If you have been worrying about money recently, you have a lot of company. Money anxiety has become more common.
In the American Psychological Association’s 2022 Stress in America Survey, 87 percent of people who responded listed inflation as a source of significant stress. The rise in prices for everything from fuel to food has people from all backgrounds worried. The researchers say, in fact, that no other issue has caused this much stress since the survey began in 2007.
When money and financial concerns cause stress in your life, you could eventually experience feelings of anxiety. This anxiety can have a negative impact on your quality of life.
You can’t always fix the state of your bank account as you might like and eliminate the stress directly. But you can take steps to manage money-related anxiety.
Money anxiety can be understood by learning more about key signs, causes and tips to handle it.
Money anxiety is when you worry about your finances or fear them. It is an emotional response to your financial situation.
“Money anxiety doesn’t mean you have no money at all. You could make an income that you consider decent, but still worry about your mortgage, or you could lose all your savings to a medical bill.”
You can pay your bills easily, but you still feel like you should be saving more for your retirement.
A few signs of your anxiety around money are becoming more serious.
- Aches and pains. Perhaps you get a headache or upset stomach when you look at your bank account.
- Avoidance. Your bills might remain on the countertop for weeks because you can’t bring yourself to go through them.
- Analysis paralysis. Even minor decisions like which sponge to buy may bring you to a halt as you review the costs of each option.
- No work-life balance. You may feel you have to dedicate every waking hour to work in order to stay afloat.
- Rigidity. You might plan your budget down to the penny and get upset whenever you have to make even minor changes.
- Rumination. Maybe you can’t stop thinking about your 401k and check the stock market multiple times a day — in bed, at work, or while running errands.
- Trouble sleeping. You might lie awake at night wondering about things like the next unexpected expense, or whether you’ll ever be able to retire.
Financial anxiety is caused by an uncertainty of what the future holds. It is a fear of not having the resources to meet your needs or face challenges that lie ahead.
If you have money, you are more likely to be stressed about it.
A history of deprivation
Poverty can be traumatic. If you have ever gone without food or housing, you might feel a little bit paranoid. You may go to extreme lengths to save money if you need it later.
Since you have already experienced a financial hardship, you might be more likely to think of a worst-case scenario.
This trauma can span generations. If your parents lived in poverty, they may stress the importance of earning and saving money. They might set heavy expectations on your shoulders to reach a certain level of wealth for your family’s sake.
Low or unsteady income
“If you don’t have much money, you are more vulnerable to disruptions since you don’t have as much.”
“If you live paycheck to paycheck, you probably don’t have a savings account or home equity to fall back on in an emergency. A small delay in payment could keep you from buying dinner the last few nights of the month, or putting enough gas in your car to get to work, which would only set you back further.”
Working in the
gig economycan worsen your stress, suggests 2022 research. Gigs aren’t known for their stability. Your boss may have you work 30 hours one week and only 20 hours the next week, or cut your hours in half without warning.
This unstable cash flow can make it practically impossible to predict how much money you’ll have at any given time.
“Living has gotten more expensive and wages aren’t keeping up in many places. Inflation causes stress because money you thought was enough to meet your needs no longer has the purchasing power it once did. You may wonder how you will keep up with the changes as the ground shifts beneath you.”
Another key finding from the 2022 Stress in America survey mentioned above: Half of Americans listed housing costs as a major stressor.
Housing has become an especially worrisome expense for several reasons, according to 2022 Pew Research Center findings:
- More people want to buy homes due to low mortgage interest rates.
- There are fewer houses being built.
- Large companies and private equity firms have reportedly bought 15 percent of available homes as investments, mostly in low-income neighborhoods.
All of these factors can drive up the prices of housing. And when homes become more expensive, so does rent. According to Pew Research Center:
- The percentage of American renters who are cost-burdened is 46 percent.
- A quarter of American renters spend at least half their income on rent.
“Unlike purchases, you rarely have a choice to pay debt. If you miss payments regularly, you can accrue interest and the amount you owe can grow quickly. You might feel like you won’t get free of your debts as they get bigger.”
Student loan debt, in particular, can be extremely stressful. A 2021 survey by Student Loan Planner examined mental health trends in 2,300 student loan borrowers with high debt levels. One in 14 respondents said they had considered suicide at some point during their repayment journey.
Financial anxiety can make it hard to live a full life. It can also factor into mental health and emotional concerns.
“You can feel resentful or even angry when you are anxious. When you are worried about paying the bills, you may find yourself in arguments with your loved ones who don’t seem to take the situation seriously.”
“If you and your family don’t talk about money until you have to, conflict can become more likely.”
Money anxiety can easily get in the way of restful sleep. Worries about bills, unplanned expenses, or other financial concerns can keep you awake long past your bedtime. Consequently, when morning comes, you might find it even more difficult to get up and face the day.
