December 2023 – Meaningful holidays does not have to be expensive

Everyone worries about money from time to time, but financial anxiety is different. Financial anxiety is an obsessive fear of things related to money that can often be debilitating.

Financial anxiety can be triggered by any number of things, not just a lack of money. Those who suffer from financial anxiety are continually worrying about bills and might be afraid to look at their bank account or cope with anything to do with personal finances. And like other forms of anxiety, financial anxiety is unhealthy.

It can have an impact on your physical health causing insomnia, loss of appetite, or an inability to focus.

It’s only natural that financial hardship and loss of income will create worry. When that worry escalates to obsession, it can become a true anxiety disorder.

Watch for symptoms of financial anxiety

There are many symptoms related to financial anxiety disorder. Some of them seem obvious, while others may be surprising. Here are just a few:

  • Overspending: You would think that money worries would cause you to save your money, but shopping provides temporary relief from money anxieties. It becomes a vicious cycle where you keep spending to get relief, which makes the problem worse.
  • Hoarding: Overspending can lead to hoarding; taking comfort in material items to relieve the anxiety from money challenges.
  • Fear of spending: The other side of hoarding is being frugal beyond reason. Obsessive saving could prevent you from enjoying vacations or living in a comfortable home. It can also lead to avoiding home repairs and healthcare. People who overwork or work obsessively to earn more may also suffer from this type of anxiety.
  • Uncontrollable finances: People with financial anxiety often are uncomfortable accumulating wealth. This can make it difficult to budget or prioritize household spending, and it can have a disastrous impact on retirement planning.
  • Depression: Feeling depressed about the world around you can stem from a financial anxiety disorder.
  • Obsessive behavior: Money anxiety can cause obsessive behavior as well, such as an inability to sleep or continually checking your online bank account.

Dealing with financial anxiety

Rather than remaining frozen in fear, consider ways you can alleviate financial stress and take control of your personal finances. Here are some suggestions to help you cope with financial anxiety:

  • Schedule a money check-in: Set a financial goal for yourself to save a set amount by a specific date. Then start putting money aside.
  • Create a household budget: Putting your income and expenses on paper will show you exactly where your money is going so you can take control of your spending.
  • Manage your debt: Debt is one of the biggest factors that creates financial stress. Having a financial plan can help you avoid debt. If you are carrying debt, developing a strategy to pay it down will help put you in control of your debt.
  • Create an emergency fund: Having an emergency fund can give you peace of mind because you know you have enough money set aside to pay your bills if you become sick or lose your job.
  • Discard financial shame: Comparing your lifestyle or spending to others, especially on social media, only feeds money anxieties. Spending and accumulating wealth is not a contest.
  • Practice mindfulness: How do you physically react to things associated with money? If your heart rate spikes, you begin perspiring or your mind starts racing. Try to relax with deep breathing exercises. You also can try to restructure your thinking by reminding yourself that there are things you cannot control.


Get help

You can take control of your finances. Credit Unions and Debt solution companies have financial advisors and counselors available to help you. They also offer a wide range of financial tools that will make managing money easier. Here are some ways you can get started:

If you find that these ideas about money are impacting your life to the degree of disrupted sleep, appetite, or conflict in relationships about money habits, please reach out for support, especially, during the holiday times of expectation. 

Making holidays meaningful does not have to be expensive.  Research your families love languages and find ways that each person feels loved.  Sometimes the right book, recipe, or outing is just the kind of experience a family member truly yearns for, the right words that notice the gifts and talents of those individuals.   With the economy being the way that it is right now, we will need to be creative rather than apologetic in adapting to a changing environment.  

From all of us at Vancouver Island Counselling, we truly wish you a memorable, and relaxed holiday time.