As we approach Thanksgiving and end of year holidays, you may be reflecting on all your blessings and what is in store for you and your family next year. The unknown can be exciting for some yet fearful for others- particularly when it comes to financial matters. Without a doubt, fear is one of the strongest emotions that we experience. Fear can do one of two things: it can motivate us or it can paralyze us. Fear is often what keeps many people from dealing effectively with personal finance issues. In fact, you may know someone who has tried to ignore the problem, taken no action, and ended up only making matters worse from the increased anxiety.
Conquering our fears is an essential step to becoming financially empowered and effectively managing our financial lives. To take control, we first need to understand the root causes of these strong emotions, and then learn to deal with them. Here are some recommendations that may help you conquer your fear and stay in control of your financial future:
- Make fear your friend, not your enemy. Recognize fear as a natural alert signal, indicating potential danger ahead, which can allow you to avoid painful consequences. Use these signals as motivation to get help quickly, rather than remain frozen until the damage is done. Today there are more sources of help than ever before, including the Internet, social media, as well as instant access to experts, friends, and family. Get all the facts related to your financial questions, weigh the alternatives, and you will be able to make an informed decision.
- Separate the real from imagined fears. Imagination, in the world of unknowns, is not your friend. Think of all the things you worried about as a child that never happened. Don’t allow your financial future to be one of your unknowns. Practice the basics of keeping up to date on budgeting, credit rules, mortgage alternatives, and debt management. The result will be fewer imagined nightmares and clearer decisions that you can implement without fear.
- Use your fear as motivation to control your spending habits. Technology and online services have made it easier than ever to track every dollar you spend, and look for ways to change bad habits. Don’t let peer pressure or the “urge to splurge,” railroad you into embarrassing financial nightmares, like maxed out credit cards that you can’t pay, or even bankruptcy. Controlled spending leads to controlled saving and the financial freedom of your dreams.
- Use modern technology to overcome the fears of financial complexity. Remember the healthy fear you had of driving a car, or operating your first computer, before you learned how simple they can be in getting you where you want to go? With all the financial tools available today, you don’t need to be a math wizard to estimate mortgage payments, pay your taxes, and build a budget. Use these tools to help you make decisions and keep you in control.
- Keep a positive mental attitude to keep financial fears at bay. Remember that a happy family life, good health, and a job that you enjoy are worth more in happiness and self confidence than a bigger car, bigger house, or more money than your neighbor. Don’t be pressured by others into extravagant or risky financial situations. Happiness and laughter will chase away all your financial fears.
- Consciously build a financial buffer to reduce the fear of emergencies. If you don’t walk so close to the edge of the cliff, your fear of falling will go away. Everyone needs an emergency fund to cover life’s little stumbles, unforeseen expenses, and repairs that come up in everyday life. It only takes a small amount, done regularly, to mitigate your fear of recovery. Using insurance wisely is another way to buffer financial losses.
- Start early on the long-term necessities to minimize anxiety. It’s never too early to start funding your retirement, and building a nest egg for your kids’ college education. Once you start the habit of putting something aside for these predictable needs, you won’t even feel the pain of giving, and your nagging fears of when to start will go away.
Finally, nothing mitigates financial fears like having the skills you need to handle most situations, and the access to a trusted financial advisor to help you with the special cases that may come up. Make sure that you and your family work as a team to learn and stay current on financial terms and transactions. Ongoing training and education is required, no matter what your background. Check out my Financial Mentorship website for great coaching and resources at www.financialmentorship.com to connect with likeminded individuals who can celebrate your financial goals with you!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to make a decision. Procrastination and ignoring a financial problem are the real causes of fear, rather than the other way around. There has never been a more important time than now to take control of your own financial destiny. Rather than allowing financial fears to spiral your finances and your happiness into the ground, take these recommendations and enjoy life while looking forward to the future!
To Your Success,