Maybe, like me, you can’t spend money without feeling anxious. Maybe you’re worried about running out of money and losing everything. What if you become homeless, or have to live in your car? What if you can’t pay for your medications, your kids’ school supplies and clothes, your pet’s food and treats?
Money anxiety affects people in a variety of ways — and it’s not always obvious. Some people (like me) clutch every dime, quarter, and dollar bill. Others closely monitor their bank accounts and investments, double check every grocery store receipt, and even steal sugar or Splenda packets from restaurants and coffee shops (I’m looking at you, Laurie).
If you feel anxious about spending money, you’re not living in abundance. I know what it feels like. I’ve been struggling with a “scarcity mindset” all my life, and I’m tired of it! I’m sick of living in fear of running out of money. I’m tired of feeling anxiety and actual physical pain every time I buy something. I want to overcome money anxiety — and the good news is I found a way! Four ways, to be exact.
Aren’t you tired of feeling anxious about spending money? You must be. You’re here, looking for ways to enjoy your money, your life, the gifts and blessings God has given you. You want to learn how to live in abundance, how to deal with your money anxiety once and for all. Good news! I’m tired of living with a scarcity mindset, too…and I’ve figured out four ways to stop feeling so anxious about spending money.
4 Ways to Stop Feeling Anxious About Spending Money
These tips are inspired by my own experience with money anxiety. I’m almost 50 years old, and have lived in scarcity and fear my whole life. After FIFTY years you’d think I’d know better! After all, I have a strong personal relationship with God and follow Jesus. I listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance every day.
And yet, I have to fight my anxious feelings. Every time I spend a little money I feel physical pain. I’ve learned how to cope with my fear of running out of money, but I’m still learning how to stop feeling anxious when I buy something.
Are you still with me? Good! These four questions will help us live in abundance:
- Why do I feel anxious about spending money?
- What do I need to remember when “money anxiety” arises?
- When will I stop feeling anxious about my finances?
- How do I live with a mindset of abundance and generosity?
I’ll answer these questions below. When you see my answers — and when you think about your own experiences with money — you may be one step closer to living without money anxiety.
1. Why do I feel anxious about spending money?
I don’t know where your money anxiety stems from, but I recently learned why spending stresses me out. I asked myself, “What’s the first memory you have about spending money? What do you remember about learning how much things cost, how to calculate the value of something you want to buy, how to know if you should buy it?”
My first memory of spending money was with my grandma in a restaurant in Hawaii. Waikiki. After the waiter took our order and walked away, my grandma said, “Why do you always order the most expensive thing on the menu?” I immediately felt terrible. I suddenly realized that food costs money, my grandma didn’t make a lot of money, and she was treating me to this big trip to Hawaii. And ever since then I’ve felt anxious about spending money — even though I have more than enough money in my bank account.
2. What do I need to remember when “money anxiety” arises?
When I feel anxious about spending money, I remind myself that my feelings aren’t based on fact. My anxiety is caused by something that happened almost 40 years ago. I’m giving it — a memory, an experience — more power than it deserves. Instead of letting myself be overwhelmed by money anxiety and physical pain when I spend money, I remember the root cause.
It helps to remember how my money anxiety started. To be honest, though, it’s not enough. Simply knowing the root cause of my anxiety hasn’t stopped me from feeling so bad about spending money. I’ve been struggling with this problem and living in a scarcity mindset for too long. I can’t do this alone; I’ll fail because my money fears and anxieties are too deeply rooted. I want to live in abundance, but I can’t just create feelings of abundance by myself. The roots of scarcity are too deep.
3. When will I stop feeling anxious about my finances?
Part of the problem is that my money anxieties actually serve a purpose. Being scared to spend too much helped me pay for three university degrees, travel around the world, buy a beautiful home, and create a financial cushion for the future. I’ve also learned how to protect myself financially (leading me to write I wrote How to Say No When Someone Asks to Borrow Money). Not only are my money anxieties deeply rooted, they also serve a purpose.
If I can’t overcome money anxiety by myself, how can I live in abundance? You might be asking yourself the same thing. “How do I overcome my fear of spending money?”
4. How do I live with a mindset of abundance and generosity?
To overcome your anxiety about spending money, you have to stop trying and struggling and fighting. Trust me. I fought my money fears for almost 50 years, and it never worked. I’m finally learning that the real root problem isn’t that my grandma told me I always ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. The real root problem is that I’m relying on money to be my security blanket. I think having money in the bank will protect me from homelessness, poverty, and shame. I grew up in poverty, I felt ashamed and embarrassed because we had no money.
I can’t overcome my money anxiety by building a bigger bank account. No matter how much money I have, it’ll never be enough to stop me from feeling physical pain when I buy something new. I need something more powerful than me — and bigger than any bank account in the world! I don’t need to be a billionaire; I need to know the depth, width, and breadth of the love of Jesus. I need to rest in my identity as a child of God.
My money anxiety is caused by the belief that money will keep me safe and secure. This is not true. Money brings luxury and comfort, food and shelter…but the only true, everlasting source of safety and security is a personal relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. When I remind myself that I don’t worship money and I can’t trust money to do anything but buy me a nice pineapple, I remember my true identity as a child of God. And my anxiety lifts, leaving me to spend money with a sense of gratitude, abundance, and generosity.
What about you? Why do you feel anxious about spending money, and how will you overcome your money anxiety? Your big and little comments are welcome below!
In peace and passion,
P.S. Do you feel anxious about spending money because you’re not earning enough? Read Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me! Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.