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Dealing With Financial Anxiety

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Financial Anxiety Update

In the introduction post I wrote a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to start therapy to try to work through my financial anxiety. I thought I had overcome my financial anxiety after a previous round of therapy I did a few years ago. But this period of high inflation and economic uncertainty has caused my money worries to come back.

Background On My Financial Anxiety

To help anyone who might be going through the same thing feel less alone, I thought I’d share a bit more about my struggles. I worry far too much about “what if” scenarios like losing my freelance writing clients and not being able to pay my bills. In reality I have emergency savings and a partner with a stable job, so that’s unlikely to happen. But if you’ve ever had financial anxiety, you know money worries aren’t always rational and can be hard to shake!

You would think reminding myself that I have emergency savings would make me feel more secure. But I still feel this sense of financial precarity no matter how much money is in my savings account. I also struggle with feeling like I’m “behind” financially. I think I feel a lot of pressure to succeed financially in part because I’m a personal finance writer.

I’d feel like a hypocrite if I made financial mistakes in my personal life and continued writing articles advising others on how to improve their money situation. So I always strive to optimize my finances. I spend a lot of time making plans that will allow me to spend less and save more.

But at a certain point, you can’t be any more frugal without making yourself miserable. My therapist has reminded me that life is meant to be enjoyed. He’s encouraged me to spend money on fun without feeling guilty like I usually do. So I’m trying to embrace a more relaxed approach to my finances.

Where Do These Worries Come From?

My therapist and I have also spent some time digging into the root causes of my financial anxiety, which is helping me work through it. One of the potential contributors to my anxiety is the way my parents spent money during my childhood. My dad is a salesman and earned multiple six figures throughout his career. But my parents still lived paycheck to paycheck because of bad spending habits.

Watching my dad struggle to pay the mortgage while earning a high salary has made me feel like I’ll never have enough money. If he wasn’t financially stable on a high salary, then how will I ever be secure on a much more modest income? Because my parents almost lost their house and got buried in credit card debt during the Great Recession, I’ve also become very debt-averse. I don’t even like having a mortgage balance, so I’ve been trying to pay off my home early for peace of mind.

Again, these feelings aren’t totally rational. Logically I know the reason why my parents racked up debt and don’t have savings is because they mismanaged their money. But I can’t stop my anxious lizard brain from worrying that I’ll end up in a bad financial spot just like they are.

FIRE and Extreme Frugality

To make sure I don’t follow in my dad’s financial footsteps, I think I’ve overcorrected and become too frugal. I discovered the FIRE movement in my teens, which inspired me to become a personal finance writer shaped the way I view and approach money as an adult.

The FIRE movement advocates saving and investing a huge chunk of your income so you can become financially independent and retire early. But if you’re not a high-earner, it can be hard to save 40% to 75% of your income like some FIRE adherents do.

Trying and failing to meet aggressive financial goals has only contributed to my anxiety and feelings that I’ll never have enough money. So I’m trying to keep a bit of distance from the online FIRE community for now while I work on my financial anxiety. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to revisit the idea of FIRE in the future when my income grows.

Therapy Works!

Therapy has helped me a lot so far. Digging into the causes of my money worries is helping me overcome them and avoid triggers like reading FIRE forums. My therapist has encouraged me to be gentler with myself and take a more relaxed approach to my finances. I’m already starting to notice a change in my mood. My partner agrees that I seem calmer and happier since starting therapy. I’m looking forward to continuing the process and seeing how much my financial outlook improves in the coming months.

Have you ever dealt with financial anxiety? If so, did you make any lifestyle changes that helped relieve your money worries? I’d love it if you’d share your experiences and tips in the comments section below!

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Hello, old friend(s)!

Why I Want To Pay Off My Mortgage Early

Here’s Why I Haven’t Paid Off Much Debt This Year

Hello, old friend(s)!

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Hi, BAD readers! I’m baaaaaaaaack!

For long-time readers, you may remember me. I started blogging here in February 2014, at which time I had nearly $150,000 in debt!

I blogged for about 4-years, during which time I cut my debt in half (boom!) I was very hopeful to be totally debt-free* by now (*except the mortgage). But, of course, life happens.

Best Laid Plans…

Smash/cut, my husband and life-partner of 16 years and I called it quits and got divorced in 2018. I tried to keep blogging for a hot minute during our separation and divorce proceedings, but ultimately I had to let blogging go for that season of time.

What has happened since? Well, a lot of life! Both good and bad.

Financial happenings

From a financial perspective, I’ve had to shell out a lot more money on lawyer fees than I care to imagine. Not just with the initial divorce, but with other family court proceedings since then. I won’t be talking much about this due to personal reasons, but I think it’s important for a debt-reduction blog to know that a lot of money has been dedicated to “legal fees” for one reason or another over the past few years.

I’ve also had a slew of health-related issues arise post-divorce. I was still blogging when the first such health concerns arose (e.g., I had a bad case of kidney stones that lead to severe infection and sepsis back in March 2019). Ultimately, I’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney stones, which have damaged my kidneys, leading to a diagnosis of kidney disease. At the ripe old age of 38, y’all. Can’t make this stuff up. All of these medical issues obviously have financial implications.

On the positive side, I continue to thrive at work and have had a series of raises over the past few years. I feel extremely well compensated for what I do and I live in an area that has a relatively low cost of living. I also love what I do and find much fulfillment in it and a great work-life balance, so I’m truly blessed in this regard.

Life happenings

More on the personal front, I’m happy to report that I’ve found love again! My hubby and I are still in our newlywed phase. We got married during the pandemic in a tiny elopement-style outdoor wedding. The only people present were the chaplain, a friend who does photography as a hobby, and two witnesses. Plus us and my girls, of course. It was lovely and perfect in every way.

There’ve still been some tough things over the years – I’m sad to say that I’ve experienced a lot of death in our family. Some expected (e.g., my 92-year-old grandma passed peacefully in March of this year), others much more unexpected and tragic (e.g., my 39-year-old brother passed away almost exactly a year ago). These experiences have lead to additional travel costs, but have also changed, to some extent, the way I view money. When I was initially blogging back in 2014, I thought I’d be out of debt by now. I thought I could put lots of “LIFE” stuff on hold until then. Now, I’m craving much more balance. Life has shown me through a series of events that time is not promised. We can’t always count our time in years, and no one’s future is certain.

Future blogging schedule

I probably won’t be blogging with the same frequency that I used to back in 2014. But I’m so excited to be back and plan to pop in at least once every couple of weeks. I wanted to start with a general “what-I’ve-been-up-to” post, but I look forward to sharing more of the details of my current debt situation. No, I’m not debt-free. But I’m very hopeful about where I’m at and I feel good about the future. I’m happy to be back on this journey and look forward to your advice and support as I work toward that final “Debt Freedom” label!

What is your debt philosophy? Are you single-minded toward debt-freedom or looking for more balance between debt-reduction and still living life? Why?

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