How to Beat the Fear of Being a Bag Lady

How to Beat the Fear of Being a Bag Lady

Shelly wakes up in the middle of the night worried about her future.

She tosses and turns but can’t stop worrying if she’ll have enough money to live on when she retires.

All of her friends seem to have plenty of money and good jobs. She compares herself to them and worries she’s so far behind in saving that she’ll never catch up.

She thinks about the ways she spent money frivolously and berates herself for not saving enough money.

Shelly is not alone.

In almost a decade of teaching women how to transform their relationship with money, the number one fear that I see is the fear of not having enough money as they age.

A 2013 study by Alliance titled “Women, Money and Power” found that even though women are continuing to make strides in their earning power, the majority of women still have this irrational fear that they could end up being a “bag lady” – being homeless, alone and penniless.

According to the Alliance study, 49% of women are afraid of ending up broke or homeless.

After the fear of losing a spouse, the thought of running out of money in retirement is what 57% of women say keeps them up at night.

This irrational fear is not only among lower income earners. One third of women that earn $200,000 or more also worry about becoming a bag lady.

Making more money won’t solve the problem.  Even wealthy people suffer from the fear they won’t have enough or they’ll lose what they have.

This fear spans all age groups and categories of women from single, divorced, married, widowed and high income earners over $200k.

So how do we women manage our financial stress? We take charge!

How to work with your inner bag lady fears:

  1. Ask yourself, is this a real fear or an imagined fear of a future that hasn’t happened yet.  This is the fear that has us living in a van down by the river.  This is a projected fear from your inner lizard – the reptilian brain that all mammals have that keeps us alive.  This is not real.  Write down your fears.  Get them on paper and out of your head.
  2. Take charge of your finances.  Look for areas in your financial life that you avoid.  Make a pact with yourself to look and get in touch with what you have and what you owe.  Start with one small step.  Maybe it’s not charging any more on your credit card or perhaps you start saving a little each month so you start a new habit.  Doing nothing will increase your anxiety and perpetuate this fear.
  3. Take care of yourself.  Are you allowing your partner or husband to take care of the finances.  I experienced this and when I started having a money date with my husband monthly to review our expenses and finances, I felt empowered.  Regardless of whether you live alone or with a partner, get your finances in order.  Make files, keep your financial house in order and take steps to know exactly what you owe, what you have in savings and what you spend each month to live.
  4. Forgive yourself and others.  If you or your partner has made financial mistakes, forgive yourself.  Living with regret is toxic and it only causes you to suffer 100% of the time.  Write down what you blame yourself for financially and forgive yourself.  “I now forgive myself or others (whoever that may be) for past financial mistakes and to work from this day forth on creating a positive financial future.” You can create a ritual and burn the paper to signify releasing it.
  5. Tap out your financial worry or overwhelm.  I recommend that you use one of Brad Yates emotional freedom technique videos to tap away your stress.  This takes about 10 minutes. Financial Fear (worry and stress about not having enough money).
  6. If you have a big money issue to work through – bankruptcy or foreclosure, loss of money), contact Byron Katie’s Helpline.  The Helpline is a free service with trained facilitators like me to help you question that fear or limiting belief to open your mind to the truth. About 90% of the time the truth is the opposite of what you believe.

Here’s to your financial freedom!

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve had the bag lady fear or if you have tips on how you overcame it.  

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