Money forms a huge part of our lives. We need money to sustain ourselves, to eat, to have warm shelter, and to afford entertainment. Ignoring money is not a helpful strategy. But neither is obsessing over it or worse, being afraid of money. The core of money unhappiness lies deep in our brain, which dictates the attitude you have based on the relationship you formed with your money.
Money attitudes may cause significant financial stress, which can have detrimental outcomes. Let’s explore two of the main money fears and see what can you do to overcome them when you suspect that’s what may bother you.
The planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much most of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy. – Douglas Adams
Fear of having more money
Whereas the majority of people are concerned that they don’t have enough money, some of us get shivers thinking of having more money. Most of the time it comes from the belief that money is evil and having more of them is a great responsibility that is too heavy to manage. You may also think that money is too complicated to manage and the more you have, the more difficult your life becomes.
Or maybe, when you are scared of money what is going through your mind is What will other people say? though. Fears of people questioning the sources from which you got your wealth or worse, fear that you will get robbed or even killed, that wealth attracts troubles will make you reside into the mindset that it is better to make ends meet and not to ask for more from life.
But this is irrational and harmful fear, which prevents you from enjoying your life and live to the fullest. Money presence is a stressor for you in this situation, which you are being exposed to constantly. You go on to develop chronic stress and eventually depression, let alone neglecting your financial future!
Whatever you may feel, money is under your control. It won’t go spend or earn itself – you will. Work slowly on shifting your attitude through a series of small exposures to your fears. Set small goals (e.g. for a month I will be checking my weekly bank balances every day, just looking at the movements) and gradually increase the length of your steps (From today, I will monitor my monthly spending and start reconciling my bank statement with my spending journal) to achieve a truly amazing leap (I plan my financial years, set financial goals and monitor variances between the budget and actuals regularly). This is called exposure therapy.
Fear of not having enough money
It is healthy to want to progress financially in your life, but not when this money ambition gets you paralyzed or overly consumed by making money that you actually forget to live your life. You may fear for money because you have huge debts to pay, family to provide for or live a lifestyle where job loss means you have enough only for a few next weeks.
What could help you here is to get more transparency with your funds and clear goals – how much is enough and why sis you set this target? What do you want to achieve with having more money? How could you plan for your money management? Do you have your money strategy? When you have a more structured approach to money management you suddenly realize that the matters are not as bad as you imagine. With a dash of self-control and finance monitoring, you soon discover that getting out of debt is possible in shorter than planned time or that you can take a few months break when you consider a job change.
Another helpful strategy here is to make sure you have an emergency fund with the amount that is enough to cover three to six month of your basic expenses and any liabilities that you pay regularly. Estimate how much money you need on average a month (exclude lavish entertainment and unnecessary pleasures) and start putting away contributions towards it every month.
How to Manage Money Better
Relationship with Money
To start, you should get accountable for your money situation and money attitude. No matter what happened in the past that created your toxic attitude towards money, you do now live in the past, but at the present and now the only thing that influences and feeds your money attitude is your mindset.
Just think of it for a moment – do the blame, grief or shame help you overcome your financial challenges? Probably not. Do these feelings make you feel better? Chances are they only worsen the situation. And how about motivation? Is blaming someone else helps you to get this kick and start working on improving your standing? I doubt so. So why do you need to cling to the old ways which do not work?
So, what should you do? First of all, you need to identify your money beliefs and fear basis. It may not necessarily be a pleasant task, to sit with your fears and listen to them, but for one, it is better than suffering they cause, and two – this is necessary to eliminate them. The longer you avoid directly facing your money nightmares, the longer they will haunt you.
Once you know what do you feel and maybe what situation in your life brought this attitude, start working on it by questioning the validity of your beliefs. When we form a system in our brain, we do not question any data points or facts, but we let our emotions guide us. Hence, when you formed thought that expanded into the whole belief system, you paid attention to how you felt instead of analyzing the situation.
Let me bring an example here. Your friend borrows a huge amount of money from you a long time ago and since that event, you lost both – your friend and your savings. That could lead to an attitude of mistrust, feelings of grief and self-blame (I should have known better!). You concentrate all your efforts on how you feel – cheated, disappointed, sad, let down.
When these feelings are totally justified, you should not let blindfold you. For a moment consider that your friend had indeed a difficult financial situation and borrowed money because it was a life-or-death situation for him. Maybe he overestimated his repayment abilities, which made him feel ashamed, helpless and frustrated at the same time. He could not imagine looking you in the eyes and decided instead break the contact to drown in his own misery.
We do not evaluate here who is right or wrong, what is done is done. What we look at here is your mental wellbeing and harmful money beliefs that this situation has caused because you assumed only one point of view. It is much better to let go and move on without letting the situation affect you any longer and past influence your present and future.
Mindless money attitude
Whether you want it or not, money is here in your life, every single day. When you ignore it, hoping that ignorance is a bliss, you let the situation unfold and spiral down, bringing you together with it.
Being mindful with money is a very helpful attitude. Money mindfulness does not mean counting every penny, neither hiding your cash under the mattress. Instead, it means that you know what you spend on, you plan your spending, you logically assess the pleasure you get from spending money on something versus saving them and you keep your bank account tidy.
Money mindfulness can also manifest in helping attitude and urge to give back. When you see someone who is more in need than you and you choose to financially help this person – you show money mindfulness. Letting go of greed and applying judgment which exposes your altruistic nature makes you more human. And you know what? Giving back also makes you feel incredibly happy!
Know your money
Most of the fears come from a lack of understanding. We fear new and uncertain and automatically avoid it. It is part of our human nature. When you fear money, either not having or having too much, you should ask yourself – do I really understand the money topic? It is through education and understanding that you build strong foundations and confidence which lasts a lifetime.
You can start by reading some of the classic Personal Finance books to understand money better. Do not put it off. Start learning about money now! There will never be a better time, better opportunity, more freedom and fewer tasks on the to-do list. Do not find the time. Make time.
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