Some might argue that money is not the most important thing, but for people suffering from financial anxiety, money is almost as important as oxygen.
Most Nigerians can quickly understand this comparison because many people in the country, both young and old, struggle with severe “Sapa” (financial difficulties). Considering you need money to feed, it is no surprise that people who make very little money, and watch it disappear almost as quickly as oxygen leaves the lungs suffer this anxiety.
What’s Money Anxiety?
Money anxiety is a persistent feeling of stress and worry that arises from concerns about your financial situation. It’s a gnawing fear that can keep you up at night, making it difficult to focus on anything else. You might feel like you’re constantly on the edge, waiting for the next financial disaster to strike.
Imagine having to choose between paying school expenses and feeding your starving stomach. Or worrying about how to cover unexpected expenses like medical bills or overdue house rent. These concerns cause a constant feeling of unease, a sense of worry, and chronic stress that can haunt you daily and cause emotional pain that’s hard to shake off.
In this piece, we will explore the causes and effects of money anxiety and strategies for managing this challenge.
How Debt, Unemployment, And Raising Cost of Living Causes Money Anxiety
When you’re broke, unemployed, and can’t even afford to buy a vowel on “Wheel of Fortune”, life starts to feel like a choking game.
Sometimes, it’s not your fault. Unexpected occurrences can trigger financial stress. For instance, around 20% of full-time workers in Nigeria lost their jobs and the economy plunged deeper when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
This kind of situation affects not only the individual but also their family and society. When a person loses their job, stays in debt, lacks financial education and can’t afford basic needs, money anxiety sets in.
“Money is like a sixth sense – and you can’t make use of the other five without it.”– William Somerset Maugham
Get our free eBook on how to live a happy and meaningful life when you input your email now.
The Effects of Financial Anxiety
If the money anxiety persists, their performance (concentration and decision-making ability) may deteriorate. For example, this Research explained that there is a strong connection between scarcity and cognition: The more a person struggles financially, the less he or she can channel brain processes to completing other tasks.
The anxiety can also change how they plan for the future, making them more irrational, skeptical, and pessimistic. In the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much”, the author explained that [people with too little] focus on urgent tasks, needing attention with a time constraint, rather than important tasks, needing attention but without a time constraint. [And] urgent tasks cause many to use quick fixes, like loans, which have significant consequences.”
Families may be forced to deny education to their children. Additionally, prolonged unemployment can harm their mental and physical health, and shorten life spans.
My family got really broke a few years after relocating from Borno state (Nigeria). Since then it has been a struggle for survival because my parents’ new business isn’t working out so well. We eat from hand to mouth.
To meet our daily needs (house rent, schools, healthcare, et cetera) my mother resorts to borrowing money often.
The constant fear and anxiety had a significant impact on their mental and emotional state (especially my father who lost quite a lot to the crisis in the north)
Speaking from both firsthand experience and research, money anxiety can cause
- Drug abuse
- Stomach aches
- Muscle tension
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Lack of motivation to find a new job, and
- Other mental and emotional health issues.
Which eventually affects your relationship, health, and overall happiness.
“Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s a lot easier to be happy when you’re not worried about paying the bills.”
10 Ways To Deal With Money Anxiety
Over 50 years ago Viktor E. Frankl discovered that unemployment can cause sadness and feelings of uselessness. But it’s not just about having a job, finding meaning in the job was crucial. And I agree with him…
To be happy and ease financial anxiety, your job or career must be personally fulfilling and contribute positively to others.
For example, even though I’m not yet financially free, writing and the plan of photographing the humanity and emotions of people who are suffering, overlooked, and marginalized fills me with hope and excitement. The other day I got a message from a lady who had read my content on Death Anxiety. She was grateful, and that filled my heart with joy.
The thing is, doing meaningful work can make you feel proud, fulfilled, and less anxious, which enables you to do your job well – eventually bringing in more money which mitigates the anxiety.
However, money anxiety doesn’t always stop when you are doing meaningful work and have an income.
It can also be triggered by
- Fear of losing money (due to economic instability, the rise of AI and robots, illnesses, and so on)
- Unhealthy comparison
- Concerns about retirement
- Et cetera.
The cure for financial anxiety is to solve your money problems. But, it is not that easy, because money problems can sometimes be out of your control. Yet, there are still things you can do to calm down your money anxiety.
To evade money anxiety, you’ll need to work hard and smart; You’ll have to
Working requires learning the skill for a job. And, people who are skillful at their job, are respected and paid for their effort.
