Money Worries Got You Stuck? Take the Driver’s Seat!

May 30, 2022

Money is a constant in our lives; there’s no escaping it in the world we live in. While it can bring moments of great joy and unbridled happiness, it can also cause anxiety and stress that can often lead to unhealthy behaviors. 

Are excessive money worries controlling your life and keeping you stuck in a loop without an exit door?  

Do any of these resonate?

  • Shoving bills into the drawer instead of opening them?
  • Avoiding calls from creditors about overdue payments?
  • Never-ending cycles of paying credit card minimums and seeing no end in sight?
  • Irritability, lack of focus, and trouble sleeping?

It’s often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. This is not to say that you’re insane by any means; it’s that the repetitive behavior of burying your head in the sand or praying for a miracle is preventing you from making any meaningful progress.  

Fears over money (e.g, I'll never have enough money to retire, I need to save every last dime or I’ll be destitute), supported by your long-held or family money beliefs, are often at the root of your discomfort. These beliefs often last for generations unless you challenge them.  

Now, fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it can often be a catalyst for change in healthy ways. We see this all the time when a legit medical issue needs attention. But, many fears are often false and baseless, which leads to this next question: do we have to believe every thought we have or what our brain tells us?    

According to Rebecca Gladding, MD, and co-author of You Are Not Your Brain*, the mind, which is intimately connected to the brain, can overpower the brain and deliver some pretty strong and deceptive messages to it. She believes that people are so much more than what their brain is trying to tell them they are and that the brain often gets in the way of our true life goals

In short, don’t believe every thought that enters your brain. You have choices about what to let in or what to ignore. You’re probably asking yourself how to discriminate among those negative thoughts when your brain runs on autopilot most of the time.

  1. Realize you have more control over your income and spending than you think. Own that control - don’t give it away or place blame elsewhere.
  2. Question your money beliefs - are they unfounded or misguided? Are they based on stressful events from your past that you witnessed growing up? Money myths run amok depending on where you get your information. What’s good for the general public may not relate to your situation. 
  3. Write down what’s coming in each month and what’s going out. Make any necessary adjustments to widen that gap so you can pay off debt, increase savings or work toward other goals. 
  4. Know the difference between a need and a want. They are different but that’s for you to decide.   
  5. Start planning by setting realistic timeframes for your 3-6 month, 6-12 month, and 1-3 year financial goals and make them very specific (how much/how often/how long). Open multiple savings accounts for each goal and name them (ie, emergency fund/car down payment/Christmas gifts). Have one for fun stuff too!

You don’t have to go at this by yourself; reach out for support. Your money is personal to YOU, and there’s no one size fits all approach.