Hi. I’m financial anxiety- and I’m not very friendly
If you’re a twenty-something person trying to navigate through life, I’m sure you’ve already met the gang– social anxiety, acute stress, and overthinking.
If you’ve somehow managed to get past them, here I am. While there’s no age at which I can start, rest assured that your age group – i.e the struggling millennials and lost Gen Zs are my most frequent visitors.
If you aren’t too sure about knowing me up-close and personal, ask yourself this - have you recently felt short of breath, muddled in thought, and panicked, all because of your finances?
If yes, there’s a possibility we’ve met.
You see, while worry, stress, and panic is normal in one off financial situations, feeling overwhelmed by your finances all the time isn’t. If your financial stress has taken over your regular life, making you feel worried about your money at all times, then you know me already.
Still confused? Here are some signs we know each other -
Avoidance - Now I get it, many of you like to avoid looking at your finances but I only stomp in once your avoidance becomes a full-fledged coping mechanism. I’m that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you have problems with money but still go ahead living life like you have it all together. Heard of “ignorance is bliss”? You don’t check your account, you don’t track your expenses. You know you might be messing up, but it’s all in the corner of your head. If you’ve been doing this for a long while now, I’m probably crashing on your couch and eating your groceries, friend.
Overspending - Funny right? Why would someone who has troubles with money spend like they own the Trump Towers? That would be hilarious.. if it wasn’t painfully real. Another sign of financial anxiety is being in no control of your splurges. In fact, these give you momentary relief because you think “oh well, look at these things I have. They hold as much value as the money I spent.”
Pain in spending - Honestly, there’s no middle ground here. On one hand you spend without any control, on the other, you feel terrible in doing so. If you’ve felt jittery, breathless, extremely worried and clouded as you spend or right after it, you probably want to check your financial anxiety status.
If these weren’t bad enough, I’m known to cause depression, paranoia, obsessions and more. To add to this, I have only made myself a guest to more people once the pandemic began. According to a KFF report, 35.8% of people have experienced symptoms of anxiety since COVID started. Stress about job loss, less income, and shifting to remote work have been strong reasons for this.
Now I know I sound like a terrible villain. Terrible in the sense of not being noticeable but also being dangerous. I know none of you want to have me around, and to be frank, I’m tired of seeing you guys make terrible decisions. I want to leave, but unfortunately, that depends on you.
If you want me gone with the same passion I want to leave, here are some things you might want to try
Create a budget - Hey you, I understand, you like to avoid. You’d rather watch Reels for three hours than help yourself a bit, but this is crucial. Having a budget is not only going to give you an idea of where you’re going to spend, it’ll show you how you will as well. At the end of it, you’ll know where you overshot, and you can evaluate if it was worth it.
Start saving - I know some of you have tried to do this and failed, and the others have just obsessively thought about saving. Here’s a tip - just start. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it doesn’t have to start off with a purpose either. Just start keeping some money aside and let it grow. Eventually, it can help you pay debts, or even build an emergency savings account - both of which will make you feel far more secure than you currently are.
Seek help - I’m the last thing that should be saying this, but some of you are really worried about problems you can actually solve. Obviously, you don’t see it from where I do, or from where a professional does. Seek help. If it’s troubling you to the extent of taking over your life, reach out. And no, help won’t cost you as much as being financially anxious will.
You and I both know that life isn’t a bed of roses all the time, and so, it’s normal if I happen to see you now and then. What isn’t okay is you being alright with having me around very often. I don’t care if it sounds cheesy - but your finances can be in your control. If you have been feeling financially anxious off late, know that it can change. But only with your first step.
Remember, comparing yourselves to rich influencers on Instagram or to a colleague who seems to hold it better, is not going to do anything. Start small and start today. If not for your sake, then mine.