Ever wonder how it would feel to stop worrying about money? Before I hit financial rock bottom at age 26, I constantly worried about money. Will I have enough money for all the bills this month? Will that check clear my account before payday and cause me to be overdrawn? Where in the world will I come up with the money to pay for this major car repair? Sometimes the intensity of money worry was high, and sometimes it was low. But it never went away completely.
About a year after I embarked on my journey to financial health, I remember driving to work one day, and the thought struck me: “I’m not worried about money!” It was a shock to me because, for the previous seven years, all I did was worry about money. I didn’t realize how much money worries affected me until they disappeared. At this point, I still hadn’t achieved debt-free status, but I had my plan and was making tangible progress.
How to Stop Worrying About Money
Woman’s World Magazine recently interviewed me for an article on this very subject. The editor quizzed me on how I help my clients to stop worrying about money for over 30 minutes. Of course, only a tiny snippet of our conversation made it into the final article. And several of the most vital pieces of advice (in my opinion) weren’t included. So, I feel compelled to give you a comprehensive approach for how to stop worrying about money.
Step 1 – Face the Financial Facts
The first step to decreasing money worries is to face the facts. Yes, it’s time to get organized and get your arms around your current situation. We dread facing the reality of our personal finances because we’re afraid of what we’ll discover. But the “not knowing” actually causes more stress than facing the financial facts. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can see where positive change is needed and make a game plan for action.
Step 2 – Shift from Negative to Positive
Telling yourself a new story about your finances helps propel you in the right direction. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of negative self-talk, especially when we clearly see the money messes we created. What you focus on, you get more of in your life! That’s why it’s important to shift this negative self-talk to positive money mantras.
There is a problem that can crop up when creating these mantras. Your current negative self-talk might be this: “I never have enough money for all of my bills! I’m always worried my account will go negative!” You decide your new mantra will be, “I’m a multi-millionaire! I have more money than I could possibly spend.” The problem? Even though your new mantra sounds good, it makes you feel bad. Why? Because being a multi-millionaire seems light years away from where you are, it feels impossible. And that certainly doesn’t feel good at all.
Your new, positive money mantras need to both sound good and feel good to you. What you need is a “bridge mantra” (or maybe two or three of them). A bridge mantra is a step in a positive direction that feels good to you. In the example above, you tried to go from a negative bank balance to a net worth of millions, which felt impossible.
Instead, your first bridge mantra might be this: “I have plenty of money for all of my bills, and I keep a minimum balance of $1,000 in my account.” This feels really good because it’s not so far out of reach for you. Plus, you can put together an action plan to make it happen. Once you achieve this mantra, you can decide what is the next better feeling thought that will bridge you closer to your ultimate goal: being a multi-millionaire!
Step 3 – Employ the Dynamic Duo of Worry-Busters
Tap into the “dynamic duo” of money worry busters: gratitude and generosity. We all have things to be grateful for: a warm bed, a roof over our heads, family and friends who love us, running water, and a hot meal. I recommend writing down three things every day that you’re grateful for. It’s a great way to focus on the positive and put the negative into perspective.
One of the best ways to stop worry in its tracks is to put your focus on helping someone else. I remember being depressed about moving back into my dad’s spare bedroom after hitting financial rock bottom. “I’m homeless!” I wailed. (A bit dramatic, I know!) My dad patiently reminded me that living in his spare bedroom in suburbia for a few months was very different from being homeless and out on the streets. He suggested I take a tour of a homeless shelter and start volunteering or donating a small amount of money to the cause monthly.
When you give your time, talents, and yes, money, it shifts your focus outward, away from your worries and toward true abundance. Generosity and gratitude compound your positive emotions. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how they boomerang back more abundance into your life and finances!
Step 4 – Baby Step Your Way to Success
Creating awareness and positivity about your money is only half the battle against worry. You have to take action and start moving in the right direction! When I first start working with my Financial Dignity® Coaching clients, I can immediately see 19 actions they can take to improve their money situation. However, if I gave them all 19 to-do items after the first session, they’d be overwhelmed and feel paralyzed. So, I only give them two or three things to work on over a two-week period. “That’s it? Okay, we can do that!” By the end of six months, we’ll get to all 19 things. But it’s best to break things down into baby steps to make forward progress feel easy for you.
What’s the one area of your personal finances that’s causing you the most worry right now? What are three things you can do over the next week or two to make progress? Let’s say you’re worried because you have no money in savings. Here are three easy things you can do to improve the situation. 1) Open a savings account. You can probably do this online with your current bank. 2) Take all the spare change that’s accumulating around your house and in your car to the bank and deposit it into your new savings account. 3) Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account one or two days after payday for a set amount. Even if it’s just $10 or $20, get started!
So, there you have it, a step-by-step roadmap to finally stop worrying about money all time! Sure, you might have occasional bouts of financial worry when something major like a job loss happens. That’s normal. What’s not normal (or healthy) is living under a constant burden of money worries.