I don’t enjoy living with non-stop anxiety. It messes with my sleep, makes me irritable, causes me to be abrupt and obnoxious with the people and animals I love. Still, it happens. And money can be one of the most significant stressors in our lives.
A 2014 study from the American Psychological Association found that 64 percent of adults feel stressed about money. In addition, one in three Americans with a credit history—77 million people—have at least one debt payment in collections.
These are frightening statistics, and as far as I’m concerned, help explain why road rage is to prevalent and violent crime is on the rise in almost every major city in this county.
Money concerns trigger us at our core because money is about survival.
“So what?” You say. “Everybody’s stressed about something.”
Yeah, that’s true. But money fear can bludgeon your anatomy like a tornado making landfall. Worry and anxiety cause the release of harmful stress hormones like cortisol, histamine, and norepinephrine. When your system is constantly flooded with these hormones, the body is no longer able to regulate its inflammatory response.
Depending on the severity of your money fear and other stressors, you may contract any number of physiological and psychological disorders such as insomnia, leaky gut syndrome, and depression, as well as serious autoimmune disorders.
There is no benefit to money stress. None. Zip. Nada.
The good news? There are tools for curbing stress producing money habits. First you must identify beliefs and patterns that feed your money anxiety. Once you know what they are, you can make a conscious choice to modify your behavior. Here is a list of five stress producing money habits and how you can gently transform them.
Money Habit #1: Keeping silent about your money concerns. If you have a self-imposed gag order around money, it’s likely you are in avoidance. Are you avoiding a feeling of embarrassment or shame? Do you fear punishment or retribution?
Small But Significant Step: Talk to someone with whom you feel safe. This could be a life partner, trusted friend, money coach, or therapist. Just talk. Let some air in and you’ll breathe more easily.
Money Habit #2: Spending more than you earn every month. Denial doesn’t work. Eventually, this lifestyle will catch up with you and consequences could be significant. Some part of you knows and is screaming for help.
Small But Significant Step: Create a budget. Doesn’t have to be fancy. But it should list all your income and expenses to determine your monthly debt. Draft a list of three possible actions you can take in the next month to reduce your spending. Recruit an accountability partner to help you stay on track.
Money Habit #3: Not charging what you’re worth. This is a big challenge for self-employed entrepreneurial people. I can tell you this: if you aren’t charging at a level that you feel good about, and that your profession demands, you’ll harbor resentment. And resentment turns to rage and rage denied can manifest as passive aggressive communication, irritability, headaches, backaches, muscle spasms, and other unwanted symptoms and behaviors.
Small But Significant Step: Conduct a personal salary survey. Uncover what other professionals of similar experience and training are charging. If you’re under the mark, develop a plan for increasing your rates.
Money Habit #4: Daily focus on market fluctuations. This isn’t necessarily a bad habit. If reviewing market fluctuations is enjoyable and interesting, go for it: know thyself. But if you’re hypervigilant and police your holdings daily, each time wiping sweat from your brow, it’s time to chill out.
Small But Significant Step: Make an agreement with yourself to scale back on viewing your portfolio. If once a month is too much to ask, try for once a week. Allow yourself to breathe. Tyrannical oversight isn’t healthy. Oh, and if you’re uncertain about your own investing prowess, hire a reputable financial advisor and let them take on the vigilance.
Money Habit #5: Postponing important purchases until crisis occurs. You’ve known for months that your computer is acting up. It’s old and dying and a technological artifact. Still, the idea of spending the money sends you into a tizzy. So you ignore it. And ignore it. Until one day, it not only crashes but also takes down important data with it. Now, you’re dealing with a big, stressful necessity for a new computer in a time-sensitive drama.
Small But Significant Step: Generate a list of the equipment, appliances, and high-priority items in your business and home. Write down their anticipated life span. Be honest. If you know your fridge is on its deathbed (milk spoiling within a couple of days of its expiry data is an excellent clue), plan ahead to replace it soon. If you don’t have cash in hand, research a zero percent (0%) credit card, or start a reserve fund so you’ll have the means before the crisis.
Every step you take consciously to reduce is a conscious move toward greater health and abundance. Take care of yourself.
Learn more about your relationship with money and take the complimentary “Money Type Quiz” here: http://insightmoneycoaching.com/money-type-quiz/ Only you see the results. Or contact me at paola@InsightMoneyCoaching.com