Tips For Quelling Your Money Anxiety When There Isn't A Root Issue

Had the Lord's Prayer been taught by humans, it would probably have been phrased "Give us our weekly, monthly, and yearly bread" — instead of "Give us our daily bread." That's because worrying is human nature, and our natural tendency to plan for scarcity and anxiety about what has yet to happen makes us restless. A normal degree of worry is manageable. But some people experience anxiety disorders — characterized by fearful thoughts that happen so constantly and persistently that it affects their ability to carry out everyday tasks. For instance, if you're constantly stressing and panicking over your finances for no reason, you're probably experiencing money anxiety. 

Money anxiety, unlike stress, can make people feel worried anytime they look at their bank accounts or engage in any finance-related activity, no matter the amount of money they have. Although money anxiety is not a clinical diagnosis, it's hugely common. More than 60% of the roughly 20,000 participants in 2021 research by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority stated they feel anxious about their finances. It's hard to go through life when you can't stop being on edge about your bills or picturing the worst-case scenario about your future financial health, and you don't even know your root issue. If you're suffering from that, here are some self-care tips to help you manage your panic episodes.

Identify your money anxiety triggers

There's a fine line between money stress and money anxiety. Although temporary stress can aid concentration and task completion, consistently losing sleep over banknotes can affect mental and physical health. When it comes to finances, everyone has something to worry about. If it's not catching up on bills or saving for a major purchase, it's about shopping smarter or inflation-proofing our savings. But you must ask yourself at which point should any of those day-to-day issues become catastrophic and get you worked up. The first step in controlling anxiety is to put the finger on its triggers.

It's important to pinpoint which financial tasks make you feel uneasy or give you heart palpitations, whether you're paying rent or checking your account balance. Once you know what triggers your anxiety, you become more aware of your thought patterns and are better equipped to take control of your emotions. It's not like you can psyche yourself out of that negative headspace, but you can at least exert control over how you react to those emotions. Perhaps you feel shooting pains up your spine whenever you see your rent bills. When it happens, reassure yourself that you have a sizable emergency fund saved, you are still on track to reach your monthly financial goals, and that paying rent is not an immediate threat to your financial security. 

Develop financial discipline

When it comes to financial health, sparing the rod will spoil the child. But having an established routine around personal finances and putting a tight rein on your spending will spare you the stress and confusion of not knowing where all your money is going.

For instance, start with setting a budget, which should consider your net income after taxes, monthly expenses, and savings. If you're trying to pay off a debt, get familiar with the 50/30/20 budget, an allocation option recommended by NerdWallet. This plan entails keeping necessary expenditures, such as housing, at no more than 50% of your income. Then, set aside 30% for secondary expenses, such as non-essential shopping and leisure travel, and 20% for savings and debt repayment. Depending on your situation, you can revise your budget as needed. A detailed budgeting system will help you track your spending, accelerating debt repayment and enabling you to reach your financial goals faster.

If you have a tendency to overspend or the memory of a goldfish, you might want to think about setting up an automated savings plan. Going automatic lets you determine the amount of your earnings to be routinely put into a bank account without lifting a finger. For example, you can set up separate savings, debt-paying, and investing accounts to automatically allocate a specific amount of your monthly salary into each of them.

Explore calming techniques

When you think about money and panic episodes strike, try some body-calming techniques. For instance, try meditation. Practicing mindfulness not only aids in boosting clarity but also increases your emotional resilience to cope with financial pressure. "Meditation does many things," Dr. Deepak Chopra tells Forbes. "It quietens the mind and when the mind is quiet, the body goes quiet and that's when self-regulation starts and kicks in. So meditation, biologically, is very healthy. Emotionally, it gives you resilience, and spiritually it accesses creativity."

Most mindfulness exercises encourage practitioners to become more grounded and self-aware, including their physical well-being and state of mind. According to Headspace, when people develop self-awareness, they better understand their financial impulses and can face their fears rather than avoid them. Only when you are ready to confront your fear will you be able to take conscious action to change your approach to your finances and improve your situation. 

Whenever you feel like diffusing some stress, go to a quiet and comfortable place, sit down, close your eyes, and concentrate entirely on your breathing. Consider turning on a meditation app with guided, solution-driven meditations to diminish the sense of external pressure and enhance your results. You can also loosen up and concentrate by using guided imagery, which includes visualizing positive experiences and calming scenes in your head.

Seek help from a financial advisor

Another way to quell your money anxiety is to seek help from someone who knows money in and out — a financial advisor. Many perks come with having financial savvy on your team. The most obvious is that you won't feel like you're going at it alone and feel frightened. When you take a leap of faith with a big decision, you feel like a net is breaking below you to cushion your fall. A cool-headed financial advisor is there to prevent you from acting rashly when you're feeling emotional, keep track of your personal finances, devise a customized financial strategy, help you pay off your debts faster, keep you informed of new legal regulations that you haven't yet caught up with, to name a few. 

If you're the type of person, who doesn't want to deal with money matters or learn about finances but hates to miss out on wealth-building opportunities, a financial advisor will help you get your ducks in a row and make sure you're on the right track to getting your financial breakthroughs. "At the end of the day, how well you do over the course of your investment life is mostly dependent upon that 2 percent of the time in the markets when it looks like the world is ending," says financial theorist and neurologist William Bernstein (via CNBC). "That's where the value of a human being comes in."