Are there times you feel anxious or fearful when you spend money?
For me, it creeps up on both small and large purchases.
Should I buy that new dress? Am I saving enough money? Is there a better way to spend my money? Will I be a bad personal finance blogger if I splurge?
I freeze. I stress. I overanalyze.
It’s a frustrating headspace to be in. And I try to fight it.
I don’t think I’m alone in this battle, either.
So many of us feel fear when it comes to spending money.
While we all have our reasons for our fears, we can all use similar tactics to work with our fears and ease our stress.
Over the years, I’ve started to recognize when my fear of spending money arises and developed ways to tackle it.
It hasn’t always been a fun experience. But I have found that if I listen to that fear and try to figure out where it’s coming from, I can find peace with my decisions about whether to spend or not to spend.
Let’s take a look at what fear in general is, how we can use it as a teacher, and how we can work to ease our fear of spending money.
Fear: What is it Good For?
Fear is one of the most interesting emotions.
It’s meant as a way to protect us, but it can stop us in our tracks if left unattended.
According to Psychology Today, eliminating fear from our lives would be the equivalent of taking down our home alarm system because it sometimes makes loud and irritating sounds.
None of us want to be fearful. Being scared feels weak.
But fear isn’t intended to make us feel bad about ourselves.
Fear is our friend.
Fear exposes our limiting beliefs, beliefs about ourselves that constrain us.
Fear calls us to action.
It taps us on our shoulders ever so slightly, getting louder and louder the more we ignore it. It wants us to notice its presence so it can convey its message.
So when fear presents itself to you, listen. It’s asking you to dig deep, find the source of that fear, and work with it not against it.
Fear of Spending Money
Fear around money is normal.
Money is a powerful resource.
It’s only natural that the fear of how to best utilize it pops up in our lives.
But if we listen, we will notice that our fear is helping us to identify the limiting beliefs about money we all have. And by listening we allow ourselves to work through them and start feeling better about our money habits.
The first step is understanding where our fear of spending money is coming from.
Understand Where Your Fear Of Spending Money is Coming From
I know reflecting on why you are afraid to spend money isn’t the way you want to spend your Saturday afternoon. But unfortunately, it’s an important step to tackle your fear.
You must understand the source.
Let’s start by looking at some of the limiting beliefs that may manifest as a fear of spending money.
But first, let me say that your fears may be rooted in something else. Therefore, use this list of examples as a tool to get your brain thinking about your source of fear.
Financial uncertainty has hit many of us hard recently.
When we don’t know what our financial future holds, it’s no wonder why we are scared to spend the money we have.
During uncertain financial times, we often move towards stockpiling cash and trying to save on every single purchase. And the thought of spending any money on something that isn’t an absolute necessity freaks us out.
While our fear is doing its job and pushing us towards saving money to help protect ourselves, it’s not fun living in a constant state of fear.
If I Splurge I Will Fall Back into My Old Spending Habits
Like any habit, saving money is something we’ve worked hard to incorporate into our lives.
We went through the tough work of breaking old spending habits and creating new ones.
And to help us stay on the savings wagon, we believe that we must avoid spending money at all costs. We believe that if we splurge on one thing that we are going to start mindlessly spending money like before we adopted our current money habits.
Therefore, the thought of splurging on a purchase and taking a step backward, or what we perceive to be a step backward, is out of the question.
If I Don’t Meet My Savings Goals I’m A Failure
When we set goals, it’s only natural that we want to reach them.
It’s the same with savings goals.
No one wants to feel like a failure.
We want to meet those savings goals we set for ourselves, so we vow to follow our savings plan to a T.
Because if we don’t, we are a failure. And our fear of spending money takes over.
I Am Not Saving Enough Money
Being afraid that we are not saving enough or that we should be saving more is common.
When we are afraid that we aren’t saving enough, every spending decision is overanalyzed and we become afraid to spend money on anything that isn’t essential.
Tools to Ease Your Fear Of Spending Money
Now that you have some ideas for why you are anxious when you spend money, let’s look at how you can work to ease those fears.
