If you read the title and thought “Fear of money? But I want money.” you aren’t alone. But just because you want money, it doesn’t mean you’re not afraid of it. You may be afraid to look at your bank account. You’re too afraid to open your bills. Maybe, you’re too afraid to check your credit score. You’re too afraid to start taking action steps to fix whatever financial situation you are in right now.
So, although, you may want money, you’re still too afraid to do the very basic things that will lead to more money. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about today.
I was terrified of money.
I used to have a fear of money. People oftentimes ask me, “Did you study finance? Were you good at math?” No. Math and I have been at war since I was 8 years old. So, I avoided it at all costs. I knew I was not good at it at all. I did not study finance, I studied English literature. And I was terrified of money because, to me, money equaled math, and I was never good at math. Which meant that I assumed I would always be bad at money.
Another reason I’ve been afraid of it, and sometimes this one still sneaks in whenever I reach a new level of abundance, is because I was afraid of what other people would think of me if I was like, “Oh, yeah, no, I want money.” I was afraid of what people would think of me. That’s one that I sometimes still struggle with.
I’m also afraid of leaving people behind. But I’m no longer afraid to look at numbers, and I used to be. I’m not afraid of running my credit report. I am no longer afraid of looking at my credit card bill. I’m not afraid of looking at the bank account. I’m certainly not afraid of asking for money anymore. I used to be afraid of asking for it. Not anymore. And you shouldn’t be either. I’m going to talk about how to get over your fear of money.
Realize the past wasn’t your fault.
You may feel super guilty about whatever past financial mistakes you have made. Things like student loans, a divorce, or messing up your credit when you were younger. But here’s the thing — no one is taught about money.
When I was at Progressive, I asked the crowd that I was speaking to “How many of you heard a positive conversation about money in the household while you were growing up?” And out of the entire auditorium, one person raised their hand. And she was the one person who had the most decent relationship with money. She was the one person in the room who didn’t feel so hostile about it or so much shame around it, and it’s because someone actually taught her.
But, that is not the case for most people. So, if you’ve made mistakes, it’s really not your fault. The system isn’t necessarily built in a way where people are being educated on these things. I oftentimes get asked, “Why don’t they teach personal finance in school?” I have no idea. No one has found a good answer to that question.
There’s a way out.
Now that you know the past wasn’t really your fault here’s part two. There’s a way out of your fear of money. I hear success stories all the time. I know people who have filed for bankruptcy and they’ve rebounded from that to being homeowners. I’ve had coaching clients who have gotten out of 50 grand of credit card debt. There’s always a way out. So give yourself a break. Be compassionate with yourself, stop making yourself feel like crap for whatever mistakes you may have made with money up until now because it’s not serving you.
And one of the ways you can begin to let that go is to realize that it’s probably not your fault. And even if you did know better, whatever, we all make mistakes and we all screw up. So, learn to let that go.
Look at the numbers.
Once you’ve done those two things, the next step is to look at the numbers. Don’t be scared anymore, it’s just numbers on a piece of paper or a screen, they have no emotion. The only emotion in the numbers is whatever emotion we give to them. Once you get clear on what the numbers are, that’s the hardest part.
Then, you can actually start making a plan. I’ve learned to actually love money. And I’ve learned to really love numbers because I realized it’s not an emotional thing. I don’t have to be afraid of it. If anything, if I approach it from the perspective of, “Wow, these are just symbols on a computer screen. And if anything, they’re giving me data and information so I can improve my situation.”
Doing that completely changed the game for me. And all I had to do was just flip how I was seeing numbers. I had to start seeing numbers as my friends.
Find a tribe or some form of support that will help you get over your fear of money. You may be able to join a Facebook group for support, or you may need a therapist. It really depends on your particular situation. But the key here is to find support. Unfortunately, we live in a society where most people’s thinking around money is pretty broken. So, you have to actually seek out people who have healthy relationships with money and who can help support you on this journey.
One of the best things I ever heard was “If you wanna go learn how to make money, go learn from people who are doing it. If you wanna go to the next level, go seek out people who are at the level where you want to be.” Start getting in their environment, start immersing yourself in that.
Realize that you don’t really have a choice.
You cannot avoid money forever. If you want to live a life of abundance, live a life where you’re not constantly stressed or anxious, you’re going to have to learn about and earn money. Even the basic things that you need in order to survive and keep living costs money. And I don’t mean to scare you, I just mean that it ain’t that deep. It really isn’t. We live in an economic system. So, if you don’t have a choice, you might as well just go learn about it.
Take it one day at a time.
Everybody’s on a different journey. Some people are paying off $80,000 in student loan debt and they deal with things like debt fatigue. Other people like myself, are recovering underearners. For other people, it’s bankruptcy or credit issues. No one is unscathed. So, take it one day at a time.
There’s so much we have to unlearn in order to have a good relationship with money. And it’s a process, it takes time. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion. But don’t give up. And don’t avoid it. Just keep showing up and take it day by day.
Remember, you are not a victim. You have complete control and you can change around your fear of money. And it’s not to say that you asked for bad money situations to happen to you. For example, no one asked for the 2008 recession. But at some point, you have to stop blaming the government, blaming the system, blaming whoever. There’s always going be something that’s gonna try and screw you with your money. It’s the way that it is. You can either accept it and take personal responsibility, or you can sit there and do nothing and keep blaming everybody else.