I Worry About Money a Lot, but Here Are 3 Steps I Take to Ease My Anxiety

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These moves buy me a lot of peace of mind.

Key points

  • Some people are more financially insecure than others by nature.
  • Making a few key money moves has helped me avoid needless stress.

When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money, so I was always mindful of being frugal and spending carefully. But as I got older and deeper into adulthood, money-related concerns crept in. And to this day, I’m often plagued by financial concerns, even though I don’t have any unhealthy debt and I’m not doing poorly money-wise.

The good news, though, is that there are steps I’ve taken to ease my financial concerns. And if you’re in a similar boat, you may want to follow my lead.

1. I stick to a budget

Knowing exactly where my money goes month after month helps me feel better about my current level of expenses. It also makes it so that I’m not consistently overspending.

If you’re worried about money matters, it pays to put yourself on a budget and see if that helps. Now I happen to be old school and use a spreadsheet to track my expenses. But there are different budgeting apps worth playing around with if you’re first starting out.

2. I keep my large expenses low

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep your housing costs, including your mortgage, property taxes, and homeowners insurance, up to 30% of your take-home pay or less. I’m definitely in the “or less” camp, and spending a smaller percentage of my income on housing gives me more flexibility in my budget.

In recent years, my husband and I have had to grapple with a string of costly home repairs. We’ve definitely had to dip into our emergency savings to cover some of those costs — especially the larger ones. At the same time, we’ve avoided using our savings for smaller repairs because we don’t spend so much on housing and therefore have some wiggle room month to month.

Similarly, one of the cars we own (we need two due to living in suburbia) is 15 years old and not in the best shape. But we haven’t upgraded because the car still works. Keeping that old car around gives us more spending power for other things, which brings me peace of mind.

3. I maintain a robust emergency fund

Conventionally, financial experts have said that your emergency fund should contain enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses. Some experts are more conservative, especially in the wake of the pandemic. But I’ve pretty much always made a point to maintain an emergency fund with enough cash to cover a full year’s worth of bills.

Having that money in the bank has, through the years, served as a lifeline. It’s also made it so that the various surprise home repairs, car repairs, and medical bills I’ve been hit with haven’t caused me undue stress.

At this point, I’m convinced that I’m just plain wired to worry about money — perhaps more than the average person (hey, we all have our things). But these moves help ease my anxiety, and if you’ve been plagued by money worries, it pays to see if following a budget, keeping large expenses low, and boosting your emergency savings helps.

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