Create a Budget and Use it as Your Guide
A budget is simply a plan that lays out all of your spending and savings goals.
And, like with many things in life, when you have a plan things tend to be less stressful.
When you create a budget, you are deciding what things are important to you to spend money on.
Therefore when you have a budget and you feel fear of spending money creep up, you can take a deep breath, and pull out your budget to ease your fear.
Does the expense fit in your budget? If so, you can quiet your fear and make the purchase.
If the expense doesn’t fit into your budget, then you can still ease your fear.
Think about it this way: rather than not spending money out of fear, you are actively choosing not to spend the money.
Making this choice is powerful. It put you in control.
And when you are in control, then you know your fear did its job.
Your fear tapped you on the shoulder. And it pushed you to take control of your money, regardless of whether the decision was to spend the money or not.
A budget is the knowledge that can help you tackle those limiting beliefs, give you financial confidence, and ease the fear that tells you you can’t spend money.
Know Your “Why”
Knowing your “why” means having a vision for what you want your life, both current and future, to look like.
Do you want to be debt-free? Do you want to own a home? Do you want to go on a vacation? Do you want to support local businesses?
When you have a concrete vision of what you want your life to look and feel like, you can let it guide your financial decisions, instead of letting your limiting beliefs take over.
After establishing your “why”, you will have the confidence to splurge without the fear of reverting to your old mindless spending ways. Because with your vision, you will be motivated to stay on track.
Your “why” is the thing you can constantly come back to in order to help you work through those limiting beliefs.
You are making spending decisions that align with how you want your life to look and feel. And this will ease your fear of spending money.
Create an Emergency Fund
With an emergency fund, you can rest easy knowing you can survive a financial hiccup.
This, in turn, will help you ease your fear of spending money.
Because when you make a spending decision, you don’t have to be concerned with whether your decision is going to cause financial stress if an emergency pops up. Your emergency fund has you covered.
If you don’t have an emergency fund, start with trying to save $1000 and then work your way up to 3-6 months of basic living expenses.
Once you have an emergency fund and feel the security it provides, you’ll never want to go back to life without an emergency fund.
- Why I Didn’t Have an Emergency Fund Until I was 39 (and why I don’t want you to make the same mistake)
Use Sinking Funds for Upcoming Expenses and Big Purchases
Sinking funds are one of my favorite tools in personal finance.
We all have upcoming big purchases and expenses like a new car, insurance payments, computer, or phone. And what a sinking fund does is it helps you stash a bit away each month to help you pay for that expense once it arises.
For example, I pay my $1600 home/car insurance premium annually. To help me prepare for that expenses, I stash about $130 into a savings account each month. That way in December when my bill is due, I don’t have to stress about figuring out how to pay for this large non-monthly expense.
Sinking funds are a way for you to plan for all of your expenses, not just the ones you have to pay each month.
And when you plan for all of your expenses, you can ease your fear of spending money because you know that your future expenses are already accounted for.
- Sinking Funds: Why You Need them and How to Get Started
- How to Stay Cool, Calm, and Collected When Making a Big Purchase
Practice Mindful Spending
Mindful spending is having an awareness of our emotions and what is important to us. And then using that knowledge to guide our spending decisions.
When you are about to make a purchase take the time to sit back and ask yourself how this purchase fits in with your budget and why it’s important to you?
Taking a few moments (or a few days) to sit on a purchase can help you gain clarity on whether or not the purchase is right for you at this moment.
Oftentimes I find myself on an emotional spending spree and taking a moment to think about (be mindful) of why I want to spend this money helps me either say “no” or eases my fear.
You Got This
Being afraid to spend money is something all of us deal with on occasion.
And although it’s not fun when it happens, we can use it as our teacher.
This fear that we feel exposes our limiting beliefs and asks us to work through them.
And with the tools above you can start working through those limiting beliefs and start feeling more confident in your money decisions.
So get after it.
Start with creating that budget, funding an emergency fund, or stashing cash away into some sinking funds.
Take one step at a time and you will start to feel that fear come around less and less.