I was recently diagnosed with anxiety, which means I’ve been worrying about things…a lot.
Luckily, I was able to get access to help through my university, and things are getting better. Through counseling, I was able to realize that one of the things triggering my anxiety is money. While my mind knows that money is an amoral thing (meaning it’s not inherently good or bad), my heart feels like money is the one thing that could cause everything to come crumbling down.
So, in an effort to take better care of my mental health, I’ve been listing all of the money things worrying me so I can honestly tell myself if I should be actually worried or not. Hopefully, if you struggle with money-based anxiety like me, these reflections will help give you some peace.
1. “I need to invest my money RIGHT THIS SECOND.”
I’m new to this whole personal finance game, so I’m just trying to wrap my head around all of the advice I’m hearing. The number one tip that I’m hearing from people is “Invest now so you can benefit from compound interest.” Now when people tell me this, I know they’re just telling me to start early. What my anxiety hears, though, is that if I don’t invest my money TODAY, I’m financially screwed.
Is this true? God, no! So why am I worried? I’ve been thinking a lot about opportunity costs lately. Here, the opportunity cost of taking my time to invest is losing out on some compound interest. The reason I shouldn’t be worried, though, is that I’m taking my time to learn about investing terms and strategies that will help me not lose my money as soon as it’s wrapped up in stocks, mutual funds, etc. I mean, what’s the point of compound interest when there’s nothing to compound on?
It’s important that we take the time to learn about what we’re getting ourselves into. So if you’re on the younger side like me, know that learning about your options is better than making a decision based on fear and anxiety.
2. “I’m not working enough.”
Being a person who watches motivational video after motivational video, I feel extremely guilty if I’m not at work for at least nine hours every day. I hate this feeling. I worry about this, because I don’t want to find myself being financially insecure at the end of my undergraduate career. I plan on going on to get my Ph.D. in math after I graduate, so I know that if I don’t have a significant amount of savings, I’ll be pretty much screwed.
The problem here, though, is that I also need time to study and take care of myself. Again, it’s a problem I have with opportunity costs. So how do I reconcile the two? It took me a while to realize that no amount of hours or money is going to fix my mental health; I need time. I need time to focus on grounding myself and being mindful about how I’m feeling, and I can’t do that when I’m chasing dollar bills. I realized that once I have a better control of my anxiety, I’ll be able to work for longer without feeling drained or distressed.
3. “How do I know that I’m not financially f***ed for the future?”
Are you in debt? No
Do you have a budget? Yes
Are you saving money? Yes
Are you going to invest your money (eventually)? Yes
Then stop worrying!
Overall, I’m in a really great spot financially (especially for a 20-year-old), and I need to not be so hard on myself. Could I be in a better place? Yes — I mean, everyone could be. Am I already in a good place? Absolutely! When it comes to money-related anxiety, I just need to stick to my guns and keep working. In the words of Barack Obama, “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, you’ll make progress.”
Hattie is currently working towards her undergraduate degree in Mathematics at Colorado State University.
Image via Unsplash