How To Overcome Money Fears

money beliefs money fear Jul 01, 2021

Most people have many fears when it comes to money. Although money opens doors and provides opportunities, it can create anxiety. People are afraid of losing their job, going bankrupt due to poor financial decision making, having our identities stolen,  losing everything in some global economic meltdown, or even just fear dying before making enough money to achieve financial freedom.

It’s important to be aware of legitimate fears when it comes to money and prepare for them. However, for most people money fears end up controlling their attitude about money and can impact their relationships. 

Money can give you freedom and power. It’s a great problem solver in that it can pay for bills and expenses. And money gives upi options that you may not otherwise have. 

However, fears related to money can also cause problems. 

Fears about money include:

  • If I have nothing to fall back on then I’ll be homeless
  • My money isn't safe in the bank or in investments if I don't know what's going on
  • I don’t know how to handle money
  • I’m no good with money
  • I get money but lose money because of interest rates, bad fiscal planning, and money mistakes
  • I will never have enough money
  • My money problems will never go away
  • I am afraid someone will steal my money
  • I will never feel safe with my finances
  • People will take advantage of me because of my money
  • My partner's spending will bankrupt us
  • My money will run out and I will die poor
  • Money problems will ruin my relationships
  • I have to keep up with the Joneses or face total rejection.
  • My money is safer with money management professionals because they will watch out for money better than I can
  • My partner's insecurity about finances will kill our relationship
  • Other people can take money away from me in divorce court or by suing me

Money Fears and Trauma

Money fears are often due to trauma from the past. 

When you’ve experienced childhood trauma related to finances you’ll often have these fears show up as an adult. 

An example of a money fear that comes from childhood includes “People I love have money problems, so I will too someday”. 

Perhaps your father always made bad investments or your mom didn’t manage money well. These experiences when you were young may lead you to feel that these things are inevitable for you too as an adult. 

But ultimately, these money fears have nothing to do with money itself; they’re about your family of origin and experiences from the past. 

Only when you understand your past experiences will you be able to see how these money fears manifest today. 

Money fear and Childhood Trauma

Developing a specific set of money fears based on your earliest experiences happens for many people.

If you were in a home where no one talked about money and your needs, it might feel as though any conversation about finances is fraught with danger or that talking to someone would be too threatening. You might even want to avoid money conversations altogether because they make you feel threatened. This can have a significant impact on your intimate relationship, because your partner might want to talk about money and you won't.

Your partner may also have trauma from childhood that impacts their current behavior around money. They might not understand money issues. This can cause money conflicts or money problems because your partner isn't talking about money with you.

On the other side of this coin, if money was a source of conflict growing up, then money fears can develop based on that experience. Perhaps money was the key driver in your parents divorce. This may cause you to avoid money conversations because you’re afraid of money conflicts and the impact it might have on your intimate relationship, so you avoid it entirely. 

If money was a source of stress during childhood, money may still be triggering money anxieties today.

Money fear and Attachment Style

Your attachment style can impact your security with money. 

When you have a secure attachment style you'll often have fewer money fears and financial anxieties than people with other attachment styles. 

Those with anxious attachment styles may feel overly worried or over focused on money. 

People with avoidant attachment styles may avoid thinking about their finances. This can actually amplify money fears since people who don't know what's going on with their finances may be more likely to be hit with unexpected bills or financial problems.

Discover your attachment style now with the Attachment Style Quiz


Learning From Your Money Fears

Listen to your money fear, as it may be telling you something about your relationship with money. 

Your fear might tell you that you feel that only by having enough money will you ever have a true sense of freedom and that you will always feel imprisoned or trapped without it. 

Or perhaps your money fear tells you that not having enough will sacrifice your security and safety and you’ll be in serious danger. 

Your fears might also say that you need to save for a rainy day in case something happens or you’ll end up destitute. 

There are legitimate fears that we all need to attend to around money beneath each and every one of the fears above. 

It’s smart to have a solid savings plan so that you’re never caught off guard should there be an unexpected family emergency or job loss. 

It’s a good move to have investments which provide security and aren’t all high risk. 

It’s important to remind yourself that your finances can help you achieve the freedom you desire. 

The problem is when you get caught in a loop of worry and anxiety about these fears. When your thinking becomes catastrophic about the potential negative impact of those fears. 

When you get stuck only thinking about the negative, you know you’re in trouble. 

Ultimately, you want your finances to help support you in building a life you desire. In creating more intimacy in your relationships, more freedom in your schedule, and more fun in your life. 

However, when you’re bogged down by fears, worries, and anxieties about money you can’t achieve any of these things. 

The fear becomes the focus rather than the focus being on the potential of what a positive relationship with money can bring to your life. 

Your money does not control you if you do money right. 

Coping Mechanisms and Money Fear

When you experience money fear related to trauma or your attachment style, you will often use a coping mechanism to try to deal with those stressful and out-of-control emotions. 

These coping mechanisms include things like excessive spending or addictive behaviors like gambling or shopping. 

You're trying to control your anxiety with these external sources and if they don't work you might turn to more harmful things like drugs and alcohol.

Trauma can also lead to people using defense mechanisms like denial and suppression. 

These techniques are often used in response to trauma because they help the person avoid or forget about what happened. 

However, these techniques can be problematic when it comes to finances as they may make us less aware of our own financial situation.

How To Reduce Money Fears

If money is causing fear or anxiety you should consider talking to a money psychologist, therapist, or mental health professional about it.

Exposure therapy (also called exposure and response prevention) can be an effective therapy for money fears. This money therapy is based on the idea that exposure to your specific money fears can help you get used to your money anxieties so you no longer need to use a money defense mechanism like money avoidance as a way to cope with money stress and money trauma.

Exposure involves having real-life experiences related to your money fears.

This might include going for a walk without any money in your pockets or not checking your bank account for a week if you check it compulsively. Or it could include paying your bills immediately when receiving them rather than ignoring them until the last moment. 

Usually, when someone is exposed to something that they are fearful or anxious about they will fall back on certain responses, or behaviors, in order to cope. 

Response prevention involves not using money defenses like money avoidance as a way to cope with money stress or money trauma.  With this money therapy you can learn how to stop relying on negative coping mechanisms and face fear and anxiety directly so they no longer have power over your money behavior. 

It’s also important to become aware of your defense mechanisms around money. 

With money trauma and money fear,  avoidance of your financial reality is a frequently used defense mechanism.  Often this avoidance ends up creating more anxiety than existed in the first place. 

Learn to see the behaviors that you lean on when you have money fears. 

When money triggers money fears, stop and take a moment to notice how you are responding.  Become more aware of your money behaviors so you can choose healthier money skills that will help you get back on track and stay on track over the long term.

Understand the impact of childhood trauma and your family of origin on your money beliefs and money stories for both you and your partner. When you understand this more deeply you’ll have more financial empathy and be able to see your behaviors and choices more clearly. 

Check out The Family Money Tree course to dig deep into your family tree and understand how this has impacted your money beliefs today. 

Lastly, learn to listen to your money fears and attend to the legitimate things beneath those fears. Have an emergency savings account or investment plan. Learn to differentiate those legitimate needs from the catastrophic fears which leave you paralyzed. 

You can learn how to face money fear head-on with a financial therapist, money, money coaching, or reading books on how to understand yourself and your behaviors around money. In my soon to be released book, The Healthy Love and Money Way, you’ll learn all about how trauma, family of origin, and attachment style impact your relationship with money and your partner.

Curious About Your Attachment Style? 

Take the Attachment Style Quiz now and learn how it impacts your relationships, finances, and life!