When you start working, it’s necessary to build from the basic to advanced skills, related to your job, to increase your income. To do this: keep learning and improving. In other words, take on new challenges and seek out opportunities to develop new skills.
As you improve your skills, you become more valuable to yourself and your employer, which can lead to promotions and pay raises. Besides, having a diverse set of skills can make you more marketable if you ever decide to look for a new job.
When you start making money, remember to Save
This means putting money aside for possible financial storms or opportunities. Getting ahead, to prevent deficits and monetary stress. Because saving money creates a safety net for you and your folks.
Once you have saved enough money, decide what to do with it. You may choose to keep it in a savings account or invest
You could invest in stocks, real estate, or yourself (by paying for courses, mentorship – anything to improve yourself). Consider your personal monetary goals and risk tolerance when making investment decisions.
We’re all getting older and weaker. You won’t be able to do so much when you are pale and gray. So plan for your retirement or other long-term goals. This way, with the compounding interest you can grow your money over time and save yourself unnecessary pain.
Sometimes the best investment is in a business
Start a business:
Owning a business can create new income streams.
This will require you to understand your market, competition, and customer needs.
Networking is about fostering and maintaining professional relationships with people in your industry or field.
People you meet can help you learn about job opportunities, get fresh insights and information about your industry. Their contacts can be leveraged for advice and support. To do this, you need to be proactive, attend events, join groups, and stay in touch with your contacts.
Also Read: How To Make Friends as a Young Adult
Branding means turning yourself into a “superstar” of what you do. You do this by highlighting, embodying, and promoting the uniqueness of your goods, services, and skills.
Branding is about creating a unique name, symbol, or style that identifies and distinguishes you or your product from others.
The purpose is to create a memorable identity that helps customers recognize and differentiate you from your competitors.
Ask for a Raise, or Apply For A Better Job:
If you are genuinely good at your job and believe you deserve more than you are making, you should ask for a raise.
But be prepared to make a strong case for why you deserve it. This means highlighting specific accomplishments and contributions you’ve made to the business or company and displaying your value in terms of your skills and expertise.
However, if you choose to look for a new job, make sure that you are clear on what you’re looking for and what your priorities are. This will help you to focus your search and find a position that is truly a good fit for you.
Don’t fret. If you don’t get the raise or job you’re hoping for, don’t give up. Keep trying.
Budget and track your spending:
Budgeting and monitoring expenditures have helped me stay calm during tough times. You can do this too by listing your income and expenses on a sheet and creating a plan for your money.
The process might feel tedious and unnecessary, but when a financial storm hits, you’ll be glad you were prepared. Because It allows you to see where you are spending too much money, so you can find ways to save instead.
Live Within Your Means:
As kids, our mama always said to us “cut your coat according to our size” whenever we asked for more than we needed or could handle. It’s like wearing oversize clothes – only a foolish or greedy person would feel comfortable in them.
This early financial education is priceless in a society like ours that is extravagant for reasons like;
- Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
- Desire to impress people
- Peer pressure
- Et cetera.
As they say, “you can’t have champagne on a beer budget!” But don’t worry, it’s okay to have a beer every once in a while. But when you can’t afford a beer, you can settle for a “zobo” drink. This is to avoid the pressure of “keeping up with the Kardashian”, the lies to maintain a fake self-image, and financial ruin.
Fix your values:
It’s easy to fall into the trap of always wanting more and feeling like you never have enough. But the truth is, you never truly “own” anything – everything is temporary and can be taken away at any moment, by misfortune, sickness, or death.
Instead of constantly striving for more, or comparing yourself with people who have more money than you do, focus on the aspects of life that are invaluable, such as; relationships, personal growth, and experiences that bring you joy.
Almost everyone experiences money anxiety at one point or another. It’s a tough situation, but we can control our response. The feeling can indicate problems we face or might face. Don’t ignore or dwell on it. Use it to motivate you to pursue a meaningful goal and find happiness in making an effort.
And remember, the best time to look for a job, skill up, save, budget, network, build a brand, live frugally, diversify your income, invest, or fix your values is when you are not desperate. Because when you are not desperate, you have more flexibility and time to make reasonable decisions.
In the end, the words of Suze Orman say it all;
“The only way to get rid of financial anxiety is to become financially literate.”
If you are looking to learn a new skill, don’t hesitate to check out our Skills Page <<<
A mindful self-help writer and photographer