It can be easy to get immediately overwhelmed when tackling your finances. When you’re uncomfortable with something, distractions become stronger and overwhelm is lurking at every corner. This is when ~binge thinking~ starts to kick in.
Binge thinking is when you think about what action you want to take, but don’t actually start. Common symptoms include: numbing out via multiple seasons of Netflix, feeling ‘drunk’ on other people’s content (i.e. 42 weeks in on someone’s Instagram feed), avoiding doing whatever you most need to be doing at all costs and genuinely over thinking to the point of feeling like a failure.
It’s a web you get tangled in, and as someone who has gotten myself into this web, and then had to painstakingly untangle myself, I’ve developed some tricks to avoiding binge thinking altogether.
Here are my top five tips to help you stop thinking and start doing when it comes to finance (and life):
1. Start small
Why you’re binge thinking: A lot of times it’s hard to know where to start when you’ve taken on a lot. For example, when you’re trying to get your finances in order, trying to think about credit, savings, loans, etc. makes it seem completely overwhelming. There’s too much to tackle at once and it makes us shut down altogether.
How to tackle it: The way I’ve been able to take on any financial challenge is to start small. Don’t plan on taking on your taxes for the last three years in one afternoon. Break it up into three weeks. Prioritize, plan out what you’re going to tackle, and when, then start.
2. Get a money mentor
Why you’re binge thinking: When I’m in over my head, I tend to push things out of my head entirely because it’s easier than facing debt, bills, or anything else that’s pressing.
How to tackle it: I ended up hiring a certified financial planner and my life completely changed. Yes, it was an investment to work with her and I was worried about putting the money down at the time, but that investment completely changed my life. It made me face my money fears. It was also helpful that I didn’t feel judged! Hiring a financial planner isn’t for everyone. If that doesn’t seem like the route for you, look into other resources that you will find helpful and supportive. Bookmark money blogs you love, walk into a bank to talk to a teller and make sure that you are open to hearing someone else’s advice.
3. Don’t do it alone
Why you’re binge thinking: You don’t know who to turn to and discuss the issues with, and sorting through it all by yourself is enough to make your head spin.
How to tackle it: Money can be a taboo subject between friends and family, but if you’re willing to talk about it together, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you realize you’re not alone. Encourage a friend or family member to join you for an afternoon of tackling your finances together. Just be sure it’s someone you trust. The truth is, you don’t have to share exactly how much money you have or owe, but if you commit to tackling a money challenge together, you’ll be less likely to back out. Opening up to someone about your money troubles is scary, but just sitting down and talking everything through with someone can be hugely beneficial.
4. Don’t sit still
Why you’re binge thinking: Because you’ve been pouring over the same spreadsheet for hours, and you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere.
How to tackle it: If you’ve spent 15 minutes (or more) thinking about how to start and you feel overwhelm and self-doubt creep in, don’t let it win. Make a conscious effort to get out of your head and back into your body. Go for a quick walk or run. This will help those negative thoughts subside so you can focus on making a difference in your financial life.
5. Schedule a reward
Why you’re binge thinking: There’s no end goal, or end of the tunnel, and so even starting the task is too daunting.
How to tackle it: Before tackling a financial challenge, ask yourself what would be a reward that you could give yourself for completing the challenge? Perhaps it’s allowing yourself the night off to veg out and relax. Or maybe it’s treating yourself to a drink with a good friend, or an extra special ingredient for when you make dinner. If you have a reward you’re excited about on the horizon, it will motivate you to power through.
Right now is the ideal time to start living a life where you’re financially confident. Don’t stop yourself before you even start. Get your binge thinking under control and go for it.
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