According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, money is the biggest cause of stress for two-thirds of respondents. Of course, most people will be stressed about money at some point, whether it’s due to increasing consumer debt, a lost job, or caring for an elderly family member. Financial anxiety is more than just a little stress. How can we manage financial anxiety? Our debt counselors have a few tips to get your money worries under control!
Signs of Financial Anxiety
While it’s normal to worry about money sometimes, you shouldn’t be stressed about it constantly. If it gets to the point where it’s affecting your quality of life, that’s when it becomes a problem. How do you know if you’re just temporarily stressed or if you are suffering from financial anxiety? Here are a few signs:
- You’re obsessed with being frugal. Frugality isn’t a bad thing per se, but if you become obsessed with it, you can harm your quality of life. For example, you might not even spend money on necessary home or car repairs in the name of being frugal. Living in a home in dire need of a new roof or driving a car with faulty brakes is not frugal. In fact, it could be dangerous.
- You overspend regularly. An occasional splurge usually isn’t cause for concern, but if you spend way more than you should on a regular basis, you might have financial anxiety issues. Retail therapy when you’re upset is not a healthy coping mechanism. It only leads to more credit card debt, which can lead to more financial anxiety later.
- You can’t handle your own finances. Having your spouse, parent, or adult child handle your finances for you because you are too stressed is another potential sign of financial anxiety. If looking at your bills, bank statements, or other financial documents sends you into a panic, this can be a problem. It can leave you vulnerable to financial abuse if the family member taking care of your finances starts taking advantage of you.
This is by no means a full list, but if you relate to any of the above signs of financial anxiety, you may want to seek help.
What can you do about it?
If you think you are suffering from financial anxiety, what can you do about it? Stress and anxiety often stems from uncertainty, so the first step is to remove some of that uncertainty. Creating a budget can give you the stability in your finances you desperately need. There are even apps for budgeting if you want to keep track of your budget electronically! With a budget, you will know exactly how much money you will be bringing in every month and how much you can spend. Sticking to your budget can alleviate the stress and uncertainty because it tells you what you need to do.
Another way to combat financial anxiety is to stay on top of your debt. Debt is something that can be extremely stressful, but as long as you have a solid plan to pay it off, it should be manageable. If you find that you are often worried about debt, it’s okay to seek outside help. Calling a nonprofit credit counseling agency can be a great decision! A credit counselor can help you come up with a budget and a plan to pay off your debt. They may even enroll you in a debt management program if they feel that is the best option for you.
Mental Health & Finances
Maybe your finances aren’t really the root of the financial anxiety you’re feeling. Your financial life and your mental health can affect each other. If your mental health is suffering, your finances could suffer as a result, and vice-versa. Seeking help for your mental health is never something to be ashamed of! Talking to a mental health professional, such as a therapist, can be very helpful. You might find once you’ve been to therapy, you don’t feel quite as stressed about your finances anymore.
The bottom line is, if you are experiencing financial anxiety, reaching out for help is okay. Talking to a credit counselor to sort out your finances is smart! Talking to a therapist to sort out your mental health is also smart! Taking care of yourself isn’t just a matter of eating right and exercising to stay physically healthy. Staying on top of your financial life and mental health is equally important.
If you are struggling to pay off debt, ACCC may be able to help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session with us today.