Monday Money: Are you afraid of money?

Picture of a scary tiger on a merry go round to illustrate my post on are you afraid of money

Face up to your financial fears

 

Week 2 of a new Monday Money series of blog posts  I’m hosting with Emma at EmmaDrew.info and Lynn from Mrs Mummypenny. It’s a great way to share content about money, so do check the links at the end for other brilliant money posts! Plus, find out how to join in if you’re a blogger. We’d love you to add your posts.

Are you afraid of money?

In theory, money is simple. Earn some cash, spend it on stuff we need, job done.

In practice, many of us are scared of money. I’ve been thinking about attitudes to money, after writing an article on financial FOFO, the financial Fear of Finding Out. It’s for the June issue of Woman & Home, on sale later this week. (Find the best offers on a Woman & Home subscription here*).

Fear of debt, dislike of maths, complicated jargon and lack of time can all make us ignore money issues. Bill switching is boring. Planning for tomorrow could mean deprivation today. Maybe there’s an element of Cinderella syndrome, waiting for Prince Charming to sweep us off our feet, and sweep away irritants like an overdraft.

Money is also tangled up with our emotions. I spoke with Simonne Gnessen, founder of Wise Monkey Financial Coaching and author of Sheconomics, who pointed out that spending can be used to celebrate, console ourselves, show off, shower people with love or even control others. That’s an awful lot of pressure on our bank balance.

Reasons to tackle financial FOFO

Trouble is, Financial FOFO can seriously damage your wealth. Ignoring money issues will only make matters worse. But by facing our fears, we can take control, shed stress and be able to sleep at night.

Simonne said: “Taking control of your spending isn’t about sacrifice and deprivation, it’s about creating freedom and options for your future.

“If you are drowning in debt and don’t have anything saved, you can’t quit your job and do something more creative, fulfilling and life enhancing.”

Relying on your other half may not work long term either. Shifting responsibility could leave you with a whole heap of trouble if you are widowed, or Mr Right becomes Mr Very Wrong.

I also talked to Maria Nedeva, a business school professor in Manchester, who preferred letting her husband look after money matters. Unfortunately, they both suffered from Financial FOFO.

Maria said: “I didn’t look at our bank statements for 10 years. Finally, I had a very bad feeling, and told my husband I wanted him to check.

For Maria, discovering they had run up £100,000 in unsecured debt was “the crisis that made me snap out of ‘I don’t want to know’ and start finding solutions to the problem”.

From turning a blind eye to family finances and her husband’s business issues, Maria swung into action. She threw herself into slashing unnecessary spending and earning extra cash. The couple paid off their debt in three years, and now, 5 years on, have built more than £300,000 in investments. Even better, Maria now writes a brilliant blog over at The Money Principle, all about growing income, eliminating debt and building wealth.

Tips on facing your fears

Time to feel the fear and do it anyway! Find your fear below, plus some tips on how to tackle it:

Fear of shame

There’s a lot of stigma around debt, which can make us feel ashamed. But debt has the power to destroy lives. Ignoring threatening letters, worrying statements and pestering phone calls won’t make the problem go away.

The good news is that no debt is ever too big to tackle, and the sooner you face up to your debts, the sooner you can start improving your situation. Set aside time to check your balances and add it all up. If you can plan how to cut the interest paid and increase your repayments, great. If it’s more of struggle, don’t be afraid to seek help. Step Change has a free debt remedy tool. It only takes about 20 minutes, and you could even try it in the middle of the night. Otherwise, contact one of the free debt advice services like Citizens Advice or National Debtline.

Fear of boredom

True, financial admin like bill switching and pension planning aren’t the most exciting occupations. I try to tackle one big task every month, to make it manageable, and celebrate the money saved.

Fear of maths

Sometimes, financial FOFO has deep roots in our childhood. If you never liked maths at school, you may carry a fear of figures into adult life. But if you sit down with a calculator or spreadsheet, most money issues are just about adding up, taking away and percentages. You can also find help online, for example by finding a budget planner where you just plug the numbers in, and the calculations are all done for you.

Fear of deprivation

Avoiding money matters could be a way to avoid decisions we don’t want to make. Opening that credit card bill or pension statement could mean deciding not to buy something or go somewhere. Rather than focusing on any sacrifices today, Simonne suggested thinking of it as a gift to your future self.

Fear of seeming mean

We’re not just afraid of depriving ourselves, but also of depriving other people. Frugality is often associated with being mean or penny pinching. Spending, meanwhile, is associated with being generous, treating friends and family to drinks, food and gifts.

But a thoughtful present can be valued far more than an expensive but impersonal gift set. Welcoming people round for a meal, spending time with your nearest and dearest, playing with your children, can cost less but mean much more. Plus, sticking your hand up and saying “Could we do something that costs less?” could be a relief to other people who are also worried how they’ll afford it.

