5 Ways to Feel Less Anxious About Money
All you wanted to do was take out a $20 from the ATM when you get a ping recommending a balance inquiry. You freeze: Do you really need to know your bottom line right this instant? In a word, no. But you do want to get to a place where you don’t break out in hives at the suggestion. Here, how to get a grip on your cash flow and reduce your money worries at the same time.
Spend a Week Paying for Things in Cash Only
It’s so easy to swipe your debit card here and a credit card there, but if you’re really trying to create a reality-based budget—it helps to pay for all your purchases in cash to see exactly where your money goes. (Six bucks four times a week on coffees…hmm…) By honing in on your daily spending habits, you’ll be one step closer to identifying savings opportunities.
Stop Following the Markets Every Single Day
You invested. Brava. But now you’ve got to rely on your diversified strategy and let the gains and losses run their course. We’re not saying don’t keep tabs and pivot based on what the market is telling you, but if you live and breathe by daily ups and downs, you’ll make yourself crazy. You’ll also be living out a quirk psychologists call “loss aversion”—basically, the art of fretting over portfolio dips and not celebrating profits. Make a plan to check the Dow average three times a week versus three times a day.
Spend Socially Rather than on Material Things
It’s a money habit of happy people—spending on experiences is scientifically proven to make you happier than spending on things. It’s called the “hedonic treadmill,” and it’s the idea that we get used to things over time, so what once brought us joy (say, a new dress) no longer does (oh, that old thing?). In addition, all that material-obsession stuff can make you compare yourself to other people (anxiety! anxiety!) whereas experiences—like a dinner out or a vacation—don’t.
Employ a Financial Expert
It may cause money anxiety up front (like we said, it’s not easy lifting the curtain to reveal your true bottom line), but employing a financial planner can help you set a more accurate budget, but also identify places where your money can work harder for you than you originally thought. (Maybe this means a credit card that earns you points…or a savings account with a higher annual percentage yield.)
Set Aside Some 'Mad' Money
About that budget you’re building: Of course, you have to prioritize expenses like housing and groceries, but what about just-for-you financial splurges that don’t work into your bottom line? To solve for this—and remove the guilt and anxiety attached—add a regular “expense” to your monthly budget where you pay yourself to have fun. Even if it’s small (say, $50), it will add up over time. Keep in mind, this is different from your emergency savings. It’s basically an account to draw from where you don’t have to justify your spending. Instead, it’s a treat yourself moment, no (anxious) strings attached.