Financial Free for all: 9 Tips to Avoid Money Anxiety

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If I had $10.00 for every psychotherapy client who listed money problems as a reason for seeking counseling, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.

I’d be sipping Piña Coladas on the tropical island adjacent to Ricard Branson’s.

Humor is an essential resource for any financial tool kit.

So is gratitude.

And not to bring anxiety into the quarterly statement, but I wager the majority of us are thankful we’re not living in certain European countries.

Economic downfall is especially dire in Italy, Spain and Greece. According to Newsweek magazine (June 25, 2012) the financial collapse has spawned a wave of suicides never reported in the past 100 years.

In Canada and the United States, we’re seeing an increase in workers who complain of stress and anxiety. Loss of productivity, health problems, and general lack of emotional well-being are byproducts.

Have you had a frank financial conversation with your central nervous system lately?

If not, it might be a good time to schedule a visit an annual visit with your physician and/or your accountant.


Your mental health isn’t tangible like the account balance in your checking account.

If you’re feeling distracted at work, having difficulty sleeping soundly at night, or consumed with worry because you don’t know you’ll swing for your 12 year-old’s birthday party, read on.

The good news is you have the power to reverse your financial situation.

The bad news is you have to put action behind changing your financial situation.

Have no fear, the shrink is here:

Caveat: You must have a systemic approach which consists of commitment, hard word, and intrepidness. Oh, and personal responsibility. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re in debt, or uncomfortable with your expenditures. Just remember, you got yourself in this situation and you can get yourself out! Action is where it’s at.

9 tips and strategies to keep the financial anxiety at bay:

1. Fire your emotions–Check your reasons for purchasing non-essentials. Are you spending to fulfill another need? Think self-esteem, social status, physical appearance, insecurity?

2. Find your inner anxiety crusher–get mad about your debt. Be angry that you’re not sleeping like a baby. Only when you change your mentality, will you commit to doing things differently.

3. Write a Debt Declaration and enlist a buddy to hold you accountable. “From this day forward, I pledge to do the following to live a modest lifestyle…”: Fill in the blanks. Make a vow to donate to a cause that is not aligned with your core values, should you not succeed. (For example, a tobacco company, human trafficking organization, Jenny Craig, etc.). Not only are you helping yourself get rid of that piling credit card bill, you are also helping other people in the process.

4. Track your monthly spending. I know, I know–this is Money Matters 101, but if you don’t know where the Benjamin’s go, you can’t recover them.

5. Get rid of unwanted items (which is probably equivalent to 1/2 of your personal possessions). So the in-laws sprang for the woods, irons, putters, and a bag–are they hitting anything in financial range while stored in the garage rafters?

6. Barter for over-the-top expenses. If Junior’s gymnastic membership is eating 30% of your monthly disposable income, is there a way to volunteer your expertise? Think financial planning, website development, SEO expertise, marketing, landscaping, etc. Surely there’s a way to trade off the tuition for what you do best.

7. Do an insurance audit, and switch carriers if need be. Think auto, apartment, home. Have you shopped around for at least three different quotes? Caveat: some insurance companies will offer a low premium to get you in the door. Check your policy when the renewal is up, and make sure you’re getting the same rate as last year.

8. Don’t buy non-essentials for one month. If you truly want to put your money savings mettle to the test, try this challenge. I committed to attempted this challenge in December 2012: Other than two comfy dog beds on sale, and a few drastically reduced wardrobe items, I just ‘said no’ to the unnecessary gifts, home purchases and delicious Pad Thai takeout. Taking control of your desire to spend and splurge will help you in the road to a healthy financial life.

9. Envision your perfect day without financial stress. How do you wake up? What does the commute look like? How do you spend lunchtime? What does 1-5 pm convey? Pre-dinner rituals? What flavors do you savor at dinner? How do you relax and unwind before bedtime? Lastly, think of how refreshed and energized you’ll feel upon waking after a good night’s rest. Money may not buy happiness but it sure helps you sleep better at night.

Bottom line, financial stress is a huge culprit in your emotional well-being. The good news is you can change all that.

The future begins now.

Author Bio: Linda Esposito, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, CA. Her motto: “Anxiety advice that works!”

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