Too many people have internalized biases and negative emotions about money, even if they’re not aware of these feelings that are holding them back. The way we grew up, our current financial situation, our family or spouse’s attitudes toward money, and all the marketing and messaging we’re subjected to dally all have a part to play in how we feel about money. While all this can’t be undone in one day or even months of work, it’s still important to recognize these feelings, understand how they might be impacting you financially, and slowly do the work required to better your mental health when it comes to money.
Whether you lean towards avoiding things when they make you feel bad or obsessing over them, having regular meetings with yourself can help you dilute some of these feelings. This strategy also helps people who get caught up in fear or excitement when the market inevitably fluctuates from their expectations. Having a quarterly review can keep you aligned to your original goals. Just like you go to a doctor for a regular checkup, you can schedule a financial checkup with yourself or an advisor to keep your finances on track.
Part of the reason so many people are feeling stressed out about their investments this year is the bull market we’ve had for the past decade. When your investments generate positive returns year after year, it’s easy to forget that businesses and markets always go through cycles and no upward trend lasts forever.
Add quarterly meetings on your calendar and commit to them. Don’t reschedule unless you absolutely have to – the same feelings that lead you to avoiding money conversations or checking your debt accounts will come into play here. But don’t underestimate the positive impact on your mental health from just knowing what your credit card debt or student loan debt number is and making a plan for paying it off. Commit to saving or paying off a portion of this debt for 3 months, and then you can reevaluate in your next quarterly meeting. It’s much easier to stay on track for 3 months than assigning yourself annual goals – especially in 2020 when there’s so much change happening month over month.
Even if you have a monthly budget or are able to save a percentage of your income, a budget isn’t an end-all, be-all solution to money management. Life can throw you curveballs, and you have to be comfortable with your short-term plans and budgets simply no longer applying to your life. A new child, school, divorce, retirement and even medical events can leave you feeling overwhelmed emotionally and financially.
An emergency fund goes a long way in eliminating some of the uncertainty around these changes. However, more importantly, it’s important to address the situation head on and find a long-term solution that works for your family. If you have the opportunity to do so, speak with a therapist or a financial advisor or even a trusted family member to find the best way to move forward financially.
What words come to mind when you think about money? If you’re using words like “stress” and “guilt” and “anxiety” about your money, it’s time to make a change. How we approach the resources we have available to us, including but not limited to money, has an impact on how we utilize them.
Financial intelligence is the basis for growing wealth. If we take the time to learn about how to take care of our finances, we’ll be better off in the long run. Some ways to grow financial health include:
Money and emotions go hand in hand, but your negative emotions don’t always have to play a role in your money management. There may be a mental shift required in order to start thinking about our finances this way — this process could potentially take months or years of work. On one hand, money can impact our stress levels, mental health and personal relationships. On the other hand, money can be a tool to take care of ourselves and our families, live a comfortable retirement, travel, and do other things we enjoy.