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Personal Finance

Feeling anxious about your finances? Here's what you can do to calm your nerves

Financial anxiety can manifest itself in all different ways. Select is here to help.

JGI/Jamie Grill

When it comes to managing our money, we face so many stressors on a regular basis — like, dealing with a surprise car repair and medical bills, to budgeting our paychecks to keep up with inflated grocery prices.

But financial anxiety is more than just worrying about how much money we have in the bank. Anxiety over our finances can show up in all sorts of ways, and in some cases, it can lead to health problems like high blood pressure. At times, it can even become debilitating to the point where it's difficult to go through our day as it relates to our money.

If you think you may be feeling more stressed than normal about your finances, this article can be helpful. Below, we define different examples of financial anxiety and how it can manifest itself, and then we cover get to how you can repress it.

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What is financial anxiety?

"Financial anxiety is more than just general worry about your money or checking your budget," says Corbin Blackwell, a CFP at Betterment. "It's a deeper and a more generalized anxiety about obsessing over your finances and how everything in your life impacts it, and also feeling like a failure because of where you're at."

Although worrying about not having enough money is an example of financial anxiety, Blackwell wants us to know that that's not the only instance of experiencing it. Financial anxiety can also be when you obsess over saving every single dollar, become hyperaware of where your money is going or you imagine situations where you lose all your money. All of these examples involving your finances can cause uneasiness or worry that keeps you up at night or disrupts your day-to-day living.

What causes financial anxiety?

According to Blackwell, there are many triggers that can cause financial anxiety. Some common ones include a potential job loss, a money misstep, a lack of personal finance education or your childhood beliefs about money.

"There's so much research out there about how your family unit introduces you to your relationship with money, so it can definitely be a trigger for how people relate to money," Blackwell says.

For example, if you grew up seeing your parents struggle with money or go deeper into debt to afford basics, you may have gone into adulthood with a fear of debt. Or, unexpected expenses and paying for big-ticket items may leave you feeling hypervigilant about spending because you worry you won't have enough to cover other costs.

On top of this, it's also common to experience high levels of financial stress around your income, especially since the cost of living keeps rising.

"In general, things are very expensive, so it can be stressful to think about the amount of income you earn in relation to how much it costs to live — especially in cities," Blackwell explains. "A lot of things that people thought of as 'basics' are expensive and thinking about how to afford them can cause a lot of stress."

How do you curb financial anxiety?

To start curbing your financial anxiety, identify what's causing your stress in the first place. Here are three examples of things that cause financial anxiety and ways to address each one.

Cause: a lack of personal finance education

If much of your anxiety comes from not having learned financial literacy, your first step is to educate yourself — and know that you certainly aren't alone. Personal finance education courses are often left out of our schooling and are not a requirement until high school, if that, depending on the state you live in.

Blackwell suggests that those in this common scenario begin to learn about the fundamentals of things like budgeting and saving for the future so that they can feel a bit more in control. Today, there are tons of free resources that you can tap into to learn more about money management, whether it's through books, podcasts, newsletters or online articles.

Money Confidential, a podcast hosted by Real Simple, covers some common questions people beginning their financial journeys often need answers to. So Money, another podcast hosted by financial expert Farnoosh Torabi, spends a lot of time on a variety of topics — like how to earn more money, when housing prices will cool down and how to create a solid investment portfolio. The show's host also chats with experts in the field who can offer answers to all these questions and more.

But if you're not much of a podcast listener and you prefer reading, "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" by Ramit Sethi and "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill are two Amazon Bestsellers for personal finance.

Also, Select regularly speaks with experts on their advice for beginners who are looking to create a budget, learn the ins and outs of investing, pay off debt and more.

Cause: a money misstep

If your financial anxiety stems from a money mistake you once made, try to avoid harping on what's already done and instead look forward to fix it.

"The first step is to not beat yourself up," Blackwell says. "Don't dwell on the past because being mad about how much you spent on your credit card last month, for example, won't get you out of debt any faster."

Your next step, in this example, may be opening up a balance transfer credit card that can give you time to pay off your credit card balance without accruing additional, costly, interest. The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, for example, is one credit card that lets you make payments on your transferred credit card balance for an intro APR of 21 months with zero interest (after, 18.24% - 28.99% variable APR; see rates and fees) from date of the first transfer.

That's almost two years of an intro 0% APR period on balance transfers; just make sure you have a plan to pay off your balance in that timeframe so you don't then start collecting interest once the 21 months are up. All transfers must be completed in the first 4 months and there is balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater.

Cause: your childhood beliefs about money

It's sometimes not so easy at first to see how our financial habits and values today are a big result of how we were raised to think about money. But if you aren't sure what is causing your financial anxiety, it's worth taking a trip down memory lane to see how your childhood plays a part in how you handle finances today.

If you discover that your "financial upbringing" may be the reason that you are hyperaware of going into debt, for example, Blackwell recommends focusing on building an emergency fund. With an emergency fund, you can relax a little knowing that you have a safety net of cash to rely on.

Consider opening a high-yield savings account — like the Ally Online Savings Account or the Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account — for your emergency fund needs. This way, you can earn slightly higher amounts of interest and grow your balance just a little quicker.

Bottom line

If you find yourself feeling anxious about your finances, take some time to pinpoint what may be causing it so that you can feel more in control about how to help yourself.

And don't forget that there are always professionals, like financial counselors, who can coach you through your money management so you are never alone. The most reputable credit counseling organizations are nonprofits, and you can take advantage of their programs free of charge or at an affordable fixed rate. You won't pay high fees to meet with one, like you might with a financial advisor.

To get started, search for an accredited counseling organization in your area on the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) website or by phone at (800) 450-1794. You can also search on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website or call at (800) 388-2227.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Information about Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the banks prior to publication. Goldman Sachs Bank USA is a Member FDIC.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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