By: Fiona Nguyen
We all know that our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers are important…but when was the last time you thought about where you stand in terms of your relationship with money?
If you’re unsure about where you stand in terms of your finances, then consider the following questions:
Do you avoid checking your bank account at all?
Do any of the following things trigger you?
- Unpaid doctor’s bills
- Mounting credit card debt
- No money in savings (or less than you expect of yourself)
Are your finances always on the back burner in your mind?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then don’t worry, you’re not alone!
I personally know the dread of avoiding checking my bank account after a fun-filled weekend with friends… and I know you do too!
In our current world distorted by social media and the pursuit of social currency, people may be more concerned about taking the perfect photo with their Gucci belts and pricey new gadgets than future financial security. It’s important for us to work towards becoming more accepting and respectful of open discussions involving our relationships with money, especially among us college students who are struggling with student loans and debt. Unfortunately, the stressors and emotions that arise from financial burdens can be too overwhelming for people to easily face.
As Senior Contributor Prudy Gourguechon from Forbes states, “The most important emotions in relation to money are fear, guilt, shame and envy. It’s worth spending some effort to become aware of the emotions that are especially tied to money for you because, without awareness, they will tend to override rational thinking and drive your actions.” Negative emotions such as fear and worry can actually be motivating factors for some people to start saving money early in their lives for retirement, creating emergency funds, or to become knowledgeable about insurance policies. However as Prudy mentions above, it is when those negative emotions start controlling your actions instead of merely being part of the motivation behind them, that your relationship with money can quickly become negative.
When you experience negative thoughts and feelings towards your finances, you might find yourself avoiding important financial discussions altogether. As Prudy states, “We’re hard-wired to deploy various kinds of avoidance maneuvers when encountering something that is anxiety provoking or uncomfortable.” If you use avoidance or escapism to “run away” from your money problems, you may be fueling a vicious cycle. It’s very understandable that tackling finances is uncomfortable and difficult, but there are ways to manage that stress while still chipping away at the larger issue at hand… before you dig yourself into more debt.
Here are some tips to help you finally face your finances:
1.) When you receive a bill in the mail, tape it on your front door and do not set it down until it has been taken care of.
A bill can easily get lost in a pile of mail, so this is a good method to make sure that you do not forget. When a bill is constantly ignored, your account can go to a collections agency. It’s important to keep track of your bills to prevent any unwanted items from showing up on your credit report.
2.) Call your doctor’s office and try to set up a payment plan.
Some offices have different payment options, such as Abella. You might be able to choose to pay in select increments depending on what you are able to negotiate with your provider’s office. It’s helpful to remember that communication and negotiation is extremely important in these situations.
3.) Open up to a trusted family member or friend who can keep you accountable on your spending habits.
Personally, I opened up to my brother about my spending habits and asked for his help to manage my finances. As I prepare for college expenses next semester, I’ve had constant worries over my credit card debt. My brother helped me by offering advice on managing my credit cards, and even offered to open an account for me under his account so that he could track my spending. There are a multitude of options available. If you do not feel comfortable opening up to someone in your family or friends list, you can also try to speak to a branch member at your local bank to see if they have any recommendations for your personal situation.
4.) Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal.
Adopting new habits can be difficult and it’s important for you to acknowledge your own achievements. Remember that you are on a journey (not a destination) to healthier financial habits. Whenever you accomplish a goal, no matter how small, remember to have a mini celebration (something as simple as a happy dance)!
5.) Create concrete financial goals.
Grab a pen and paper! Take a seat and be honest with yourself about your finances. It can be helpful to create a budget to limit your future spending. Whether it’s a weekly or monthly plan, test out different time frames to see which plan works best for you. In terms of savings goals, you can stretch out the time by setting goals that are years in advance. You can even utilize the SMART Goals method to create tangible goals.
Managing your money can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s understandable to try to avoid these negative emotions surrounding money. You are not alone! However, avoiding financial problems does not solve them and can even create more issues for you in the future. There are many resources and strategies such as the ones suggested above to aid you in your goal to improve your relationship with your money. We hope you found these tips helpful and that you can start to build better financial habits today!