The stress and anxiety associated with not having enough to pay the bills is often discussed with heartfelt empathy. Do you know that savers often have money anxiety as well? It’s a misconception that all savers are good at putting away money because they’re financially savvy, and that they’re at peace with the world. Some blindly save and save and save, because they fear running out of cash, or making a bad decision that will erase all of their hard work. That fear is fueled if they don’t have measurable goals to compare what they have versus what they think they’ll need. Fear is often much larger than the actual problem.
Saving From Fear
My ability to save came from two very different places. My mother was great at budgeting…my father, not so much. My siblings and I thankfully learned from my mother. When my father quit his corporate job to work independently, we went through some lean years. I always felt loved, supported, and never did without. What affected me was the pain on my father’s face when he had to decide whether to buy milk with his last $5, or put it in the offering plate. My mother would worry aloud about paying bills on time. I vowed at a very young age that neither I, nor anyone I loved, would ever feel that hurt or anxiety. Those impressions of my parents so deeply marked my psyche that money became security.
Save For Joy
Fear can motivate, or fear can paralyze. I began saving for retirement the year I graduated from college, and created my own save/spend/reward formula to keep myself on track. Fear propelled me – but leading an intentional life with my own defined goals kept me on track. I watched my money behaviors and managed them, one at a time, over the years. In my early 40’s, I started defining how I wanted to use my money. I slowly transferred my fear of not having enough to a joy-driven exercise. My money flow (saving and spending) was directed toward my ideal life in the present and future. My anxiety subsided.
Banish Your Fear
To be sure, although the money anxiety can be equal, those who do not have savings are at risk. Savers can at least buy food and shelter, even though they worry about every penny spent. However, peace of mind and a journey to reduce money fear can start in a similar place.
I like the way my colleague Michael Kay, CFP phrases it in his book The Feel Rich Project: “What must happen in your financial life to provide the comfort and satisfaction that is important to you?”. Forget about the “shoulds” that everyone else dumps on you. What do you truly and personally need to reduce your fear and feel good about where you’re going with your money? What could you save monthly that would help you feel that you’re doing your best?
Similar Topic: 6 Tips to Confront Your Money Fears
So, What Do You Want to Do in Your Life?
For those who want to save more, these questions help direct your thought process. You probably don’t have all the answers, and that is OK. Just start with what you dream about – it gives you a target and motivation to start down a specific road. Deliberate focus drives deliberate decisions and actions.
For those who already save, you need to ask the same questions. And then assess where you are versus what you need to live the life you want. It provides a grounding in reality that will start reducing your fear of not having enough. You may already have enough, or you may not, but it can give you a similar target and comfort that you are on the right track.
Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Behavioral Cents, LLC and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.
Carrie Rattle is Founder of Behavioral Cents and a 30-year veteran executive of financial services. Behavioral Cents helps women build money confidence, gain control of their finances, and feel comfortable making their money decisions. We work one on one in a private, non-judgmental atmosphere with a program tailored to the individual. We help women assess their financial situation and change their money behaviors for the better – without deprivation. Thoughts always welcome: email@example.com.