Money and personal finance scare a lot of people, even if they might not want to admit it. I’m lucky to work in the financial counseling field because it has opened up my eyes to the world of personal finance. But I still have my moments when I want to bury my head in the sand. Thinking about buying something major, like replacing a vehicle, gives me anxiety. I think it’s because my husband and I are fiscally fine right now and have emergency savings, but we don’t have $10,000+ set aside just for a new car.
So if I can’t buy a car outright, I think about adding on a monthly payment to our existing budget. While we could make it work, what if something else unplanned comes up like a major car repair or one of us gets injured? I think of these things probably because I’m just a natural worrier at heart. However, it can be a good thing sometimes as it’s made me more prepared for emergencies/other unexpected expenses.
Why money induces fear
Most people have had some sort of problem or another related to money; that alone creates negative feelings about money. Here are some examples that might hit home:
- Grew up hearing parents fight about money
- You fight about money with your partner/spouse
- Don’t have enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses
- No savings in place in case of an emergency
- Can’t catch up on bills if that bonus or tax refund doesn’t come this year
- No retirement or not enough in retirement savings for your future
- Have credit card debt that’s holding you back
- Never set up a budget before
- So worried about your future you refuse to spend money and in turn you miss out on life
STEPS TO REDUCE YOUR MONEY FEARS
Acknowledge and face your fears.
Your financial situation is not going to get any better by avoiding thinking about money and what’s happening with your finances. The unknown is scarier because you can’t come up with a plan to deal with it. So avoiding just makes your situation and fear even worse. Not to mention financial stress impacts many aspects of our lives.
Face your fear and start a budget right away. If it helps, call it a spending plan as sometimes just the word ‘budget’ alone can freak people out. There are a lot of ways to start. If you like Excel, use a budget template and fill in the blanks. Or, if you prefer to do it on your smartphone, there are a tons of budget apps out there. If doing this on your own is still too daunting, set up a free appointment with a nonprofit credit counseling agency like us.
LSS financial counselors can help…call 888.577.2227 for your free session or you can get started online any time.
Choose your next priority
Once you determine what your monthly spending plan looks like, figure out what’s next on the agenda. This is where you can use fear to your advantage. What are you most worried about with your finances? The first thing that comes to mind is what you should create a plan of attack for. Depending on what that is, there may be different paths to take. However, increasing financial wellness is likely to help every financial situation; here are some examples:
- Determine where you can make reductions in spending then stick to your spending limits.
- Identify realistic ways to increase income.
- Start setting aside money automatically into savings.
- Check on debt repayment options.
- If you’re struggling as a couple, create a budget, talk about it, and be honest with each other. Read The ultimate guide to marriage and money for more tips.
- For even more ideas, read this post on Easy ways to increase financial wellness.
Also, it’s okay if this finance stuff still freaks you out a little…that’s perfectly normal because it doesn’t come second nature to most people (myself included). If you’re not sure about getting financial counseling, this post about how a financial counselor can help will clear it up for you. Don’t let fear and worry keep you from achieving your financial goals and if you need a little guidance, LSS Financial Counseling will be there for you.
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.