Why You Need to Face Your Financial Fears
What if I told you the fear you have around money is the hardest part of getting control of your finances? Sadly, there isn’t a budgeting app to help you face the discomfort you have around money, but I’m here today to break down WHY money is so scary for so many of us (myself included!) and how doing nothing about it is actually making the situation much, much worse.
The things I want you to take away from this essay are a framework for how you can examine your financial fears and steps you can take to overcome them.
First of all: I HATE talking about money.
I’ve always had a deep fear around money, one that told me everything was going to fall apart at some point.
To this day I open my bank account with one eye open. It’s one of the last things I like to look at. This avoidance has cost me so much money in fees and mistaken charges and other oversights that I just kept putting off talking about money altogether. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for me, my accountant has forced me to look at the real numbers.
And I’m here to say, I not only survived an intense financial audit, but I also came out realizing the primary thing to fear about your finances is literally fear itself.
Why is money scary??
We like to be comfortable. If you grew up having very uncomfortable and negative experiences around MONEY, you probably think money = bad.
Not having enough? Bad.
Having too much? Bad.
Caring about money? Bad.
Rich people? Bad.
My point is that opinions about money and your position in society are directly related to how your brain interprets danger and survival. It’s our access to safety, food, and potential partners, and it’s our ability to keep our family safe.
A lot of us fear bad news; a lot of us fear looking at decisions we’ve made that we can’t undo; a lot of us wrap our worth up in what we think the numbers say about us. All of that is very emotional, and that’s really the biggest overriding reason why finances are so scary.
There are some very real financial problems and societal burdens that are placed upon people, and I don’t deny that. What I’m saying here is that we all have the ability to make positive changes to our financial outlook, and it begins with facing our financial fears.
How can we face our financial fears?
What I’m realizing is the more you avoid the thing that you fear—whether it’s the number in your bank account or the amount of credit card debt you have—the greater the issues you’re facing become. And if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you won’t be in a place to begin to solve any problems.
Instead of continuing to let our financial fears paralyze us to the point of inaction, let’s take a more productive approach.
First, get a handle on your numbers.
By taking an honest look at your financial situation and knowing your numbers inside and out, you can have a full grasp on the reality of the situation. It might not be comfortable at first, but the more you practice facing exactly where you’re at, the easier it will get and the more equipped you’ll be to approach any problem from an objective perspective rather than an emotional one.
Second, get to the root of your fears.
After you have a handle on your current financial state, examine what exactly about your finances makes you so uncomfortable. Ask yourself questions like:
Why am I so afraid of checking my credit card statement?Why do I feel guilty when I spend money?
Why do I feel, despite making a comfortable living, that I’m in danger of losing everything?
Why am I undercutting my value when asked to provide a quote for my services?
Why does it scare me to ask for what I feel my services are worth?
The point is to actually answer these questions truthfully. Likely, there is some past trauma to uncover, memories you’ve repressed, or beliefs you hold that you learned from someone who influenced you as a child.
Maybe you fear financial success because your parents held negative beliefs about money and power. Maybe you feel like you’ll never have enough money because there was always a financial scarcity in your childhood. Maybe you have anxiety about finding yourself in a vulnerable financial position because of a devastating loss in your past.
When I started asking myself these questions, I realized all my fear was about making a mistake. I worried I wasn’t a good business owner; I worried I wasn’t good at saving; I worried I was going to let my family down. I’d historically been so afraid that I’d avoided looking at ways we could make the most of our income, and I had essentially robbed myself of the opportunity to make empowered financial decisions.
Third, ask yourself, “How can I make those things less scary?”
Take your financial power back into your own hands by deciding what actionable steps you’ll take moving forward.
For me, I realized that I could make finances less scary if I had someone to talk to about them. I started talking with one person in my business about where we are with finances—someone I’m really comfortable with, someone I trust to tell me the truth, someone who’s action-oriented. At home, I had open dialogues with Joe about our ideal budget and our financial goals.
This change gave me my own agency and power, which was a huge shift from what I had been doing before: wallowing in the fact that finances are uncomfortable and scary.
Instead of allowing the discomfort you feel about finances to derail you, accept it as something you might experience for a while, but not forever. The discomfort isn’t as uncomfortable when it’s something you know is temporary. The fear isn’t as all-encompassing when you know it’s something you have the power to overcome.