The Emotions Around Money & How To Handle Them
Save, budget, pay off debt, plan for retirement.... It's easy to talk about the things we need to do with our money without really focusing on the emotional aspect because like many other things in life, money is simply a tool, a means to an end. However, money is a tool that has a huge impact on how people get to live their lives and as a result and also due to human nature, we tend to attach a great deal of emotion to it.
"Money is a tool that has a huge impact on how people get to live their lives and as a result and also due to human nature, we tend to attach a great deal of emotion to it."
So in this post, I'm talking through some of these common emotions - Anxiety, fear, anger, regret, shame, embarrassment, Jealousy - and how to handle them.
Anxiety & Fear
Having anxiety or fear about money is all too common. You worry about it, how you'll earn enough of it. How you'll your pay bills. You worry that you'll loose what you have. You worry that you can't manage it well enough. You worry so much about your financial situation that it becomes stressful or you even start to avoid your finances all together.
What to do: When you start feeling anxious or fearful about your money, instead of staying stuck, ask yourself, what can I do to get past this? Automate your finances, create a budget, talk to an accountability partner or money expert. Don't allow yourself to stay stuck, make yourself take action.
Anger & Regret
These are the shoulda, woulda, coulda emotions. You wish you hadn't spent that much. You wish you had saved more. You wish you hadn't give away that money. You wish you never opened that credit card. You wish you never racked up that much debt. You hold on to so much regret. And then there's the anger. You get mad at yourself for being so irresponsible. You get mad at your parents for not teaching you about money. You get mad at the world for your situation...but the thing is, what's done, is done.
What to do: Ever heard the saying "There's no use crying over spilt milk?" well there's no point in regret because it gets you no where. Instead of regret, think forgiveness. Forgive yourself for your past financial mistakes and keep it moving.
It's ok to get mad though, but channel those angry feelings into good use. Get so mad that your mindset becomes one of "never again". Get so mad that you create a solid budget and strategy that ensures you never fall back into your ways of poorly managing your finances. Don't hold on to regret and anger. Let them out, let them go and keep moving forward.
Shame & Embarrassment
When it comes to money mistakes, shame and embarrassment are all too common money emotions. We are ashamed that other people will judge us for our money mistakes and we are embarrassed to admit we've made mistakes. We want to look good in front of our friends and family. We don't want to admit our money situation is not that great especially when society is telling us that by a certain age, we are supposed to have accomplished certain things financially.
The good news is that every one has made mistakes even the smartest and wealthiest people in the world and believe me when I say they've made several (Just do a google search on your favorite successful people). Anyone who tells you they've never made a mistake with their money just hasn't made one yet.
What to do: Similar to your emotions with anger and regret, forgive yourself for your past money mistakes and then realize you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself. It's time to let go of the shame and self judgement and instead take the lessons you've learn't and move forward.
The grass always looks greener on the other side until you get to the other side and you realize things aren't what they seem. Jealousy also comes in a milder form which is known as keeping up with the Joneses. The trouble is, when people try to keep up, they end up living beyond their means, getting into debt and pushing themselves much further away from their financial goals.
What to do: Practice gratitude and contentment instead. Take some time out every day to remind yourself of the things you wanted in the past that you now have. Instead of feeling jealousy, channel those feelings into motivation, to work harder, to fine tune your goals and to do better within your means. And always remember, there are things you have, that someone else is praying for.
It's human nature to feel emotion but what matters is how we channel our emotions and how we put them to use. When it comes to our finances, it's about not giving up, not staying stuck and about taking the lessons we've learnt from our money mistakes and applying them to our next steps.
Bola Sokunbi is the founder of Clever Girl Finance and she's passionate about helping women take control of their money so they can live life on their own terms.