If you’ve found yourself worrying about money lately, you are definitely not alone. Money anxiety, also called financial anxiety, has become more common than ever, especially with the rising rates of inflation across the world.
You may keep wondering whether you will be able to still afford that one thing you have always wanted, even if you have been saving for it, as prices keep rising. What would happen if you lost your job today? Or if you ran into a huge medical emergency? Or if you, as the family’s breadwinner, became unable to work because of incapacitation or worse, died.
You may be worried and concerned about your money if you are the one catering to everything – housing, transportation, insurance, student loans, food, utilities, clothing, and more. You may be worried that maybe you are not doing enough currently, or maybe, all you are doing currently, financially, won’t be enough in future.
Even though you can’t always immediately fix the state of your bank account as you might like and eliminate the worrying directly, you can do something about it.
Here are some of the most common money worries, and how you can deal with them:
Starting a new job is always a bittersweet moment for most people, mainly because newness is almost always exciting, but also because a new job almost always comes with better terms, which may or may not include better payment.
As much as better payment inches you closer to your financial goals, enables you to save more, improve your quality of life, and even diversify your income by investing or starting a business, these prospects may make you ‘fearful’ of the new job.
Would you be able to meet their expectations? What if you fall short? What lies on the other side of a mistake? Firing? Demotion?
It is important, during the interview and hiring stage, to ask your panelists and management all the important questions, even those you feel might be too embarrassing.
What is expected of me? What does a typical day at work look like? What are the KPIs? In case I need help, are there certain protocols I should follow when asking for it?
Be keen to talk to your other colleagues, and ask questions whenever in doubt.
If you have been employed long enough, there must have reached a point during your employment where you contemplated asking your employer for a raise.
You could ask for a raise because you feel you have earned it by continuously meeting your targets, exceeding them even, or even, fueled by the rising inflation rates, and your salary has ceased to cater to all your needs and wants.
However, the thought of asking for a raise is likely to spark a nervousness within you, because no one ever knows what lies on the other end of that conversation. Nevertheless, you may never know, unless you ask.
It is understandable to be afraid of asking for a raise for fear that it might annoy your employer, or that they might reject your request, which would leave you both feeling awkward or even upset.
However, if you have never gotten a raise, or it has been long enough since you did, this is a worry worth confronting, especially when you know you are worth more than you are being paid. This may be based on salaries at comparable jobs.
Before you ask for a raise, make sure you have a strong argument. If possible, make an extensive list of your points of argument, so that you present them in a clear and respectful way.
Whether you’ve brought in more sales, helped increase your team’s efficiency, or accomplished other achievements that have helped your company as a whole, make sure you can prove this.
If your employer says money is tight but gives prospects of revisiting the conversation later, ask them for a reasonable and workable timeframe, and make a point of following up.
If they openly say there isn't a chance, even in the future to give you a raise, then this might be a sign that it’s time to update your CV and start looking for jobs elsewhere.
It’s difficult to think about the worst thing that could happen to you or someone you love. But preparing for the worst is a smart move, especially when it comes to your finances.
It’s time to figure out where you’d stand financially if there is an early death, in case loved ones depend on you or if you depend on another breadwinner in your family,
Organise your paperwork and let a trusted loved one know where they can find critical documents and information.
Think about life insurance options, get quotes, and make sure you’re covered.
If possible, seek legal advice from a professional and make sure you have a will to protect your family and your final wishes.
If you are going through hard financial times, you might be quick to respond to adventures that have a promise of high returns, over a short period of time, with minimum effort. This is the modus operandi of all grand scams; even pyramid schemes.
The best way to protect yourself from scammers is to take your time to do a background check of every person or company that promises you ‘heaven’. Ask questions, visit their offices, ask your friends about previous experiences.
Even if you are having a hard time financially, it is important to remember that no one gives you money for free. If you are not working for what they are promising you, then you are being scammed.
It is normal to be worried of running out of money once you stop working, no matter how hard and consistently you've for retirement.
Calculate how much money you will have for retirement, including in retirement accounts, other investments, and other income streams, and figure out how much money you will need to cover expenses.
After you know how much you will need, you’ll be able to tell whether or not it will be enough.
If possible, rethink your investment strategy to cater for more investment income. If you can continue to work, do so until you have saved enough to comfortably retire.
In case you feel like you would need financial help from your children once you retire, it is time to have a frank discussion with them so they can be prepared to assist you when the time comes.
Starting early enough to plan for retirement is the best option. If you are still young, you still have a lot of time before you hit your retirement age. Save as much as you can early in your career so that you can easily and quickly hit your retirement financial goals.
You might be worried that you will never be able to find a well-paying job, if you’re currently not earning as much money as you would like.
Consider enrolling for part-time classes or online courses, in case you feel your lack of education or of specific skills is holding you back.
Although this might prove difficult in your budgeting needs if your current salary is minimal, the long-term payoff is worth the short-term financial struggle.
