4 Reasons Why You Should Tell Others About Your Financial Anxiety

Welcome to my world. (Doh!)

At 1am, my husband is often awakened by a soft light glowing from my side of the bed.

He peers over my (supple, sexy) shoulder– okay, maybe not– and asks, “Are you making calculations again?”

He asks this because (as mentioned in this unfortunate post), I have so much financial anxiety that it drives me to punch numbers into my calculator at night, over and over again, hoping that our finances will look different each time. They never do, of course. But it never stops me from making calculations until I drift off to sleep.

But here’s the crazy part: I confessed my obsessive compulsive sins to a friend…and she admitted that she does the same exact thing!

Apparently, there are others out there who– although not necessarily homeless, starving, or on the run from the IRS– are crippled by financial worry.

But it doesn’t end there. Just last week, before a different friend of mine proceeded tell me about her particular financial woes, she prefaced it by saying “I don’t know why I always feel compelled to tell people this, but…”

Which leads me to believe that people want need to discuss their financial anxieties with (trusted, non-judgmental) loved ones. Conversations need to be happening, but they’re not.

Behind closed doors, people are struggling all alone with their deepest financial fears. And Filipino blogging therapists are punching numbers into their calculators all night long. This has got to stop!

Conventional wisdom tells us that we’re not supposed to discuss our financial problems with others. And honestly, I get it. No one wants to seem broke, or irresponsible with their money, or emotionally vulnerable. We also avoid these conversations because it’s uncomfortable to know that we make way less (or way more) than somebody we love, or that we’ve got much more debt.

But I’m not asking you to tell people exact numbers. I’m saying that we’ve got to open up to each other about how managing those numbers makes us feel.

Here are four huge benefits to doing so:

  1. There’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
  2. Venting can take some weight off our shoulders.
  3. You gain perspective on your situation when you have other real-life financial pictures to compare it to.
  4. You can share and receive helpful tips for managing your anxiety.

Number 4 is a biggie. In fact, just today I got an excellent tip from a dear friend (the woman with my same freaky calculator addiction). And now I’m going to share her advice with you because I liked it so much, and because I also like you:

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I tell myself that I still don’t know where the chips are going to fall. We assume the worst about the future because we’re at a low point. All we know is that our situation feels like torture. But we can’t see the big picture– we don’t know the whole story yet. So I’ve just got to keep moving forward and trust that I’ll eventually discover the purpose behind these circumstances.

Final Thoughts

It’s not the money that makes us completely mad. Rather, it’s the not knowing what will happen, or when, or why. But if we’re growing despite not knowing (See how I rhymed there? I rule!), I think we can make it through life feeling happy and complete, even as our wallets swell and shrink.

So let’s find Peace. Together. Reach out to others– for your own benefit and for theirs. It starts with a conversation.

Your Turn: Have you ever benefited from discussing financial anxiety with a loved one? What helpful tips can you share for managing this type of anxiety?



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7 Responses to 4 Reasons Why You Should Tell Others About Your Financial Anxiety

  1. neuropeptide3 says:

    Hi Kimberley,
    I recognise this. I don’t go to sleep with a calculator in my hand because it is in my head and I don’t sleep. Short circuited that one. I try to remind myself today I’m ok, we’re ok. I shouldn’t worry and I know that I don’t have a right to worry. Not easy in these days of financial turmoil. You have conquered your debt and you’ve given yourself that life experience of Australia. You aren’t the richest person on the planet and hell, it hurts me when I see my paycheck today compared to what it was but I had to get out of the trap. In this I agree with Adriane who sounds like she’s striking out to find her place in the world after years in the cage. It isn’t so easy to shake off the accumulated psychological messages from around us and concentrate on what really matters. Stop beating yourself up. You’re alive and you’ve got a great little blog going.

    I just try to keep remembering that there is a meteorite with my name on it somewhere out there in the universe and who knows when it will land on my head. So put that calculator down and do something more useful!

    • Kimberly says:

      Thanks, Neuropeptide. You bring up so many great points. You also make me realize that my past credit card debt has ingrained pretty awful psychological messages into my brain, and I listen to them even though they’re no longer appropriate. Apparently, this is a common phenomenon; I’ve heard a few wealthy celebrities (Tyler Perry being one of them, I think) who are filled with fear and worry about not having enough because they started out in poverty and can’t shake the “poor man’s mentality”. And then there are those who have gotten healthy by losing a ton of weight yet still feel terrible about their bodies. Gotta step back, gain perspective, be thankful, and do something else with my time, like you said!

      • neuropeptide3 says:

        you CONQUERED that debt. That tells me, a total stranger on the other side of the planet, that you have discipline when needed and can achieve tangible goals. Sure you have to keep an eye on the bank and if you can’t stop thinking about it maybe set aside a defined time in the week when you check up. Just half an hour and keep it to that. You have a roof, the love of a family and from what I read on your blog, you have some projects in counselling that you are getting off the ground. Bring the discipline and focus to the areas you want to grow.

        Now to follow what I’ve just written myself….!

  2. Your one and only FIL says:

    I am so not obsessive/compulsive it sucks although the result is a minimum of anxiety. So I am willing to talk to you and Brian about finances but only you.. Clearly you are obsessive/compulsive enough for all of us. And if I should wake up very early one morning and find myself crunching numbers, it is nice to know I can call you knowing I won’t be waking you.

    Your Fave FIL

    • Kimberly says:

      Interestingly, I have NEVER been OCD with finances before– it only began once we started aggressively paying off the 28k in credit card debt. I used to be waaaay too relaxed about spending. (Obviously. $28k?!) I’m grateful for my wake-up call, but now I’m just having trouble finding a balance. Also, the whole concept of this next phase of adulthood –being financially responsible for a group of people– is new to me. I’m adjusting. Clearly not fast enough!

  3. Adriane says:

    At the end of Jan I will be starting a 9 week financial course (Financial Peace University) through my church. It requires small group discussion in which I anticipate sharing my major financial anxieties. I have shared these kinds of thoughts with others in the past but never with a solution so I’m hoping that this will be the beginning of positive change.
    Now that my income is solely based on my practice and I no longer have a steady pay check coming in from any other job (I recently resigned from my previous employment) I have more anxiety than ever, although it’s somehow paradoxically mixed with this strange underlying contentment. But I too was up last night crunching numbers on my cell phone’s calculator! I’m hoping to get a better handle on all of this in the upcoming weeks :)

    • Kimberly says:

      That’s wonderful, Adriane! Congratulations on the launch of your private practice. (YAY!!) It sure takes guts to strike out on your own despite financial uncertainty.

      We’ve got some overlap in our situations, as you know. It seems a little like there is a trade-off between Peace in one’s life (Are you doing what you are called to do?) vs. Peace of mind (Does everything feel safe?). For me– and for you, it seems– the former is way more crucial. As for the latter, I don’t think things need to be safe before striking out on your own, but there’s got to be a way to make the risk-taking process more emotionally manageable. It helps to have practical solutions too, and I’m glad you’ll soon have access to those. But I’ve found that even with practical solutions, the anxiety is still there! Which tells me my problem is anxiety, not money! Lol.

      I hope the financial course is all you need it to be. Please keep us updated on how that goes!

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