With everything from inflation to skyrocketing grocery prices to soaring interest rates to the instability of our larger financial institutions, we are all wondering how to stop worrying about money.
“Increasing costs of living or recent bank failures can trigger feelings of scarcity and cause us to catastrophize,” Morra Aarons-Mele, author of The Anxious Achiever. “While this isn’t a new worry, it has become more intense over the last few years.” It’s no wonder that a study published by Capital One found that more than 77% of Americans are worried about finances.
Though the topsy turvy economy has us all feeling uncertain about the future, one thing is for sure: Psychologists and financial experts say that easing your anxiety and growing more confident over money matters is easier than you may think.
Here, experts share 12 proven ways to boost your financial confidence and your bottom line.
1. Acknowledge the fear
It’s so important to acknowledge your fears as they arise, says Moira Somers, PhD, author of Advice That Sticks, a psychologist, family wealth consultant and executive coach. “When we don’t have answers, worries spin and spin until we feel like we’re spinning.”
To regain equilibrium, tell yourself, “I can’t know what’s going to happen and I am feeling afraid. But all I need to know is right here: My family is safe, and I’m okay.” This calms you, bringing you back to the moment.
2. Turn money stress into self-kindness
When you find yourself in a stress spiral about money, the key is to shift from negativity to self-compassion. “When you think, ‘What if I can’t save enough for retirement?’ for example, try to focus on a more positive thought,” says Christine Luken, who is the author of Money is Emotional, Manage Money Like a Boss and Financial Dignity After Divorce, the founder of the Financial Dignity Movement and a certified financial counselor.
“You might say, to yourself ‘I work hard, I’m saving money where I can, and it will be okay.’” Self-kindness curbs defeatist thoughts that keep us paralyzed in fear, so we can learn how to stop worrying about money and move forward.
3. Let ‘bigger hands’ support you
One of the greatest challenges of the current financial climate is that so much, from inflation to soaring gas prices, is out of our control, notes Luken. “It’s freeing to simply focus on what you can control and give the rest up to a higher power,” she says.
“I say to myself, ‘I’m going to take care of tracking my spending, and the rest is God’s responsibility, because the world’s woes need bigger hands than mine. As soon as you remind yourself that you’re in charge of your personal ‘economy,’ not the world’s economy, you’ll instantly feel less overwhelmed and more in control.”
4. Redefine financial success
Achieving your financial goals means being flush with cash and never making a money misstep, right? Not at all, according to expert Maria Nemeth, PhD, author of The Energy of Money, and a leading expert in leadership excellence, personal/professional development and financial empowerment, whose work has been featured on The Oprah Show.
“Financial success is doing what you say you’re going to do with grace, clarity, focus and ease,” Nemeth declares, recalling the inspiring story of a client who cleaned houses and wanted to start investing. “She decided to clean one extra house a month for $50 to build her savings — the minute she made that decision, before she earned a cent, she was being financially successful because she was being intentional,” explains Nemeth.
By the end of the year, the woman was able to stop worrying about money, save $600 and soon went back to school to become a virtual assistant. “Today she has three employees, all because she took one small, sweet step at a time.”
5. Tap true abundance
“It’s hard to be our best and impossible to be resilient in the absence of positivity — we can quickly start doubting ourselves and our capacity to recover from challenges,” declares Somers, explaining that when we’re triggered into seeing scarcity, that’s all we can see, and we don’t notice our blessings.
“When anxiety about money washes over you, look for evidence of other kinds of abundance — such as the fact that you’re healthy or you have a strong support network and can pick up the phone and call a good friend.”
Tapping into gratitude, she promises, opens up our field of vision, allowing us to access higher thinking. “For example, can use this time to learn new skills from free online tutorials or pinpoint items you can sell for extra cash? Once you make the mental shift toward abundance, you’ll be able to look at things more objectively and creatively, and problem-solve.” (For help in making the mental/emotional/spiritual shift toward gratitude, click through to this simple gratitude practices.)
And while it may seem counterintuitive, one of the fastest ways to escape the grip of financial fear is to give to others—be it your time or talents. It instantly redirects focus and boosts hope.
