10 Ways to Stop Worrying About Money

Posted by on Apr 14, 2009

It seems worry about money and the economy is everywhere, and it is hard to not get sucked in to the fear that is so pervasive in our country at this time.  According to Pew Research, more than seven-in-ten Americans say they worry about money, either often (35%) or sometimes (37%).  For more information on this research you can click here.   I found myself being aware of worrisome thoughts today as I wrote checks to the IRS and the state of Colorado for money owed for taxes.  As I wrote the checks, thoughts started to creep in like, “You were not expecting to put this much money towards taxes!”  and “What if an emergency pops up and you don’t have the money to pay for it?”

Equating Money With Survival:

I doubt there is one of us out there that has not been worried about money at some time or another.  Even if you tend to not worry about other things, money can get assigned a special status because we equate money with survival.  If money is tight, it can literally feel like our very survival is threatened.  However, it is not.  What we actually need to survive and what we are convinced we need are two very different things.   It is really our sense of self that feels threatened.  Most of us have some version of the belief, “I am a worthy human being if I make money” running through our heads.  If enough money isn’t being made, our sense of self plummets, and we worry.

The Effects of Worry
:

Worrying has negative effects on our lives including:

* Increased stress and tension in the body
* Health problems
* Extra strain on relationships
* The inability to enjoy the present moment
* Difficulty focusing or getting things done
* Trouble sleeping
* Being short tempered or easily frustrated
* Feeling helpless


10 Ways To Stop Worrying About Money:

1. Stop traveling to the future in your mind.  Worry is generally thoughts about the future.  If you let yourself experience the moment you are in, are things ok?  Take a moment to notice your breathing.
2. Ask yourself, “How do I feel?” Shift your focus from your thinking to the physical sensations in your body.  What is happening in your body when you are worried?  See if you can be kind to yourself, no matter what you notice.
3. Be creative. Start a garden to lower your grocery bill, utilize your local library to check out movies, music, and books, clean out your closet and take some clothes to sell to a consignment shop, or check out local universities as they often offer free events.  If you are taking steps to save money you will feel good about your efforts.
4. Take care of yourself.  Self care can be the first thing to go when worry takes over.  Get enough sleep, drink enough water, exercise, and take some time each day to relax.
5. If needed, allow yourself a short period of time each day to worry. For some people this can be helpful.  It is important to set a time limit (I would suggest no more than 10 minutes a day) to allow yourself to worry.  It might be helpful to write down your worries.  Once you have acknowledged them, ask yourself, “Is thinking about the same worries over and over really going to help me?”  Take responsibility for your thoughts.
6. Don’t stay glued to the news. Every time you turn on the TV, radio, or computer, the message is the same, “Worry about the economy!”  Overloading your psyche with this message is not helpful.
7. Ask for a raise.  Are you due for one?  Can’t hurt to ask!
8. Offer to help others. Expanding your awareness beyond yourself can give you a new perspective and it also helps you feel good!  You can volunteer in your community or start closer to home and offer your spouse or child help with a chore, homework, or a task.
9. Be grateful for what you have. When you find yourself worrying, take a minute to think of the things in your life that you are grateful for.  What is going well in your life?
10. Don’t equate money with your sense of self. If you find yourself doing this, remind yourself that money does not define your self-worth.  For more information on this, click here.

How can I not worry during this economy?

There is a common misconception that worrying is a way to solve a problem.  But is it really?  What does worrying really do, except create stress?  It is not proactive, productive, supportive, compassionate, or helpful in any way.  You have no control over the economy, but you do have control over yourself, where you put your attention, and how much weight you give your worrisome thoughts.


Trying a new approach:

Jim (not his real name) was overwhelmed by the financial responsibility he felt towards his family.  If paying the mortgage and saving for his daughter’s college education weren’t stressful enough, watching his retirement account dwindle was pushing him over the edge.  His worry had gotten out of control and he was unable to sleep at night.  He also found himself feeling extremely irritable.  By the time he came in for therapy, Jim knew that he had to try something new.  I presented him with several of the options listed above, and asked him to choose one. Jim chose to focus on self-care, which he’d been neglecting.  He reinstated his exercise routine and committed to eating a healthy breakfast with his wife and daughter every morning.  After one week, Jim noticed a difference in the amount he was worrying.  “Exercising is helping me reduce my stress, and it also is helping me sleep at night, because I feel tired.  Eating breakfast with my family has also been good- instead of worrying about my daughter I am spending time with her, and it puts me in a good mood, especially since she will be going to college soon.  I am realizing the preciousness of our time together.”

The 3 that don’t worry:

This article lists several things you can try to decrease your worry.  It is important to realize that ultimately you do have a choice about how much attention you give your worrisome thoughts.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, choose an idea that seems the easiest to you and try it out.  Pay attention to your experience as you make the change.  Since statistics show that 7 out of 10 Americans worry about money, that means that  3 out of 10 don’t.  Wouldn’t it be great to be 1 of those 3?
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16 Comments

  1. I continually worry, mostly about money. I am a trained professional with an MBA, MS in finance, and PhD work in biochemistry (didn’t finish). I’m 63 and worry that no one will hire me because of my age. I’m taking steps to act as a consultant. My focus has been in University consulting since I have done that in the past. My IRA is virtually gone. I invested it in one of the companies in which I was chairman, and the stock has tanked, and we are almost out of money…about 3 weeks left. I have brought other people into the deal, and feel awful that they may loose their investment.

