It’s normal to have money fears, no matter where you are in life. Some people worry naturally, and many folks associate money with their problems. For example, money is a central issue in many divorces. Also, if your parents were broke and took on second jobs, they were likely to come home exhausted and stressed. While a respect of money is healthy, fears are bad — particularly when they make you put off dealing with money. Your situation just gets worse. Here are three money fears and how to conquer them.
1. You will always live paycheck to paycheck.
Of course you want to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Who wants that pattern of unpredictability and the feeling of barely getting by? You need a margin of safety.
To face this fear, you must understand your saving and spending habits. Take at least a month to track what you do with your money. Identify areas where you can cut spending, and build an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of living expenses. After that, you can start saving in earnest.
2. You will never have enough money to retire.
Few retirees (or soon-to-be retirees) feel comfortable asking relatives for money, and many are afraid their money will be gone many years before they die. The good, if cliche, news is that it’s never too late for you to begin retirement planning. Start saving what you can now, and talk with a financial planner about your retirement options. Stick to your budget to ensure that you’re in the best position possible in your later years. The more you know about your financial situation, the more you can do about it.
3. You will always be in debt.
Debt certainly can seem insurmountable: Your mortgage, student loans, credit card bills and kids’ tuition all add up. To face this fear, set aside a few hours to list all of your debts: how much, from whom, the repayment schedules and associated interest rates. Simply understanding your debts and breaking them apart often makes them more manageable. Create a plan for hammering away at the debt while avoiding new debt. Give yourself deadlines to work with; for example, plan to pay off your mortgage in the next 10 years. Many folks set rewards like a trip as motivators to keep paying down debt.
Fears become much easier to face once you educate yourself. When you understand your money fears, they become more manageable, and you can work proactively to improve your finances.