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You don’t have to stop worrying about money

On a scale of 1-5, how often do you worry about money? 

(1 = never, 5 = always)

If you’re confident with your money moves, you might fall between 3-4. But most people we know? Their answer is: “lol – can I say 10?! I worry about money all the time!”

And we get it! In fact, money is the top cause of stress in the US. That was already true pre-COVID. Now that most people are facing additional financial stress? It’s no wonder we’re all feeling a bit panicked when it comes to finances. 

The good news is: you don’t have to be on edge ALL the time. 

Today, we’ll show you:

  • Why feeling nervous about money isn’t a bad thing. 
  • How you can harness this energy, and 
  • 5 strategies to help cool down any fires sparked by money anxiety

So you can enjoy your matcha frappuccino, stress-free!

👀: 5min read

Money anxiety, financial stress

📸: Pinterest

The Psychology of Money Anxiety

Worry, anxious, concerned – these traits have a bad rep.

And it feels especially uncomfortable when these yucky feelings are tied to money, because financial security is such an essential human need.

But here’s the catch:

Worry is a natural response to uncertainty. 

Evolutionarily, we’re wired for it. It’s how we survived the hunter-gatherer days. It’s why we have systems in our body that can cause us to fight, run, or “play dead” if we ever come across a lion looking for lunch. 

Truth is, we need a little worry because it too has a purpose. 

It’s how we ensure we have a roof over our heads, enough money to pay our bills, a future nest egg (hi retirement) – the list goes on. 

When this worry becomes chronic, we can get into trouble. 

Financial anxiety is a real issue, and our mental health can plummet if we let it get out of hand. Sometimes, we need to plan and reflect. But definitely not all the time. 

So, how can we avoid having our emotional well-being hijacked by financial stress? 

We’ll cover that next.

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"I have moments where the thought of the need for money overwhelms my entire system --- I’m a more time than money kind of gal. But then I’ll sit down, budget out where I’m at, calculate out what I need to find balance between having enough for the necessities with just a little fluff for freedom and boom: I’m back in the driver’s seat of this part of life and I feel LIGHT." - Penny Member

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How to stop the cycle of money anxiety 

Anxiety lives in the past and future. Instead of problem-solving, you might get upset about what was (past), worry about what will be (future), or both. 

This can be paralyzing. It prevents you from taking action. 

To counter that, we cover 2 strategies you can apply to ease your money anxiety today. 

(PS. We compiled a short list of smart money moves for you to tackle in the next section.)

1st: BREATHE. 

Literally. Take 3 - 5 deep belly breaths. 

Sounds silly, but breathing helps regulate the systems in your body that caused it to go haywire in the first place – thoughts included! It's an easy way to get your busy mind to relax into a more cool, collected, and confident state. 

Best of all, it’s completely free. ;)

Now, onto the next step on how to stop money stress:

2nd: Remove the word STOP – input the word AWARENESS. 

You don’t need to stop worrying about money. Like we said earlier, a little bit of worry is okay. It shows you care about your financial future. That’s a good thing. 

What you DO need is to practice awareness of how, why, and when you experience anxiety when it comes to money.

Is it when you…

  • have to cover an unexpected bill? 
  • think you won’t make enough this month? 
  • accidentally overspend? (those one-click buys are so tempting!)

Notice it. Instead of aiming to erase these feelings, welcome them. Try to understand where they’re coming from. 

Then, ask yourself: 

  • When do I worry about money the most? – e.g. when I have to pay rent.
  • Why do I worry about it so much? – e.g. because it’s a huge chunk off my paycheck, and it makes me anxious to see so much of it go away at the start of the month.
  • What action can I take to make it better? – e.g. I can set aside smaller amounts, maybe every 1-2 weeks, so I can still feel like I have money to spend for other things.

It’s helpful to keep a journal, if you can. This way you can take notes, and catch any patterns of when you feel more or less triggered due to financial stress. 

When you increase your awareness of when you’re in the worry cycle, what’s causing it, and what you can do to make it through, you’re able to break it.

Now, you might be wondering: 

What are steps I could take today to lessen my money worries?

This last section’s got you covered.

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"Money started bothering me less when I started equating it to the lifestyle that I wanted. How much do I need, what are my goals, how much extra do I like to have: okay let’s make sure we make just that. No more [if it means more work], no less. It’s a boundary." - Penny Member

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5 action steps to lessen financial anxiety and stress

Now that you’ve mastered the art of breathing and practicing awareness, it’s time to short-circuit the worry loop that money stress puts you in with these steps.

  • EDUCATE yourself. Knowledge is power. It’s how you learn to trust your decision-making power. We’ve got that covered for you with easy-to-follow courses.
  • Know your numbers. Create a loose mini budget. And if this stresses you out, read this.
  • Create a plan of action. Think big, then get small. We broke down how to create a realistic, achievable plan here (knix New Years, apply year-round)
  • Focus on eliminating debt. Ugh, the D-word. Everyone hides it, but everyone has dealt with it at some point. Here’s how you can clear debt, for good
  • Build your emergency savings. Think of it as a F-you fund for any curveball life throws your way. Let go? F-you, I got money. Blown tire? F-you, I got cash. You get the gist. ;)
  • Build your nest egg. AKA your retirement fund. It’ll take years to hit that million-dollar goal, but it’s doable. Even for you. Start small, start now. Your future self will thank you.

Worried you might fall off track? 

Sign up for Penny. Penny’s your finance BFF who’s always there for your money FAQs. Learn at your own pace with easy online courses, use the smart calculators to plan your money moves, and rest easy knowing we’ve got your back. 

FYI, we'd never judge you for saving up to buy those new shoes. We both know you earned it. ;)

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