    I just don’t know what to do. I’m going to take some of your suggestions, but honestly I have heard these before, and it is my fault that I didn’t follow the advice. I have gone to Behavioral Modification Therapy counselors, but I honestly haven’t tried to do what they say.

    I’m a recovering alcoholic, 30 years sober, and have thought about drinking more than I ever have since I got sober.

    Sorry for the long message.

  2. Thanks so much for your honest comment on my article. Money is a hard one because of all it represents- things like safety, freedom, and fun. I think it comes back to your relationship with yourself, and not “beating yourself up” for your choices as it does no good. If you’d like to talk further, please email me. There is a contact me page on my website.
    Sincerely,
    Jacey

  3. This article has many good points. However, if you are unemployed with no money coming in, money is about survival–keeping a roof over your head, paying bills. I’ll still try the things you mentioned. it is true that worrying does do a lot of damage–but so hard not to do when the money keeps going and none comes in to replace it.

  4. Hi Dianne,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your experience. Worrying about survival is indeed stressful. I wonder, is this different than worrying about money?

  5. I am 12 years old. My mom is a single mother that only has one job. We live with some family but we also got to pay rent,phone bills,electricity and etc…. my mom took some loans out but she stop paying now they call my house asking for my mom. I am afraid that one day they will come to my mom and arest her because of she not paying. Sometimes when I get my allownce I think how can I help my mom’s debt. Your solution is very helpful!

    Sorry for writing this but I need to tell someone this!

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience with me. Single mothers work very hard and I know your mom is doing the very best she can. I’m also sure she would not want you to worry about her not paying bills. Generally people do not get arrested for this. There are credit repair companies that try to help people who are struggling financially. Here is a website that may be of some use: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0058-credit-repair-how-help-yourself
    Best of luck to you and your mom.
    Jacey

  7. I’m 36 still living at home. Moved my boyfriend in a few years ago to top things off. Parents have good jobs. I am applying for disability. Parents really want me to get this. Boyfriend quit his job. I am so worried about him losing his car. I feel like the whole world is caving in around me. This economy is so bad and I don’t see how anyone is happy. Depression is killing me.

  8. My partner and I stumbled over here different web page and thought I should
    check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.

    Look forward to looking over your web page again.

  9. Welcome to my site. So glad you found your way here!

  10. I’m so sorry that somehow I missed your comment. How are you doing? How can I help?

  11. illness of the mind has kept me out of job market for almost 30 years. so no income earned.worried about not having any pension.feeling very scared.can you give me any advice.thank you.

  12. Jacey, thanks for your insightful article. I am single parent working full time, but I want to go back to school and complete my degree. Ihave saved about half of my annual salary with the hope that I will nlt have to work while attending school. Even with a substantial amount of savings, I still panic and worry almost constantly about not having enough money. It occupies most of my day! I hope that once I have my degree that will make me feel more secure. I agree with your idea that the fear stems from a fear to survive and also to maintain the things in my life that I feel bring me happiness (going to dinner, plays, etc…) Again, thanks for addressing this topic which I am sure effects everyone to some extent.

  13. Thanks for taking the time to comment Ashley. Best of luck to you finishing your degree. I’m sure it will be worth it end the end. You are right – I think this topic does effect us all to some degree. We have to keep working with our anxiety.

  14. Henry,
    My deepest apologies for not replying to your post sooner. It’s hard to give advice that will be meaningful. I hear that you are scared and needing reassurance that you will be ok. It seems like you have overcome many challenges in your life by what you shared. This may be your guiding strength. Wishing you the best.

  15. It is true worry doesn’t solve any of the issues at hand currently on ones mind,however it is part of our human nature to worry. I am a singe parent two kids, mortgage, bills etc., unemployed and now benefits have stopped as of 12/31. I went back to school and received a certification in Microsoft Office applications thinking that would enable me to find a better job having the skill set that is required out there. It has been 7 months of diligent working and still to no avail is work around the corner. I am 53 and it seems they want the younger employee as opposed to the older one. I am also registered with 20 employment agencies… it just doesn’t make sense. I am trying very hard to remain positive but it is a very depressing scenario. I think it comes to the luck of the draw to be the chosen one for a particular job… Financial security is one of our predominant thoughts…. what you earn is how you live your life and I think everyone deserves what they consider to be a better life with financial security, a sense of peace and a sense of purpose to fulfill. Perhaps not in this life but maybe another? I wish the word worry didn’t exist. Thanks for listening.

  16. Hi Lisa,
    Sorry for the delayed response. Thank you for your reply and sharing your thoughts. Being a single parent is especially challenging. I hope you have been able to find a job?
    Sincerely,
    Jacey

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