Over time, insufficient sleep can have a major impact on your health, memory, and mood. It can also increase your risk of developing health concerns like:
- The heart disease is very serious.
- high blood pressure.
- There is a disease called diabetes.
- worsened anxiety
It can be difficult to conquer your debts and expenses through typical methods. Gambling is an option for getting the money you need since a tiny hope might seem better than no hope.
But gambling may not help the situation, and the combination of gambling and anxiety could make matters worse. According to a
An inability to throw things away is a symptom of the disorder.
While a number of factors can contribute to this mental health condition, money anxiety could, in some cases, lead you to hoard certain items. For example, you might:
- Save food for a long time.
- Keep napkins for spills.
- If one of your appliances breaks, collect multiples of every appliance you own.
- “Even though you don’t have enough room to store all of them, save every bag or box you find.”
It can be helpful to recycle. Saving things you might need later on is not a problem.
At some point, you will need to throw things away. If you get sick or injured, you could end up costing you more money in the long run.
If you feel anxious about money, you might be able to use alcohol or other substances to cope.
Alcohol and drugs might offer a temporary distraction from things you don’t want to think about, but they won’t help you address what’s triggering those feelings. They can also pose some health consequences, including the risk of dependence or addiction.
“When you have money worries, your first instinct is to ignore them. They won’t go away if you avoid your fears.”
These strategies can help you address both your anxiety and the underlying financial issues that are provoking it.
Blow off some steam
It is hard to calculate income and expenses when you are racing a mile a minute.
If you’re finding it tough to focus, try a 10-minute break to ground yourself and improve your mood and focus:
- Take a walk around the block or do jumping jacks.
- Listen to music.
- Try some breathing exercises.
- Try a short meditation.
It might be easier to consider your bank statements if you have a clear head.
Make a budget
A budget can help you plan where your money will go each month. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping you don’t accidentally spend too much on groceries, you can set a firm limit to stay under while you shop.
According to a
Read the fine print
“If you don’t have a background in business, financial contracts can feel intimidating. Money decisions can feel less daunting if you brush up on your financial jargon.”
You can hire a guide to help you understand the language and show you the land in a way that is understandable.
Join a union
There are a lot of things that unions can do.
- Negotiating for higher pay.
- advocate for your rights.
- Ensure job stability.
It can help you feel more secure about your job and income.
A 2013 British study considered companies undergoing organizational changes like mergers. Such changes often raised stress levels, but union members tended to have less anxiety than non-union employees. Why? Union negotiation appeared to help soften the impact of layoffs or budget cuts, lowering the risk for individual workers.
Consider social support
People hide financial issues because they feel embarrassed or blame themselves for their situation. Lots of people have trouble with money, often because of their own.
Even people in your circle who have prestigious jobs and wear expensive clothes can experience money anxiety.
Problems of any kind are less frightening when you face them together. You can turn to friends and loved ones or members of a support group.
- You can vent your fears and worries.
- Discuss solutions.
- Give and receive a helping hand.
You can join a mutual aid group and explore the resources in your community.
Money anxiety can cause lasting distress and support from a mental health professional can help.
Even if you have a tight budget, you still have options for affordable therapy. Many therapists offer sliding scale fees, for example, so people who can’t otherwise afford therapy can still access support.
What can professionals do to help?
“Therapy can still have benefit even though money isn’t a mental health diagnosis.”
A therapist can help you.
- Address trauma around money or deprivation.
- practice strategies for communicating with your partner or family about money in a healthy, respectful manner
- identify and address Depression., anxiety, and any other co-occurring concerns, from difficulty discarding unneeded items to increased substance use
- examine patterns of distorted thinking, such as “I need to make X salary or else I’m a failure”
- let go of shame and guilt around past financial mistakes or difficulties
You might want to talk to a financial counselor who can help you with your finances.
A financial counselor can help you.
- explore more efficient ways to pay off debts
- The application paperwork for public assistance benefits is complete.
- Money management skills can be learned.
- Get more familiar with other financial information.
Plenty of people are worried about money these days. However common they might be, these lingering feelings of money anxiety can leave you overwhelmed, to say the very least. Over time, they could also contribute to serious mental health concerns, including Depression. and chronic anxiety.
It can take time to resolve long-standing financial challenges, but you don’t have to navigate your fears and worries alone. A financial counselor can offer more guidance with the numbers, while a therapist can support you in finding helpful self-care strategies and techniques to manage anxiety and stress.
Emily Swaim is a freelance health writer and editor who specializes in psychology. She has a BA in English from Kenyon College and an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts. In 2021, she received her Board of Editors in Life Sciences (BELS) certification. You can find more of her work on GoodTherapy, Verywell, Investopedia, Vox, and Insider. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.