5 Ways to Control Your Anxiety About Finances
Editor’s Note: Erica Chau assists in the management of Finpipe.com, a free publication that aims to help others understand finances.
I’ve always been a little anxious. I was an anxious kid who turned out to be an adult with anxiety.
And over the years, I’ve learned to deal with my anxiety and there are lots of things that help. You know what doesn’t help? A global pandemic that’s been going on and on and on… and of all the things to be anxious about, I feel very fortunate and very privileged that I’m not anxious about finance.
Whoa, whoa, hang on — before you close this page or roll your eyes, let me make myself clear: I don’t have piles of money. I’m not rich. I’m definitely not a “rich person.” I work full-time, I pay bills, I save what I can. I am by no means a financial expert. I am, however, someone who has been lucky enough to learn about finances and yeah, there’s lots of information out there, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to start when you don’t know where to start.
Sure, sure, Google has lots of information, but it’s only useful when you know what you’re looking for.
You don’t need to have a million dollars to feel less anxious about your finances. And I won’t want to belittle your stresses by pretending I know what you’re going through, because I don’t. What I do know is we all need to start somewhere and this is what helped me, so I’m hoping that this can help you too.
1. Acknowledge that finances are a scary thing and that they may cause anxiety.
I get anxious whenever I’m faced with something that feels messy, chaotic and out of my control. This includes large bodies of water, airports and when I have too many things to do but not enough time to do them all. Finance, money and markets have always had this shroud of secrecy, with knowledge that “only those deemed worthy can understand.”
I call bull! Everyone can understand it, but there’s no shame or embarrassment about not knowing. Let me help you.
2. It’s OK to not know where to start.
Sometimes, we feel silly that we don’t know things that everyone else seems to already know. If you’re looking for the fundamentals, check out some of these things:
- What is a stock?
- How are bonds traded?
- How do I get out of debt?
- Or maybe you want to get into investing but don’t know what to look out for.
3. Have an emergency fund.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was unemployed. I got laid off and I was one of the millions of people waiting for their EI. I’ve written a few articles about it here and trust me, I feel your pain. Your stress. Your anxieties. Your sense of, “How will I make it through?”
While waiting the two weeks before my EI kicked in, I lived off of my emergency fund. This is money that I had squirreled away on my good days. My “rainy day fund.” An emergency fund is meant to cover three-to-six months of expenses and can be used for, you know, emergencies. Like your car breaking down unexpectedly. Or a leaky roof. (Can roofs leak?!) Or, you know, an unexpected global pandemic wherein grocery prices have skyrocketed and job security is at an all-time low.
4. You are not alone.
You are not the only one who doesn’t feel as though they have all their finances in order. You are not alone. People rarely air out their own insecurities about money and sometimes it can feel as though everyone else has it together. Talks about “investing,” “management styles” or “asset mix” can make you feel as though investing is hidden away in some secret black box, but really it all comes down to the same few concepts. All you need is a place to begin and the steadfast confidence that you can understand it with time.
5. Ask for help.
It’s OK to ask for help. You’re not in it alone and you aren’t the only one with questions!
I know it’s hard to start looking when the internet is so full of noise and puff pieces with supposed experts talking about the success of portfolios. Start with the basics and learn from a place where you know you can trust.
Visit reputable sites like FinPipe.com, which I help manage, where you can get objective, educational content to help. Then as you get more questions or want to dive deeper, make Google searches or even set up an appointment at your local branch.
In the wise words of Harry Potter: “Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now — students. If they can do it, why not us?”
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash