7 Strategies for Overcoming Money Anxiety

money anxiety

For as long as I can remember, I have had a lot of anxiety around money. It was something I just accepted about myself, a story I’d decided to ink on the foundation of who I was.

Then, last summer during a business planning session, I found myself breaking down when the subject of finances came up. I couldn’t talk about actual dollars and cents without crying.

It was humiliating and eye opening.

That was the moment I decided that my relationship with money had to change. Specifically, I needed to stop having a relationship with money and start seeing it as a resource.

Six months later, I’m finally at a point where I can think and talk about money without having a panic attack. I’ve noticed recently that my feelings on the subject have changed pretty dramatically, and I wanted to share with you some of the things that have helped me in overcoming money anxiety.

1. Make a list of your money memories

A friend recommended the book Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! by Denise Duffield-Thomas. One of the exercises in the book was to write out all the memories you have surrounding money.

That time you lost your lunch money? The time you had to use food stamps and were embarrassed? The time your dad told you that rich people are assholes? Write it all down.

I filled seven pages in my journal.

Doing this helped me identify what specific beliefs I had around money and where some of those beliefs came from, which made it easier to begin making changes.

2. Practice “tapping on” your money anxiety

This is one of those things I only do behind closed doors or when I’m home alone. It’s a little out there and may or may not be effective, but I had reached the “try anything and everything” point.

EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, is a strategy for alleviating anxiety that involves tapping on a series of specific points on your body.

I used EFT with the money memories that caused me the most anxiety. I did notice that, in time, my stress reaction decreased significantly.

This video provides a great tutorial for doing EFT on your own.

3. Listen to guided meditations about money

I’m a big believer in the benefits of meditation, and guided meditations are really helpful for me (my mind wandering muscle is much stronger than my mindfulness one!)

At the beginning of the year, I started trying out a few guided meditations about money. I usually listen to them at night before bed, and it’s been a pleasant change to practice feeling relaxed when thinking about money.

I’ve also been given some new ideas about money to replace the old fears I’m letting go of. It does no good to clear out the old if you’re not purposeful about what comes in to take up the space.

I like the meditations from The Brain Garage on YouTube.

4. Pay attention to your money

I got this tip from Kate Northrup, who reminded me that “what we put our attention on grows”.

I realized that my anxiety about money had often caused me to avoid dealing with it. For example, I would make a budget once a month and then not open my bank account again until the next month. I put off opening bills – and have unnecessarily paid late fees as a result.

The more often we face the things that scare us, the less scary they become.

Now, I make a point to check all of my accounts every Monday. Doing this helped me notice a $5 maintenance fee I was paying on a savings account, which I was able to get rid of by setting up a monthly transfer of $25 from my checking account.

5. Keep a money gratitude journal

In the interest of paying more attention to my money, I started to keep a money gratitude journal.

That’s my fancy name for the Excel spreadsheet where I keep track of every penny I receive, including:

  • the 4th quarter gains in our IRA
  • the gift card I got for my birthday
  • the royalties from my book that are automatically deposited into my account

Gratitude is an excellent way to overcome any kind of anxiety.

6. Create a plan for your money

One thing I’ve been doing right for a long time is making a monthly budget. This practice is probably the only thing that kept my fear from drowning our family financially.

Having a plan for how and where you’ll spend your money is about being intentional and purposeful. It also helps you do more of that “drag it into the light” stuff.

7. Learn how money works

There is a lot I don’t know about money. I’ve never been taught about investing or appropriate saving (hoarding is a more accurate description of what I do).

I can’t expect to effectively use a tool without some education.

I’m spending a little time reading personal finance blogs and doing more research on things like insurance. I’m going to be a real grown up soon.

It’s a Process

Like any kind of growth, overcoming money anxiety is more like a journey than a goal to achieve. It’s about relearning, shifting paradigms, understanding deep-rooted stories, and building new habits.

Have you discovered any effective strategies for overcoming money anxiety? Please feel free to share your favorite tips and resources in the comments.

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  1. Megan says:

    I narrowly avoided this kind of anxiety; my mother struggled for a bit when I was younger, but somehow she managed to educate herself and became an expert saver. She passed this on to my brother and me.

    But I do think that the early scarcity actually had the opposite effect on me than yours had on you. I’ve always watched my money like a hawk.
    Megan’s most recent post: Crossed

    • Britt Reints says:

      I’m pretty sure my husband would tell you I watch our money very carefully. I have this weird mix of frugal tight fistedness and ignoring the tough stuff. :-)

  2. Jason says:

    These are great tips, I grew up with very little money and we always struggled and it has made me into the penny pincher I am today.
    Jason’s most recent post: Essendon Football Club – Charity Bike Build – Team Building melbourne

    • Britt Reints says:

      Yep – I find people who grow up with little money either become penny pinchers or big spenders.

  3. jb says:

    Have you read your Money or Your Life? Your are already doing that – started in Florida with your trip – but it still might be worth a quick read, if only to get some affirmation of your choices & decisions. and these are some good ideas — I have taken the role of money-worrier in my marriage (minimal big worries) and wonder about letting some of it go.

  4. Many people are born into families where money is always an issue and there never seems to be enough to go around. Then they learn that money is to be feared and that people with lots of money are not nice or are greedy.

    Money is just money, energy and how we use it, how we store it, how we value it shows up in other areas of our lives as well.

    Thank you, with this post you have not only identified very specific money issues but how to deal with them in a positive way.
    Stephen Anderson’s most recent post: Warren Buffett – Berkshire Hathaway

  5. Jean-Paul says:

    Great post! The last 5 years I started 2 times over from scratch and achieved 1 time a 5 figure monthly income with blogging. In my journey of “awakening” I also had a huge resistance against money, the global monetary sytem etc. What I realized is when we are “against” money we are a bit lost at knowing what exactly our life purpose is. Meaning what kind of activity gives us the highest level of joy, satisfaction, bliss and love for what we do. Money is just a idea and when are idea becomes stronger then the idea of money the money will always follow…

    Thanks Britt!
    Jean-Paul’s most recent post: How to overcome the ILR’s in your life?

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