Fear of losing status

We are surrounded by pressures to consume, whether it’s the latest clothes, shoes, cushions, cars, gadgets, holidays, homes or whatever else. Saying ‘no’ when everyone around you is splashing the cash can be hard, but unless you’re a squillionaire, we all have to make choices. If you wonder how someone else seems to have it all, remember it could actually be propped up by overdrafts, credit cards and a whole heap of stress.

My best advice is to work out what really matters to you, and plough your money into that. Buying something might bring a short burst of happiness, but it doesn’t actually make us more successful or nicer people. I work on being grateful for what I already have, and value peace of mind rather than extra stuff. But if your friends are hung up on possessions and spending for the sake of it – might be worth finding new friends.

Fear of becoming an adult

Taking control of your own money matters can feel scary if someone else has always done it for you. Maybe your parents or partner always took those tricky decisions, leaving you footloose and fancy free. Break down big money matters into smaller steps, and feel proud when you flex your financial muscles and tick things off your ‘to do’ list.

Fear of jargon

The financial services industry doesn’t do itself any favours with the complicated jargon used to describe many products. I try to find articles and blog posts that explain matters in language that’s easier to understand. Often, the easiest way is to ask questions, so I’ll ask experts or ring customer services to find out more.

Fear of perfection

Sometimes, we put off money matters because they seem too complicated, and it feels like it will take too long to digest all the information and make the right decision. For me, switching broadband was a nightmare, with all the technical terms, and I still procrastinate about the right investment decisions.

But progress is better than perfection. Better to start soon and start small. So for example, I called my broadband company and asked about cheaper options, rather than trying to work them all out for myself. With investing, I finally realised I didn’t have to know everything about investing to start. I could pick a sensible option and learn more later.

 

Now – over to you. Which fears sounded familiar? Any extra fears or tips for tackling financial FOFO? Do say in the comments, I’d love to hear.

Pin for later:

Picture of a scary tiger on a merry-go-round in a Pinterest size image

Monday Money linky

We love Mondays – they offer a fresh start and we want to read your money related blog posts too! Monday Money gives you a chance to share any existing money related blog posts, or create new posts to link us.
Open to all bloggers, not just money bloggers, we look forward to seeing what you have posted recently about money. We invite you to add your post to the linky.
The Monday Money linky is run by Lynn from Mrs Mummy Penny, Faith from Much More With Less and Emma from EmmaDrew.Info. We are really excited about inviting you to join in with this linky.

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Taking part in the Monday Money will help you to not only find awesome bloggers and read great blog posts, but it will help to bring more traffic to your own blog posts. Give it a try, we would love for you to join in.
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The rules

We are really excited that you want to join in, but we do have some rules for taking part in the Monday Money linky.
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14 Comments

  1. April 30, 2018 / 11:16 am

    Fear certainly has a lot to answer for in relation to money and finances! They really should cover this in primary school in greater detail than they do now!

    #MondayMoney

    • May 1, 2018 / 12:58 pm

      Yes, more financial education in schools would be great. We learn most of our attitudes to money from our family, so otherwise it can be pretty haphazard. Hope I’m getting my kids off to a good start.

  2. April 30, 2018 / 1:18 pm

    I certainly did have the fear in the past. The more I read posts like this, the better I am able to deal with it. I am also an advocate for having these lessons in school. Thanks for sharing.

    • May 1, 2018 / 12:58 pm

      Glad blogs are helping you tackle your fears! I learn so much from other bloggers.

  3. April 30, 2018 / 2:41 pm

    What a great post Faith, you are so right finance is full of fear, shame, scaryness. I love this post and will share it over on Facebook as well as Twitter for maximum impact #mondaymoney

    • May 1, 2018 / 12:58 pm

      Thanks Lynn, that would be fab! Glad you liked the post.

  4. April 30, 2018 / 3:32 pm

    Great post Faith. It’s very true that there are a lot of fears surrounding money – hopefully by talking about money more and encouraging conversation, we can inspire people to take control of those fears and face them head on.

    • May 1, 2018 / 12:59 pm

      Do agree Emma. Talking about money is such a taboo, but if we discussed it more, it could avoid so many problems.

  5. April 30, 2018 / 9:07 pm

    Fabulous post Faith – I trained with Simonne and she is a wealth of useful information.

    • May 1, 2018 / 1:00 pm

      Simonne was brilliant, very helpful and so many good ideas.

  6. April 30, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    I like your term FOFO. It describes what so many people suffer from. I think the fears of losing status and financial jargon are ones that so many people suffer from. If only we had more financial literacy taught in schools.

    • May 1, 2018 / 1:01 pm

      Fascinating which fears resonate with different people. As I get older, I’ve stopped worrying so much about other people. I keep trying to force myself to focus on progress not perfection though!

  7. May 1, 2018 / 12:49 pm

    FOFO! Love it! I suffered with all of the above for years until I got divorced and had to take charge. It’s not as hard as I feared!

    • May 1, 2018 / 1:02 pm

      Brilliant that you’ve tackled your fears and they didn’t turn out so bad! All power to your elbow Jane.

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