Money is an emotional subject and one that we don’t like talking about. Yet it impacts all areas of our life – how we live and how we spend our time. The fear of money activates our reptilian brain and even though we aren’t living in the wild and hunting and gathering our food (and watching out a tiger in the bush), our brain is wired to go on high alert to any threat. If we feel fearful about money, we will naturally avoid it because this is how we are wired. I like to say the only way out is through.
If you want to stop living in fear of money, you must face what you fear and take small baby steps to start facing your finances. Your future depends on it.
Looking at our numbers is actually what can help us take better financial care of our family and ourselves. Money loves attention just like any relationship you have in life. The more attention you give it, the less fear you will have.
The way to get out of fear is to take small action steps: fear + action = courage.
Nine Common Money Fears
- Fear of becoming a Bag Lady – this is the number one fear most women have and it’s a real syndrome. It’s the fear that we will be broke and homeless as we age and not able to afford medical care. According to the 2013 Women, Money & Power Study from insurer Allianz Life, 50 percent of American women fear becoming a “bag lady.” This fear spans all types of women even 27 percent of women in the study earning more than $200,000 per year. The study shows that after the fear of losing a spouse, running out of money in retirement is what keeps 57 percent of women up at night. The average woman aged 65 lives six years longer than the average man. As a result, she is typically widowed and living alone. What we resist will persist and in fact it will make you even more anxious. Start today by doing one small thing to look and give one area of your finances your attention. Check out this video I made on the Bag Lady Syndrome here.
- You fear budgeting, finances and paying the bills so your partner or spouse does it all. This is a common practice with women. I admit that I have done it in both of my marriages. Now my husband and I talk about our biggest money leaks, and as we move into our remodeled home early next year, we are going to create a new household expense budget because he has one more year to work before he retires. Women tend to live an average of five to six years longer than our spouses. At some point, we will be on our own and will have to face our finances. This point was driven home recently when a friend of mine suddenly lost her husband. Losing a spouse is not the time to take over finances and thankfully last year she took over all the finances and they revised their will and looked at life insurance policies. Now she doesn’t have to live in fear of not having enough. Although she is grieving and will be for some time, she knows she is taken care of.
- Money can cause a lot of problems in a marriage. Not talking about finances can lead to a divided marriage. Maybe one of you is a spender money type and the other is a saver. Those are two very different money personalities. Hire an outside financial person to help you understand what you need to save for retirement and how to consolidate your debt if you have debt. You want to live within or below what you earn. If you have a spouse or partner, start talking about finances.
- You are afraid to look at your bills or bank statements. You think avoiding looking at your bills is better than knowing what you owe or have or don’t have in the bank. Face your fear – to make money you must give it attention on a daily or weekly basis.
Not knowing or looking at what you have in your accounts or how much you owe actually leads to more anxiety and fear. Get a trusted person – a friend or a financial adviser, banker or accountant — to help you review and interpret your financial documents. The more often you look at your finances, the more motivated you will be to do something about it. I keep a monthly tally on my desk of potential new clients I talk with each week. It has my client goals on it for the month broken down by the week. In order to make more money in your business or at your job, you must look at your numbers and know how much money you have in your accounts. You must have earning or savings goals. If you don’t look at bank statements, you might be paying overdraft fees, which could lead to other problems.
- Fear of budgeting – we all have lots of excuses – mine was “I am not good with math and my mind goes into overwhelm looking at budgets.” This is a fear disguised as an excuse. Here’s how the mind works on fear: We over complicate things or procrastinate – this is a form of fear. Take small steps toward what you fear most – this is a way to desensitize yourself. So make it a positive experience, put on calming music, light a candle, and sit down and look at your bills or your expenses. If you can sort out what you “need” to pay each month to support your lifestyle or business, this is a good first step. Then you know how much you need to make each month just to have the basics covered. After your needs are taken care of, you can add in things that you want such as a health club membership or nice haircuts. If making a budget for the year is too much, start with a monthly budget. The point is to face the fear of budgeting and start now.
- Fear of charging what you are worth or asking for a raise. Women in the baby boomer generation were raised to be good girls and not make waves. We were socialized to put our needs last. I believe that women in general were not taught how to talk about money, how to make money and how to budget. I recommend you start now.
Some women fear that if they ask for a raise they might get fired. Negotiation is a skill you want to learn now. Find a friend who can help you practice and write out a script. Search Google like I did just now and find articles to help you. Here’s one that might be interesting to you – How to Ask for a Raise Without Getting Fired!
- Undervaluing your worth or giving your services away for free – this is common in the online world especially with new coaches. The biggest mistake I see coaches or new entrepreneurs make is to price their services by the hour. People will hire you because they have a problem they need to solve. You want to create a signature program that addresses that problem and promises high value and benefits. So instead of offering a one or two package of sessions, you package your services to create consistent income and consistent results. For example you can create a six-module package or 12-week package that you take a client through to solve their problem. You focus on the value you provide. Ask yourself, what is it worth to them to have that problem solved? What will it cost them not to have this problem solved? Always focus on the value you provide them.
- Fear of owning up to what you spend to your spouse or partner. When I grew up, my mom would go shopping at bargain stores and then hide the purchases from dad. When my sister reminded me of this when I asked her to tell me what she heard our parents say or do around money, this caused me to stop and think about when I did the same thing. I have done it in the past but I no longer do this. When we are aware and understand what we are doing – if it is not a positive behavior – then we can take action to make that change – that is transformation. Honesty is the basis for a solid relationship. It starts first with being honest with yourself.
- Afraid of not having an emergency fund. Women worry they don’t have enough money to save for an emergency fund. I want to tell you that if you start saving even $25 a month automatically out of your paycheck or when you pay yourself first in your business, put a small amount in a savings account. Make this a habit and as the years go by, you will have an emergency account.
- Afraid of not having enough money for retirement. This can be a paralyzing fear and it’s the same situation as not having an emergency fund. If you start today, I promise you will feel better about yourself. Start with any amount you can save and make this a monthly habit.
To overcome money fears, the key is to develop a closer relationship with money.
Money loves attention and while it may feel easier to avoid the pain of looking, it will increase your fear and anxiety. To look at your finances takes courage, and I recommend you take small steps. If you have made money mistakes in the past, I recommend that you focus on forgiving yourself now that you know better. We all have made mistakes and have some form of money shame. To release shame, find a compassionate witness who will listen and not give you advice or judge you for sharing. This allows you to release it and it will not have the emotional hold on you once you have shared it.
When overwhelm, stress and frustration hit, these are signals to pay attention to your thoughts and emotions; they are the language of your body. Your body never lies. It is talking to you constantly and when you notice these negative emotions, STOP, DROP, and OBSERVE. Ask yourself, what was I thinking or believing?
If you can grab the steering wheel of your life (your mind and thoughts) you can create the life and business of your wildest dreams. Stop, drop (into yourself) and observe what you were thinking. Then breathe and ask your inner critic to sit down and have tea. Don’t resist your thoughts or fears because it will only make them grow. Resisting them gives them more power. Just quietly bring yourself back to the present moment and breath. Remind yourself it is only a thought, it is not real, and that you need to be living in the present moment.
With these tools, you can break through your fears and take control of your money situation. Often when you face your fears, you’ll begin attracting more abundance than ever before!
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