• Is Money Stressing You Out? Remember These 3 Things

    Money money money,
    Must be funny,
    In a rich man’s world
    ~ABBA

    Money stress

    Money is a big stressor for most people. One of the biggest. You need it for basic survival: to buy food, to keep a roof over your head, and to keep clothes on your back. You also need it to pay for your kids to participate in extra-curricular activities and take drivers education, despite the fact that it was probably provided at no cost when you were in school, depending how old you are. And it’s always nice to have a little left over so you don’t feel as if you’re totally deprived.

    For the middle and lower socio-economic classes, money’s in high demand and short supply. And it seems that the demand keeps rising and the supply keeps shrinking. Wages aren’t keeping pace with inflation, and the technology that once was considered a luxury is quickly becoming required in many workplaces and schools in the form of cell phones, tablets, and laptops, and they’re not always provided by employers or schools despite being required (but that’s for another post on another type of blog). One example is this: When you were in school all you needed was a quarter (or less, depending on your age) for the pay phone to call your parents to come get you after your extra-curricular activities. Now there are no pay phones, so kids need to at least have access to a cell phone, which has a monthly cost upwards of $50-100 dollars, depending on which plan you have.  All this technology is wonderful and highly useful, and it’s anything but cheap!

    I’ve said many times that we’re our own worst stresses, and that especially applies to money issues. I resemble that remark as much as the next person, so no judgement. We’ve all stressed ourselves out over money at one time or another, and most of us struggle with some sort of money issue on an ongoing basis. Whether it’s “keeping up with the Jones'” or wanting the latest technology as soon as it’s released even when our bank balance tells us that perhaps now is not a good time, we can stress ourselves out in very short order.

    Why You Stress Yourself Out About Money

    Many of us have limiting beliefs when it comes to money, and it really behooves you to find yours. I can tell you from personal experience that discovering mine was the first step to radically reducing my money stress. I think some of my limiting beliefs are fairly normal, so I’ll share a few of them (as well as the insights about them that helped me) to help you get started on your own list:

    • I’m a crappy saver – I was told this over and over in my childhood. Truth is, kids are impulsive. Just because I was impulsive with money as a child, doesn’t mean I have to be as an adult. As an adult, I have the life experience to be more discerning than I was as a child. Besides, I have already proved this belief wrong by saving large amounts of money for specific things, like my honeymoon in Ireland. There are many shades or layers to this belief and I’m still working on some of them, but I know I’ll fully overcome this belief sooner rather than later.
    • Rich people are crooks – Again, this was told to me over and over in childhood. How in the H. E. double toothpicks was I ever gonna get rich if I thought all rich people were crooks and I wasn’t? I don’t want to be a crook, but why should that automatically disqualify me from having lots of money? I started thinking about all the people “with money” that I knew personally (acquaintances didn’t count) and realized that I didn’t consider any of them crooks. Lightbulb moment!
    • I have [insert embarrassingly small dollar amount that hadn’t changed much since I was a kid] so I’ve actually got some real money – This one was tied very closely to the next one, so I’ll deal with both of them together there.
    • I have some money so I need to buy the things I want NOW while I’ve still got the money – You know, before I spend it on something I need, like savings. Funny how these last two beliefs always led me to be broke, despite the fact that I felt like I had money. I never had money for long, but I had things and that proved that I had money. This one is clearly part of a scarcity mindset; a mindset that is reinforced by product advertising on a daily basis. This one’s definitely still a work in progress.

    Conquer Your Money Stress

    I’ve found 3 things that have helped me immensely when it comes to beating back my money stress, and hopefully they’ll help you too:

    1. Change your priorities – This is about changing your mindset and the words you use to describe your money situation. Instead of thinking or saying that I can’t afford something (even when that’s true), I tell myself that the item or service I want to buy is not a priority right now. My priority is always to pay the necessary bills for food, shelter, gas, etc. before buying a new shirt or my favorite Starbucks chai, so I’m not lying when I say “it’s not a priority.” You don’t have to use my words, but whatever words you use to express your new priority mindset must be truthful or they won’t work.
    2. Keep an inspiring money quote on your desk, wall, computer, or somewhere else that you’ll see it every day – My favorite is “When you become a good steward for the money you already have, you trust yourself to handle more. And that’s when more shows up.” ~ Cheryl Richardson
      When I first read this quote it resonated with me on a level that other money quotes never did. That’s the kind of quote you want to choose for yourself.
    3. Change your definitions about whatever aspect of money you’re having the most trouble with – I was having dinner with a couple friends fairly recently and we were talking about a few of our money issues and limiting beliefs (we tend to have deep conversations about whatever topic is on our minds) when one of them said something to the effect that ‘Wealth is not how much you spend, it’s how much you save.’ Ding ding ding. Another lightbulb went off. No. It’s more like it exploded. I was struck by how myopic my view of money and wealth had been. I mean, how can anyone be considered wealthy, or even comfortable, if they don’t even have enough savings to see them through a couple months with no (or reduced) income.

    Now I’m not a financial planner or wealth guru. My tips aren’t designed to help you get wealthy, only to reduce your stress around the issue of money. I sincerely hope that these few tips help you lower your money stress as much as they helped me.

    If you know someone who has some money stress, don’t forget to use the sharing buttons just below the post to share this post with them.

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