Worried about money? If you’re not, you’re weird.
Money is one of the biggest things Americans worry about, even more than their jobs, families or health. The crazy thing is, money worries directly impact your well-being in the rest of those areas. So, I want you to be weird!
6 Ways Money Worries Affect Your Life
Here are some of the worst effects of worrying about money:
1. You start obsessing over what-ifs.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had the whole world on edge. In addition to being afraid of getting the dang virus, people are also scared of losing their jobs, anxious about political drama, and uncertain about the future of our economy.
As much as I hate to admit this, there was a minute when I was really worried about what would happen to me. There were days when I believed we’d be okay financially, but then other times—usually after watching too much news—I would get fearful and start asking, “What if?” And if you’ve ever been in a what-if spiral, you know those scenarios can get out of control fast. They happen all the time in everyday life—not just during a pandemic.
2. You have more fights about money.
When money is causing stress in a relationship, you can feel the tension. This is especially damaging in marriage. It’s hard to be encouraging, empathetic or even romantic if you’re constantly worried about money.
Why do you handle money the way you do? Break bad money habits for good.
When emotions are flying or the weight of your finances becomes too much, one of you is going to say something with a little less grace than usual. It’s no surprise that money has been a leading cause of divorce for decades.
3. You’re primed for financial infidelity.
If the topic of money always turns into a fight, someone in the marriage may be tempted to hide their spending. They’ll sweep it under the rug and keep it a secret rather than engage in the conversation and make purchasing decisions together. This is called financial infidelity, and yes, it’s as serious and sad as it sounds!
4. You waste valuable time worrying.
As a believer, I know that God created each of us with unique purpose. Whatever it is that brings you joy—whether it’s parenting, running, organizing, leading others, taking photos, planning for the future—I believe those passions were woven into your personality for a reason.
What I don’t believe God ever intended was for us to waste time worrying. Matthew 6:26–27 (NIV) says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[AP8] ?” Guys, if we believe that God cares for us even more than he cares for the birds, why waste our time worrying?
5. Your physical health suffers.
Studies are showing that money stress is a factor in more health issues than we realize, like diabetes, migraines, cardiovascular disease, sleep problems and more. What’s worse is that more and more people are putting off going to the doctor because of the expense.2 So it’s a vicious cycle and a real health problem.
6. Your mental health suffers.
We’re seeing more millennials with higher rates of anxiety and depression because they’ve been baited into debt at a young age. One particular story that sticks with me is from a young woman interviewed by the Borrowed Future podcast. Her name is Terry, and she shared how stressful it is to see her student loan balance grow even though she’s making steady payments.
“I made a $100 payment, and $5 went toward the principal, and the rest went toward interest,” she said. “So I'm just never moving forward. That $15,000 loan grew $45,000 in interest. There were times I just wanted to give up.”
You guys, that kind of stress is gut-wrenching. Terry actually became so depressed that she contemplated suicide. She said, “I was worth more dead than I was alive.”
It breaks my heart, but that’s how so many people are feeling because they worry about money. Let me just stop right here and say, if you’re feeling this way, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK. Friend, you’re not alone. There’s always hope. I know it’s hard and the deck might be stacked against you. But there’s always something you can do to change the course of your life and stop worrying about money.
How to Stop Worrying About Money
It is possible to put money worries behind you. Here are the steps:
1. Focus on the facts.
My friend, mental health expert Dr. John Delony says this all the time, and it’s so true: Facts are your friends. The what-ifs almost NEVER play out, but we spend so much time, energy and fear on them. Just focus on what’s true and real for you—putting blinders on to what the rest of the world has to say.
2. Make a plan.
Your plan is everything from your monthly budget, to working a plan to get out of debt or save an emergency fund, to a long-term investment plan for your retirement. A plan will help you control what you can control—your money.
For example, here’s our plan for getting out of debt: the debt snowball.
Start by being honest with yourself about how much debt you actually have. I know you’ve maybe been avoiding it, and it might hurt a little. But open up those accounts and pull up the numbers. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better after we’re through!
- Write down all your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rates. You’re going to make minimum payments on everything but the smallest balance.
- Pay extra on your smallest debt. I mean, you need to attack that thing with everything you’ve got!
- Once your smallest debt is gone, take that payment (and any extra money you can squeeze out of your budget) and apply it to the second-smallest debt while continuing to make minimum payments on the rest.
- Once that debt is gone, take its payment and apply it to the next-smallest debt, and so on. The more you pay off, the more your freed-up money grows and gets thrown onto the next debt—like a snowball rolling downhill.
When you’re working a plan like the debt snowball, peace of mind follows. You might be thinking about your money more than you were before, but you’re not worried about it. There’s a difference in obsessing over what-ifs and staying focused on a plan.
3. Be aware of your weaknesses.
If you want to stop worrying about money, having a plan is key. But just about the time you feel like you’ve finally got a handle on your finances, something is bound to happen that will tempt you to slip back into old habits. Your car needs a new transmission, and it seems less painful to put it on a credit card. Your friends invite you on vacation, and instead of missing out, you dip into your emergency fund. It’s time to send your kids to college, so you take out a Parent Plus loan.
I don’t know where you’ll be tempted to pause your progress, but it happens to the best of us. That’s why it’s so crucial to be aware of your trouble spots. You don’t need to dwell on them, because that’s not healthy either—but knowing what they are will make it so much easier to stop a bad habit right in its tracks.
I talk about this in my new book, Know Yourself, Know your Money. It’s where I share my research on how to make lasting change so you can make actual progress with your money like never before. You can learn more about that here.
How to Never Worry About Money Again
Almost every great success story has a never again moment. Maybe right now in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is yours!
My great-grandpa lived through the Great Depression, and he said never again. He got smart with money and achieved financial success because a crisis woke him up.
My dad hit rock bottom, filed for bankruptcy, and said never again.
What about you? Are you ready to change your mindset around money? Are you ready to stop worrying, stressing and losing sleep about it? Are you ready to say never again? Never again will you be at the mercy of some global economic crisis. Never again will money keep you up at night.
If you want to know how to stop worrying about money for good, check out my new book: Know Yourself, Know Your Money. It will help you discover why you handle money the way you do, and what to do about it! You can start reading for free today.
Money isn’t an area where we want to be normal. Normal is stressed out and broke. Be weird!