6. Savor your wins
“At the end of each day, jot down three things you’re thankful for—and include one thing that involves your relationship with money,” urges Nemeth.
That could include anything from being able to pay a bill to scoring a great deal. “When we focus on gratitude, our narrative around money changes from one of dread to one of dreams.”
7. Pick your ‘safe container’
To boost our financial confidence, we first have to know where our money is going — but facing our bills is easier said than done. “Most people with money worries will avoid looking at their accounts,” says expert Amanda Clayman, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and coach specializing in financial wellness for SheKnows media.
Her secret to how to stop worrying about money is what she calls a “safe container” strategy, which simply means scheduling a specific time to look at your finances, thereby “safely containing” your anxiety.
“For example, I check in with my accounts every two weeks, and put it on the calendar as ‘Amanda loves money,’” she says with a laugh. “I have a client who schedules her check-ins as ‘Grumpy accounting’ to bring a little humor to it—as soon as we acknowledge our emotions around money, we create grace for ourselves that leads to success.”
8. Focus on small changes
Most people think there’s an “on and off” switch when it comes to changing financial habits and how to stop worrying about money, but the truth is incremental shifts help you achieve your goals so much faster, says Clayman.
For example, rather than say, “I’m not going to do any online shopping this month,” you might tell yourself, “I’m not going to shop online at night,” because that’s when you tend to overspend, she advises. “We don’t have to overhaul our entire financial life—we’re more successful when we pinpoint small, realistic changes.”
9. Remember you are resilient
Our relationship with money has its ups and downs, and when we’re experiencing a financial ebb, it feels like the sky is falling. But the clouds will part, promises Clayman. “We’re incredibly flexible creatures, and research proves that one year after a major change to our finances, our level of life satisfaction returns to where it was before the upheaval.”
And that goes for positive as well as negative experiences: If you won the lottery, a year from now, your level of contentment would be where it was pre-jackpot, and by the same token, if you had filed for bankruptcy, in one year, you will have bounced back. “You’re more resilient than you give yourself credit for, and just remembering that is key to success in ways to stop worrying about money and beating stress in life.”
10. Focus on the big picture
When looking ahead to your financial horizon, to stop worrying about money go ahead and skip the “planning” part, says Clayman. “The word ‘plan’ requires a high degree of certainty, and that can make us feel like we need to work on something until we have a solution—it’s very overwhelming,” she explains.
Instead, think about your goals in terms of having a broader framework. “Make a date to look at money issues a few minutes a week, with a clear start and end-time, just to gather information and ask yourself questions like, “How much do I have? Do I want to make any modifications to my debts?”
This provides a wider, 360° picture, making you feel more grounded and oriented, so that you can come up not just with one option, but several, whether that’s changing credit cards or deferring loans. “A big-picture mindset you see how one financial shift can affect the others, giving you a greater sense of control.”
11. Connect with loved ones
One of the best predictors of getting through financial stress is social support, reveals Somers. “When hardships hit, women disproportionately deal with the fallout, from contacting creditors to creating the budget, and the anxiety we feel often makes us shut down,” she says.
“But this when it’s even more important to open up and have conversations with those whose financial destinies are connected to yours.” This may mean telling your spouse, “I just want to make sure we’re rowing in the same direction,” and talking about how you can help each other meet goals.
Or, if you’re among the millions of parents supporting adult children, even if that means tapping into your own retirement savings, just lead with honesty, she suggests: “Things have changed and the level of support we used to be able to provide isn’t possible anymore.” “These are difficult conversations, but they take a weight off you, so you’re not shouldering the burden alone, and you and your loved ones will emerge from these discussions with mutual respect.”
12. Look for new opportunities
Having counseled folks through major financial crises, including in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, Clayman always sees one silver lining: “People create meaning from these events — big shifts help us see new ways of solving problems.”
Whether being furloughed has made you realize there’s a new path you want to pursue or you’d like to turn a hobby into a sideline, “be aware of what speaks to your heart, and listen to those whispers.”
More expert tips on taming stress & anxiety:
For money saving tips:
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.