anxiety about spending money

How to Stop Anxiety About Spending Money

Are you a saver or a spender? Whilst we are constantly hearing in the press about people who have overspent we hear much less about those who are afraid about spending their hard-earned cash. If you are exceptionally frugal with your cash and worry about spending even though you have enough you may need help to learn how to stop anxiety about spending money.

Irrational Financial Anxiety

Learning how to stop anxiety about spending money will, of course, depend on how wealthy you are. Clearly, if you have very little money and are at risk of losing your home or job then it would be perfectly natural to experience some anxiety about money. In this article, however, we want to talk about people that we might see you have irrational financial anxiety even though they have plenty of money.

This means they have a low mortgage or even own their house, they have plenty of savings, have a steady regular income and money to spare to spend on whatever they like. Yet no matter how much they have in the bank it is never quite enough to stop them worrying about spending their money or losing it all.

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Money Hoarding Disorder

The reality is that if you hoard money even when you have plenty it is possible that you might be experiencing a form of mental health or anxiety problem. It makes sense to have money saved for a rainy day or unexpected expenses both now and in the future but when you are clinging on to every dollar as if your life depends on it you may need additional help.

So how you can you tell where the line is drawn? Here are some indicators that might give you some clues about whether you may need help or not.

  • Do you worry about spending your cash on relatively trivial items rather than big money purchases?
  • Do you find it almost an impossibility to make a decision when it comes to making a financial investment or reasonably sized purchase?
  • Do you track every penny you own on spreadsheets and know exactly what you have down to the last cent?
  • Do you question your family members when they ask you for money for a good reason?
  • Do you fear losing all your money and envisage a catastrophe taking it all away from you?
  • Do you hoard physical cash because you are suspicious of banks?

If this sounds like you then your anxiety about spending money may be out of control and causing your fear, worry and even mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.

anxiety about spending money

Fear of Spending Money Disorder

If you are hoarding money or have a fear of spending your cash to the detriment of yourself and your family then you may need help to overcome the unhelpful and irrational thoughts. Just like hoarders who accumulate too many belongings, there is usually a psychological problem or issue behind their stories.

So why might you have anxiety about spending money? Well as therapists we know that there are usually incredibly rational reasons behind irrational behaviour. The key to resolving the problem is to work out what the underlying causes are so that the deep-rooted fears and worries can be addressed. Here are some reasons why people have worries about spending their money.

Parents and Money Anxiety

If you were brought up in a household where your parents always emphasised being frugal, making do and mending and conserving every penny then it would be likely that you would also pick up on this as well. We copy behaviours that we learn from our parents and bring them into adulthood with us.

Childhood Poverty and Financial Stress

Being poor in childhood would also create a sense of insecurity and worry for a child. Some of our clients got used to going to bed hungry at night as children. Their parents may not have been able to pay the bills so utilities may have been cut off and they may have been picked on at school for being different. These fears stay with you and as you grow up and earn your own money it becomes easy to see why you might have a big fear of something similar happening again.

Fear of Uncertainty

Part of the worries about money can simply lie in thoughts about uncertainty. If we have experienced moments in our life when things have happened out of the blue your mind starts to worry that the same thing may happen again. There is a worry that everything you own could be just as easily taken away from you so you do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again.

Past Financial Mistakes

If you have made mistakes in the past with your finances it is possible that you may worry about doing something similar again. As an example perhaps you invested in something and it didn’t work out for you causing you to lose more money than you could afford at that time.

Money Anxiety Disorder

Money anxiety disorder is a very big problem for some people as it not only creates fear and worries for themselves but it can also impact others as well. If you have a partner who hoards money and comes across as a miser then it is going to take its toll on your relationship.

We don’t only see people with anxiety about spending money but also members of their family who have had enough of the problem. They are fed up being questioned about their grocery shop spending or the amount they have spent on household expenses. The tension can be significant enough for some people to break up with their partner.

Therapy is a great way of talking about financial stress and resolving unhelpful thought parters that are wasting unnecessary energy.

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Self-Help to Tackle Anxiety About Spending

Before using therapy as a way of resolving your problem there are some self-help methods you can use to stop anxiety about spending money.

Lower Stress – When we feel anxious we don’t make rational decisions. Try and find ways to relax and destress so that you can start looking at your financial situation without emotion.

Take a Step Back – Look at your financial situation from a different perspective. Rationalise and think about your finances and work out what you need to live on and what you have spare. Work out how long that money would last you if something went wrong. If you know that there is no immediate problem it can help to calm you down.

Have Different Accounts – As your money comes in split it between your accounts. You can put some towards day to day living expenses which will cover your basic outgoings. Then put another portion of your money into savings which can be used for a rainy day. Finally, allocate a certain amount to spending and experiencing joy.

Make Small Changes – If you have plenty of money but still have the fear don’t go out and splurge a large amount on something silly. Instead, start to treat yourself to smaller luxuries that make you happy. This will get you used to the idea of spending on yourself and your family.

Find and Address the Root Cause – Explore the underlying reasons for your problem with therapy. This can help you to tackle and deep-seated worries that you cannot work on with self-help methods.

anxiety about spending money

Therapy for Anxiety About Spending Money

Therapy is a great tool for helping you to talk about what is on your mind and guiding you to change unhelpful thought patterns or behaviours. The key to resolving the problem is lowering the anxiety and stress response in addition to tackling the underlying thought patterns that underpin the money hoarding.

We give our clients the tools and strategies to change their thought patterns into something more helpful. This is usually done through therapy to find out that is causing the real problem. Money anxiety disorder is usually just a symptom of something else. It offers feelings of security or certainty that our clients feel they are not getting elsewhere in their life. Finding the underlying thought patterns can go a long way in resolving the situation.

Remember just because you have stacks of money in the bank does not mean that your mental health is ok. Anxiety can be caused by worrying about spending money just as much as it can about not having enough of it.

If you would like some expert help to manage your anxieties around money then contact us for more information about our therapy programs which may be able to help.

Read More About Anxiety and Stress

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The Best Anxiety Self-Help Books to Aid Recovery

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Martina McKeough
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How to Stop Anxiety About Spending Money
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How to Stop Anxiety About Spending Money
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Learn about money anxiety disorder and how to change your worries and fears about money.
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Rewire The Mind
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