing you the most mental strain at a given time. Is it your student loans? Lack of retirement savings? Inability to save enough for a downpayment on your first home? Once you’ve been able to identify what exactly is causing you angst, you’re in a much better position to find a solution.
Even if your concerns about money are wide-ranging, try to note all of them. Writing down each financial anxiety and assigning it an intensity level from 1 to 10 is a good strategy to reduce fearfulness, according to psychotherapist Olivia Mellon. You will be better positioned to examine each worry in a calculating, logical manner that can reduce anxiety or even feelings of panic.
2. Reach Out to Your Network
Next, you should seek out someone you trust and begin a discussion about your concerns regarding money. Even if the person you’ve selected doesn’t know a lot about money either, friendships and other support networks play a critical role in our happiness and ability to handle stress. If your chosen confidant doesn’t have any great insight into how to better handle specific stressors surrounding money, he or she most likely knows someone who does.
The person you confide in might have the same concerns as you. This coincidence can be comforting and reaffirm the little voice in your head that has been saying you can’t be the only one grappling with a particular issue.
3. Develop a Plan
After determining what particular money issue is causing stress and identifying a support system, the final step is to develop a plan to proactively address your concerns. At this stage of the process, you might have realized that your fears about money were not as dire as you previously thought and that you are capable of resolving them with the help of your network.
If, however, you feel like you still need help, it is worth seeking out a licensed therapist and having an honest discussion about money anxieties. Work with someone you trust and feel comfortable opening up to.
We need money to live, and we need peace of mind to live well. By managing both your anxiety and finances, you can be comfortable and have good mental health.
Bio: Zach Scott is a Financial Consultant at Clearfront Advisory. He specializes in working with new and mid-career professionals seeking answers on how to best position themselves for future financial success.