If you’re a single, divorced, or widowed woman, you may often find yourself worrying about running out of money. It’s even scarier if you have dependent children, aging parents, health problems, a low income job, or small retirement income.
All of my childhood and much of my adult life was filled with fear and worry about running out of money. I grew up living on social assistance (welfare), going to the food bank for groceries, and eating ketchup-and-mustard sandwiches. My mom struggled with schizophrenia my whole life, and I was in and out of foster homes.
For some people—especially women who are caring for elderly parents, coping with financial problems, and worrying about the global economy as well as their own personal retirement—it seems impossible to know where to start overcoming fear of not having enough money. Good news! My tips for women who are worried about running out of money are both practical and inspirational.
The most important practical fear-fighting tip I learned was from author and life coach Martha Beck in Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. In that book she described how she counseled a wealthy, smart, financially independent woman with a solid six-figure job. This woman was terrified she’d run out of money even though she had literally millions of dollars in the bank, a permanent work contract, and a solid retirement savings plan.
And yet this woman lived in fear. She was so worried she’d run out of money that she couldn’t enjoy anything about her life. Martha told her about volunteering with homeless drug addicted women who managed to earn over $100,000 per year to feed their addiction. These women weren’t educated, healthy, or skilled. They didn’t have permanent home addresses, much less jobs or retirement savings.
Even so, these homeless drug addicted women made/found/begged/borrowed/stole more than enough money to take care of their needs. They didn’t worry about running out of money! They just did what they needed to do to survive.
If they succeeded, so can you.
When You’re Worried About Running Out of Money
Martha Beck’s tip on how to survive when you have no money is a good practical fear-fighting tip for women. My tips are inspired by my reading of Exodus 16 and my relationship with God.
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. I started with Genesis — beginning with The Reason You Were Created – Genesis 1 and ended that series with How to Live Like You Really Are Forgiven and Free – Genesis 50. Enter Exodus!
1. Know that your fears are natural — and unnecessary
In Exodus 16 we learn how the Israelites started complaining and grumbling against God a few days after He brought them out of Egypt. God brought them through hard times; in Exodus 15 the Israelites were singing and dancing praises to Yahweh! But then fear, worry, and anxiety set in. They weren’t worried about running out of money. They were worried about running out of manna, which was their daily bread. But even before they started worrying about running out of manna, they were complaining and grumbling about their lives. The Israelites forgot to remember what the Lord had done for them. They focused on what they lacked, feared, wanted, and lost. And everyone suffered because of their stubborn “nothing is good enough” attitudes…except for satan.
Remember that fear and negativity sticks like superglue. In 3 Ways to Make Peace With Yourself – Blossom Tip 75 I describe how easy it is to see positive images or remember happy times, and forget them a few seconds later. Negative thoughts and fears, such as being worried you’ll run out of money, stick to us like superglue. We obsess and chew on those fears and anxieties until they lodge in our minds, hearts, and souls. And then we wonder why we aren’t happy! Listen, it’s normal and natural to worry that you’ll run out of money — especially if you’re a single, divorced or widowed woman responsible for children, elderly parents, or financial issues. Humans seem wired to worry, fear, fret and grumble. You may have real (or imagined) reasons to worry about running out of money, but you don’t have to feed your fears.
2. Practice curiosity about your financial future — not worry or fear
“When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, “What is it?” because they didn’t know what it was. Moses told them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.” – Exodus 16:15. Guess who got to name the daily bread they ate in the Wilderness of Sin for 40 years? The Israelites. Guess what they called it? Manna, which literally means “what is it?” in Hebrew. The Israelites were curious about God’s provision of daily bread for a few seconds. Then they named it manna, put quail on top of it (another provision of God), and started complaining again.
How often do you practice being worried that you’ll run out of money? You’re searching for tips on how to stop worrying about running out of money, so you’re probably a “worry warrior”! Hmmm. How does that label feel? Do you like it? Is it true? Would you rather be known as someone other than a woman who practiced worrying about running out of money so much that it was engraved on her tombstone? When you find yourself practicing worrying about not having enough money, try being curious about how God will provide for you. Pick up your Bible; learn how He cares for the sparrows and lilies. Be curious about how God takes care of His children. Learn what He sent His son Jesus to do for you. Practice curiosity about how God will meet your needs today. Practice letting tomorrow take care of itself.
3. Participate with God by trusting and taking action
Exodus 16 — and all of the Bible, really — describes how God works alongside His people. He created us to act, move, participate, grow and interact with the world around us. The Hebrews in Exodus had to gather their bread (manna) every day, and to rest on the seventh day. The Hebrews were to work and trust, rest and trust, worship and trust, live and trust, participate and trust. God gave the Israelites Moses as their leader, and also asked the Israelites to take action in specific ways. He wanted a relationship with His people; a relationship always requires both parties to respond, act, and trust each other.
How are you participating with God by trusting and taking action? I love that God wants us to act and trust Him! He didn’t create us to be robots who blindly follow all the rules and don’t have to think, choose, be curious, create or participate. Jesus, too, required trust and action. “Come, follow me,” He said. “Come and see,” He said. Jesus never promised our lives would be easy or sanitized from all dangers, toils and troubles…but He did promise He’d carry our burdens and lead the way if we let Him.
I understand how scary it is to worry about running out of money. I know what’ it’s like to sleep in a cardboard box in the back alley of a big city. I felt the shame and humiliation of going to the welfare office and asking for money for groceries. I’m not good at saving for retirement or planning my financial future, but I know enough about money management to ensure I have enough for now. And now is all I have, all I need, and all I want.
What does it mean to “trust and take action” in your life — especially when you’re worried about running out of money?
If you’re struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life, read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.