Every adult faces financial stress, especially when making large purchases. However, if the idea of spending money induces extreme anxiety, you might be one of many people who suffer from the fear of spending. While others may see you as a penny pincher or call you stingy, it could also indicate a real disorder that inhibits many people from doing things they love. Here are a few tips from health care professionals to help you overcome the fear of spending.
What is the Fear of Spending?
If you cringe at the thought of spending money, you are not alone. With nearly 70% of Americans facing debt and an additional 15% reporting a negative net worth, there is enough fear to go around. However, there is a real disorder that goes much further than fear of an uncertain financial future or burning through your retirement savings too quickly. Chrometophobia is the extreme fear of money. It is an irrational fear of money far beyond the normal financial stresses. While the symptoms vary between sufferers, it includes fears of spending it, managing it, thinking about it, or even handling it.
It the most extreme cases, it can severely inhibit a person’s quality of life and ability to function in society. It becomes most detrimental when a person is unwilling to address unhealthy habits towards both spending and savings habits. According to behaviorists, this fear can manifest in many ways. However, here are some of the most common symptoms:
- hesitancy to think about money
- fear of running out of money
- unwillingness to buy necessities or pay bills
- avoiding activities you once enjoyed to save money
- needing to constantly count your money or check account balances
- refusal to handle money
- depression and physical sickness from anxiety over your financial situation
If you feel that you experience many of these on a regular basis, you should discuss seek professional advice and an evaluation to get the help you need.
What Causes the Fear?
Although there is no single cause, most phobias develop after a traumatic experience or conditioning to an attitude. For example, if you have been living in a frugal mindset to pay down debt, you condition yourself to scrimp and save. However, it could lead to a scarcity mindset where you are afraid to spend any money. Some psychologists also suggest that the fear stems from feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or intimidation. Finance is a complex topic and often difficult to understand. So, it is easy to see why people would fear it if they felt overwhelmed and underinformed.
Additionally, society teaches us that it is improper to discuss finances. It is culturally taboo to discuss money and financial matters, particularly mistakes and money concerns. Unfortunately, if you internalize these worries, it can impact your mental and physical health.
How Do You Overcome the Fear of Spending?
While extreme cases are rare, many people have anxiety about spending money. Those who have learned to cope with it say the key to overcome the fear of spending is to use money as a tool to create a more fulfilling lifestyle. Here are a few more tips they shared to help others who experience the same challenges.
8 Tips to Help You Overcome the Fear of Spending
1. The most direct approach is to tackle your fear head on.
As mentioned above, phobias are usually tied to a specific, traumatic experience. So, it makes sense that your first step is to identify the problem. If you are aware of where the fear stems from, you can better cope with it and plan ahead.
2. Determine what you value most and prioritize your spending
When creating a budget, knowing what is most important to you and your goals can make decisions easier. Evaluate your monthly spending habits and allocate resources towards things you value most. Money is not something to be feared, but rather a tool to help you achieve your goals.
3. Know the difference between living below your means and the scarcity mindset.
The first rule of saving is to live below your means. However, you should not feel guilty about spending money if you are not living excessively. You can allow yourself to spend some money as long as you are not going into debt or missing important payments.
4. Become proactive with your financial planning.
One way to cope with anxiety is to anticipate problems and become proactive about financial planning. Not only can you set up short and long term goals, but you can also implement technology to keep you on track. There are plenty of helpful apps to help you track and meet financial goals. Furthermore, you can set up automated reminders for account balances and payment dates to help you avoid spending money on late fees and penalties. Lastly, you can also automate monthly contributions to ensure you continue to build your emergency fund, savings, retirement, and education accounts.
5. Diverse your income
If you are worried about making more money, look for new ways to earn income. You could get a second job, take up a side hustle, or find other ways to generate passive income. Not only does it increase your monthly budget, but it also provides financial security. If for some reason you lose your primary source of income, you know you have a safety net in place.
6. Think of financial health as part of your self-care routine.
A healthy lifestyle is all about balance. So, you should view financial health as part of your overall well-being. This means taking time to attend to financial matters. Set aside a designated time to deal with issues to reduce anxiety and keep you on course.
7. Focus on the progress you have made, not where you think you should be.
Planning is a great tool, but even the best-laid plans can go off the rails. Progress may not be as fast as you would like, but you should always celebrate the victories, even the smallest ones. While you may still have a long way to go, use milestones to mark your successes.
8. Talk about it.
You might be surprised how many friends and loved ones face the same stresses and fears. Talking about them can help you overcome the fear of spending if you realize you are not alone. However, it may be wise to seek professional advice if you cannot manage it alone.
If you think your attitude towards money is holding you back, seek expert advice to help you evaluate your situation. For those who don’t know where to begin, find a financial advisor to analyze your situation and help you create a plan. However, if you feel that your fear has become irrational or uncontrollable, it may be time to talk to a health care professional to determine if you have an extreme fear of spending. You are not alone, and with the right tools, you can conquer your fears.
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