How to Deal With Money Anxiety by Building Financial Wellness
By Kelly Burch
If you feel stressed or anxious about money and finances, you’re not alone. Nearly half of young people worry about paying their bills, and almost one-third don’t feel financially secure. Not having money or not knowing what to do with the money you do have can cause stress, shame, guilt, and worry about the future. It may make you want to avoid the topic altogether or even feel hopeless at times.
That’s a really uncomfortable and scary place to be, and building financial wellness is a solution. Financial wellness is the ability to meet your needs—including emotional needs—and manage your money. Creating financial wellness includes building both your financial literacy (understanding of money terms) and financial security (having enough money to cope with challenges).
Financial wellness can also mean unlearning harmful patterns, such as feeling like you need to spend your money before it disappears or, on the other hand, feeling like you must save every penny. Processing feelings, such as guilt about keeping a portion of your pay for yourself even when your family needs help, is another step to financial wellness. You may need to decide how you feel about cultural norms in your family that emphasize the whole family over individuals, knowing there’s no right or wrong answer. Financial wellness may even mean unfollowing influencers who make you feel bad about not having more in the bank.
When you better understand your patterns around money and where they come from, you can address the ways your money and mental health interact with each other.
Working on your financial wellness is empowering, but it can also be hard. Maybe you come from a home that never had enough money, or maybe your parents had plenty of money but never talked about it. Whatever your financial background, reflecting on it can help you build a healthy relationship with money going forward.
Here are five questions that can help you think about your financial wellness:
- How does money impact my emotions and mental health?
- What lessons or values did my family teach me about money? These may be things that were talked about or issues that were never mentioned.
- What would I like to change about my relationship with money? What would make me feel more in control of my finances?
- Which financial skills do I have? They can be basic, such as knowing how to operate a bank account or use a debit card.
- What topics or skills confuse me? Maybe it’s paying taxes, opening a savings account, or investing. Don’t be ashamed. There’s no way to know what you haven’t been taught.
Talking about money with your friends or a counselor can help you process your thoughts. Then you can make small changes to build your financial security and wellness.
When you feel overwhelmed, remember that almost everyone has some financial stress. It takes practice to build financial wellness, feel in control of your money, and know how to react when tough times strike. You don’t have to figure it out right now, but by thinking about financial wellness, you can build a more solid future.
Get started by learning key financial terms, or learn where to go when you’re dealing with major financial stressors or crises such as job loss, food insecurity, or homelessness.