Rejection, though discouraging, is a normal part of most of not all job searches. So, if you have the skills needed for a better paying job, just keep applying.
A good number of people live paycheck-to-paycheck, so it’s not uncommon to have a month when it’s tough to pay off your bills.
But what if an unexpected medical event occurs and you can’t afford to pay your bills in a timely manner?
Keep track of how much money you are making and how much you are spending, as this will ensure you don't find yourself in this situation.
It is also important to set up and ramp up your emergency fund, so as to take care of financial emergencies.
If you’re your family's breadwinner, the thought of sudden death might keep you awake at night, fearing that your family's financial needs will be thrown into disarray after your demise.
If you do not have it already, make plans and get life insurance, so that your family will be provided for in the case of your death.
Preparing a will with a legal professional, and notify your family members of the same.
There’s always a chance, however minimal, that you will be laid off or fired at least once in your lifetime.
Make building up an emergency fund your financial priority. Ensure your emergency fund can sustain you for three to six months’ in case of a job loss.
Ensure your CV is always updated and always look for networking opportunities so that you have connections if/when the time comes to look for a new job.
Build multiple streams of income aside from your job, such as a side jobs and especially passive income streams so that in case you lose your main source of income, you will still be making money
Getting injured, whether outside or within work, or being diagnosed with a long-term illness might prevent you from working.
Although most employment contracts have space for paid sick leave, this might not be enough to cover all the days you will have to miss work.
Further, on top of missed salaries, you might also be overwhelmed with medical expenses you weren’t prepared to pay for.
Make sure you have a large enough emergency fund. The funds can be used to cater for living expenses when you are out of work, and also cater for unplanned medical expenses, depending on what your financial needs may be.
Getting adequate health insurance can be the single most important thing you can do to reduce the effects of this worry.
Sometimes, for reasons out of our control, our monthly expenses might exceed our income, probably because income is too little, or you have taken up a lot of expenses that you can handle. In short, you might be living beyond your means, even as a result of a financial emergency.
Further, if you make late payments on your car loan or mortgage, making financial progress becomes even harder because of penalties, fees, and interest.
The more debt you have to pay off, the harder it is to save more in your emergency fund, or retirement accounts.
However hard it may seem, start with making a list of all of your sources of income, and all your debts.
Thereafter, track your spending for at least a month, so that you see where exactly your money is going.
Later, create a working budget that prioritises saving.
When you look at how you spend every shilling, there’s a high chance you’ll see places where you can easily reduce your spending.
To increase how much you can save, you ultimately have to find ways of increasing your income.
If you have never had a raise at work, or it has been long since you had one, talk to your employer about increasing the same.
Even though starting to save early might be of great help, you might still worry that you won’t have enough saved to pay for your children's college education by the time they’re ready to join.
It’s not too late or too early to start saving for your children's college education.
You can take out an education policy from an insurance company, for instance.
Consider opening a separate savings account and save specifically for their education.
You could also take a personal loan, in case they are about to leave for college and you have not saved enough.
However, make sure none of these options makes a dent in your own financial goals or retirement plans.
To ease the burden of paying fees, you could also have your child apply for scholarships, or have them live at home if they attend a nearby school.
Having a 'saving' mentality drives you into deep guilt every time you spend money on anything that is categorized as a “want”.
This mentality can prevent you from ever enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Create a working budget that accounts for all your needs, including contributions to your savings, emergency fund, and retirement fund.
If you have money left over, don’t feel guilty of using it for recreational purposes.
The 50/30/20 budgeting rule advises dedicating 50% income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings.
As long as your recreational spending is within your budget, you should not feel worry or guilt each time you spend on a 'want'.
In life, we start young. We get taken care of as we grow up then later on the roles reverse. It then becomes us who take care of our parents.
It is seldom an issue to take care of parents until when it starts becoming potentially financially draining. This is especially true if medical expenses start becoming high.
It is important to open a conversation about money with your parents even before you need to financially step in. The ideal situation is them having their own financial cushions which would necessitate you to step in.
The conversation is basically about retirement planning; pension funds, longer-term investments that guarantee passive income and appropriate health insurance.
When you think about marriage, your main desire is normally a blissful life full of love, admiration and peace. But it is not always envisioned. There is the other side. The ugly side that is full of conflict eventually leading to a divorce. That is the side that worries a lot of people.
Divorces can be unpleasant and costly. There is no shortage of cautionary stories.
If you are already established financially, you could choose to sign prenups before having a wedding.
A prenup is a contract note that lists each person’s assets and specifies what each party's property rights will be in the event of a dissolution of their union.
Worrying about money, as much as it is not a unique problem, can only be dealt with if something is done to cater for when the worries come true. Otherwise, worrying about them, and then doing nothing about it, only keeps you in a cycle of constant worry.
Additionally, following the above mentioned steps might inch you closer to your financial freedom, as it will make you more aware of all your money moves.
The goal is not to do all these at once, but to start small, one by one, ticking off the one with the highest priority first (and priorities differ from one person to another), until everything is sorted out.