How to Stop Worrying About Money: 8-Step Plan
Wondering how to stop worrying about money, when you’re a naturally anxious person? Financial stress can keep you up at night, suck all the joy out of your days and even lead to anxiety-related health problems.
But you don’t have to live with it!
This post is in collaboration with Kate, the creator of LoveMyAnxiousBrain.
Her website features step-by-step guides to supercharge your mental health, overcome anxiety, boost your body image, and quit toxic relationships.
If you find this post helpful and want more tips for managing anxiety you can also find her on Instagram @LoveMyAnxiousBrain
Keep reading to learn how to tackle your finances and your anxiety about money, with self-compassion and a clear plan.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Chances are if you’ve googled “why am I so anxious over money?” you recognize that there’s a link between how you feel and your worries with money.
But let’s revisit some of the symptoms of anxiety so that you can see if there are any other subtle physical or mental signs.
Common symptoms of anxiety:
procrastinating on things that feel overwhelming and or cause anxiety (e.g. setting a budget)
emotional spending aka retail therapy
physical symptoms- stomach aches, headaches, weak immune system due to chronic anxiety
stress-eating or losing your appetite
trouble focusing or concentrating on daily tasks
feeling irritable for no obvious reason
How do you stop worrying about money?
If debt stress and budgeting issues are giving you any of the symptoms above, here’s an eight-step plan for dealing with the situation.
Tackle your money worries one step at a time and you’ll feel your stress levels go down, as you start to take back control.
1. Show yourself compassion
Begin by sitting still and telling yourself that whatever situation you are in is something you can get out of.
Allowing yourself to create a judgement free zone can help boost your confidence and inspire you to make changes. It’s normal to have setbacks, doubts, and even worry occasionally over whether you are making good decisions.
But to establish good habits when it comes to money and handling your finances you have to trust yourself.
It can be frustrating to feel you are behaving differently but not understand why.
Now that you have identified with one or more of the common symptoms we can dive into how exactly you can tackle this issue without feeling overwhelmed.
2. Make a budget
A budget will become your blueprint for responsible spending and planning for the future.
Lay out your finances
This means printing out your bank statements and seeing exactly where your money is going.
I enjoy the process of scrolling through the app offered by my bank and hand writing my expenses.
Whether you handwrite your expenses or grab a highlighter and mark up your printed document by the end you should be able to answer a few questions.
How much do you spend on bills?
What are your bills?
What are you spending money on daily?
Do you spend a lot of money on yourself or your family?
By doing this you are not only learning your spending habits but laying down a foundation to lessen your money worries. If you find yourself beginning to judge the numbers on the paper take a second and pause.
Anxiety is often caused by uncertainty and our need to predict, plan, and over-analyse future events.
By writing out what bills are paid during each pay period it becomes easier to plan ahead without obsessing.
It also helps to reflect on the idea of whether your issues with money are due to an unaffordable lifestyle or if you just need a few minor tweaks.
Pick a budget style
If you are interested in a less strict budget you can simply add up all of your expected bills per pay period, automate an amount to your savings account, and limit your spending going forward.
This budget system works without tracking your daily spending. It also encourages saving and proactive spending.
Any money remaining can be invested, spent or rolled over into a savings account when pay day hits, all without guilt.
For those who prefer more structure you can use the zero based budget method.
This allows you to give a category to all of the money in your bank account.
The goal is to subtract your expenses from your income and have it equal zero. Let me show you an example of what this would look like below.
Notice how included in your expenses is the money you are saving and money to be spent throughout your pay period (Misc.).
Although the total remaining from your check is zero you didn’t actually spend all of your money.
This is what you would call organized finances.
Pay with cash
After adding up your bills and leaving the money in your account you can withdraw the rest and keep it in cash.
Paying for food, necessities, and wants with cash might make you reconsider indulging in retail therapy.
Shopping isn’t a bad activity when done with moderation.
It’s also normal to say you enjoy retail therapy. As we develop healthy habits and more coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety we will be able to determine when it’s harmful.
3. Review your spending
Every now and then check back in with your budget. Try a new style if your current one isn’t working and revisit tip #1:
Show yourself compassion.
This is going to be a journey full of ups and downs, setbacks and a sprinkle of money wins but with time, you will learn how to stop being as worried when it comes to money.
4. Talk to someone
I promise you are not alone when it comes to being in debt or anxious about money.
Talking to your friends, someone whom you trust, or even a therapist can help you to feel less alone as you navigate spending, saving, and building a financial foundation.
5. Create a community
Community can be formed through Instagram, Facebook or even taking a class. When it comes to learning and talking about financial literacy and mental health awareness, I found some great accounts to follow on Instagram.
If you can’t talk about finances comfortably with your family it’s okay. A key strategy to reduce your money worries is to talk about it with people whom you trust.
6. Set financial goals
Smart goals allow you to plan ahead, account for any obstacles, and make yourself feel like you’re working toward something in life.
A smart goal has to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
This savings goal has mentioned a time frame, a specific target, established realism, and we will be able to tell if it has been reached.
The only part we didn’t mention would be obstacles.
This is where you can reflect on any expenses you have coming up, spending triggers, or just your financial habits in general.
In this last step you plan for anything that could hinder you reaching your financial goal.
7. Focus on what you know
Anxiety causes us to overthink, panic, and wonder what we are doing wrong.
I know when I feel anxious my thoughts speed up, my head can be described as feeling full, and my heart speeds up.
One thing that makes me feel better is taking a step back and looking at my circumstances.
Let’s say I feel anxious regarding paying tuition next semester.
I can slow my thoughts by writing down what I do know.
which is how much my income is
what extra sources of income I have coming in (or lack of),
what the deadlines are to pay tuition.
With the facts written down I can figure out if it’s plausible for me to pick up extra shifts or if I have to take out a loan.
When we focus on the facts and stay in the moment it lessens our anxious tendencies.
Making a list or writing down your ideas can also help you to get your thoughts out.
Jotting down what is floating around in your head can help you to prioritize when it comes to making your budget or staying in the present moment.
Especially when your anxiety tells you to worry about the future or the past.
Anxiety and worry when it comes to money is normal and you can get through it with the right financial guidance.
8.Resources for dealing with money anxiety
Here are a few blogs that can help you get your finances in order.
MoneyUnder30 (Credit cards, investing, student loans)
Dave Ramsey (All things finance - paying off debt )
CleverGirlFinance (Building a foundation + free courses)
How to stop worrying about money: next steps
Thank you so much to Kate for sharing her knowledge on anxiety in a way that feels judgement free.
With her help, we were able to create this helpful guide for everyone who’s anxious about money.
I know that’s a lot of us, especially in the current climate.
If you came here wondering how to stop worrying about money, I hope this post has given you the support you needed. Once you have a clear plan for getting your finances and anxiety under control, you can start to relax and feel like yourself again!
Follow Kate's blog at LoveMyAnxiousBrain and scroll to get your free self care workbook at the bottom of this page.
Remember to have compassion for yourself as you work through these steps.
Sharing your goals with like-minded people is one way to build community and keep yourself inspired!
You can lay a foundation for your intentions by sharing your financial goals in the comments below.
Up Next: How to Prevent Burn Out