Managing money and anxiety are two difficult tasks – made even more difficult when combined. We start out balancing books, and end up needing to balance our brain. How can we responsibly manage our personal finances, without the crippling anxiety that can come with it?
Balancing the money side of things is sometimes easier than the anxiety part. It involves some simple basics like budgeting and prioritizing.
Managing the anxiety is like managing any relationship, and involves a deep mindful approach.
Mixing them together is like setting sail on the ocean. We can’t determine the wind, but we can remain focused on our direction and use tools at our disposal to let the wind guide us.
The first basic rule of finances is to have a budget… In some form or fashion, a budget needs to be developed so you can have a birds eye view of your financial situation. Some finance ‘fixes’ like to step away from the word budget, but in the end that’s what they create.
In the simplest terms, a budget is a place for you to list out your income and expenses. At the very least, finding out how much money a month you make and how much money you spend.
Knowing those totals alone is the first step to financial empowerment.
When you know how much money you make, and how much you need to spend – you then can start trying to plan where the money will come from for each expense. This is a fantastic branching off point to nail down your financial priorities.
Figuring out financial priorities is a huge step in calming some of the anxiety. It allows you to start dream-lining, and getting a clearer picture of where you are heading. Currently, my financial priority is clearing out old debts to allow more freedom in my financials. The debts range in scale, but there are some hanging around that are an active issue (i.e. Working against my efforts to save).
Priorities can evolve and change, but having a clear goal in mind makes the process easier. By focusing on a specific goal, or even a specific debt takes the gravitas away from the enemy. Taking the mountainous piles of debts, and creating a step by step achievement guide to get you moving. A step by step process is helpful in any situation veiled in anxiety. Especially when applied to managing money and anxiety.
How Do I Determine the Priority?
Nobody can determine your financial priorities except for you. If you can’t determine it, there are more questions you can ask yourself.
- Where do I want to be in 2 years?
- What is stopping me from getting there?
- What is my smallest debt?
The most effective way to make my priorities clearer is thinking in terms of 2 year plans. Right now, my 2 year plan involves a move (Yes. Another One…) – probably into another rental unit. I am not in a position for buying a home right away, but we are outgrowing our current space.
What is stopping me from being able to move in this time – window? The biggest thing stopping me is a nagging credit card bill. The ghost of Christmas past reaching out every month and adding a hiccup to my financial breath. I have to clear this once specifically before anything else can be tackled.
If these questions still draw unwanted anxiety – start with the smallest debt, and work up. Progress is progress.
The way we treat ourselves during these difficult responsibilities is paramount to our success. I touched on it in my article on Waking Up Early Every Day – but I have to be kind to myself during this process.
I can very quickly discuss finances in terms of doom and gloom. One plan doesn’t work, and suddenly I’m cardboard box shopping.
I have to recognize that this is a tough process, and that by giving it any headspace I am improving. I also have to recognize when other factors in life make it difficult. If I have an extremely hard day at work, and I am stressed out the wazoo – probably not a great night to look over the budget again.
Staying in touch with our emotions, and mental capacity is an added bonus in any task. Especially one with as much weight as personal finance.
While keeping the relationship with ourselves healthy, we also have to keep a healthy relationship with money. Our intentions must remain the same. If we look at mere dollar amounts forever, it turns everything into dollar amounts. Turning our lives into pricey receipts is the wrong way to approach managing money and anxiety.
Bigger bank accounts is not the end goal. The end goal of personal finance is Stability, Security and Synchronicity with our lifestyle.
Thanks for Reading.
– Anthony McGuigan from InTakeCreate xx
InTakeCreate is a celebration of Life and Creativity through the lens of Mental Health. Allowing creativity to influence every facet of life can propel us to healthier mindsets. Here we can explore it all, and celebrate the creative energy flowing through us all.
Creativity is the Through-line of Life.
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