It’s one thing to worry about money enough to motivate you to stick to your budget. It’s a whole other thing to deal with financial anxiety that keeps you up at night. Paying attention to your finances is different from debilitating financial anxiety.
Financial anxiety is not just about the actual money problems. Financial anxiety can mean feeling so stressed you hesitate to log into your bank app. You may start avoiding everything to do with your financial situation. Ultimately, it starts to affect your everyday life and physical health. You may lose sleep, have trouble focusing, or end up with a disruption in your normal eating patterns.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada says 48% of Canadians have lost sleep over financial worries. But the statistics don’t matter if you are losing sleep.
What Are Some Symptoms of Financial Anxiety?
Not sure if your financial worries have reached a level to concern about? Here are some red flags to look out for.
Constantly Stressing About Your Budget
A budget is a guideline designed to help you make sound financial decisions. If you find yourself reading and rereading your budget, you may be feeding the debt stress instead of helping yourself feel better.
Fear of Spending
Careful consideration of each purchase is a good thing. If you find yourself fearful of spending, that is more likely a financial anxiety symptom. If you put the salad back on the shelf because you are afraid to spend the money, it may be time to take another look.
Anxiety When Thinking About Money
Close your eyes. Think about your bank account, your bills, and your financial situation. Does your heart start to race? Are your palms sweaty? Do you think your worry about money is affecting your physical health?
Lack of Effective Money Management
Excessive worry about money problems can be a self-perpetuating cycle. Many times, people go overboard trying to reduce monthly expenses. Then, they end up on a spending spree, adding more credit card debt – which adds to the stress next month.
Lack of Confidence in the Future
Financial anxiety makes it hard to look ahead. Often, a sense of permanence sets in. You might feel like you will always be feeling stressed, and your financial situation will never improve.
Obsession is when you can’t focus on anything except your financial situation. You try to engage in your usual activities, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t distract yourself.
Lack of Sleep and Depression
Trouble getting to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night, and waking up early can all indicate excessive financial worries. Depression goes beyond sadness. If you feel you may be depressed, talk to your doctor.
It may seem easier to pretend everything is okay. Still, money problems don’t go away unless you do something about them. As prices escalate and wages stagnate, if you have debt stress, these tips could help.
Strategies to Help Overcome Financial Anxiety
You can make a difference by having a strategy in place to help overcome financial anxiety.
Set a Financial Goal
Set a realistic, time-measured financial goal like contributing to an emergency fund or paying off your credit card. Consider positive and fun financial goals, too. Painting your bedroom, camping for the long weekend, or having a big birthday party are good motivational financial goals.
Create and Stick to a Budget
The easiest way to end up with more financial stress is not to keep track of your finances. How much do you have coming in? What monthly bills must you pay? What variable expenses do you have? Once you have answered these questions, you can take control of your spending
Putting your income and expenses on paper will show you exactly where your money is going so you can take control of your spending.
Understand Your Credit Score and Credit Report
Understanding your credit score is more than knowing your number. Talk to your financial advisor about how to improve your creditworthiness and reduce the interest rates you pay. As you notice improvement, your financial anxiety is bound to lessen. Plus, the future looks brighter as things get better in the long run!
Create an Emergency Fund
The goal is to create an emergency fund with at least 6 months of expenses in it. For now, start with $100, then $1,000. Think about what an emergency is for you and what it would cost. Is it to save money to fix your car, get a new fridge, or maybe buy a new computer? Consider the short term and what will be necessary for the long term.
Take one small step. An emergency fund gives you peace of mind and stress relief. You’ll probably find that if you have enough set aside, your mind will be set at ease. After all, peace of mind is the opposite of anxiety!
Look for Help
Start by reaching out to your creditors directly. Call visa and ask if they have any options. See if you can negotiate your interest rates to bring your payments down. Your mortgage company may have a skip-a-payment program so you can save money this month.
Talk to your financial advisor for more advice to achieve your financial goals. Financial anxiety shouldn’t be taken lightly, Talk to your doctor or other mental health professional. Even when anxiety has a solid foundation (like debt stress), you can get help feeling better.
Live a Little
Money is here to stay, so play for the long run. It’s great when you can make short-term changes that make a big difference. Remember, you need to live a little, too. Life isn’t life without living. If you try to stick to a budget that is too restrictive, you are likely to end up overspending for stress relief. Find some low-cost leisure activities that bridge the gap between budgeting and overspending. Or, consider selling items you don’t need for a little extra play money.
Debt stress can affect every aspect of your well-being. Setting financial goals can help reduce financial anxiety, making you less likely to worry about money in the long run. Unattended to, financial worries can cascade into negative financial, emotional, and physical situations.
Take a small step toward financial stress relief. Talk to one of our Credit Counsellors. They can restructure your debts and create a budget to reduce your financial anxiety today.