For my 40th birthday, my husband bought me exactly what I wanted — a beautiful yellow, vintage styled Huffy bicycle with a basket, a cup holder and a bell on the handlebars. My heart had longed for one for years.
And now, it was finally mine. I could ride around town, even hit the Starbucks a mile from my house, on my own set of beautiful wheels.
But I must admit the very first time I took her for a spin, I was intimidated by my new bike. It really didn’t make any sense. After all, I’d spent years as a child pedaling my bike up and down the street. As an adult, I’d become an accomplished road cyclist, even riding 160 miles across the state of Indiana in one day. The phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike!” rolled through my head again and again. What was I so afraid of?
My irrational cycling nerves nearly got the best of me. What if I couldn’t stop? I hadn’t ridden without handbrakes in years. What if I wrecked and ruined the happy paint job? Or worse, what if I broke my leg? Each worst case scenario scampered through my mind’s eye. In that moment, I had a choice to make. I could park the bike, saving that inaugural ride for another day. Or, I could choose to put my feet on the pedals and move.
With the wind whipping through my hair and a spirit of full abandonment, I moved through the neighborhood effortlessly. Music streamed from my phone (did I mention that it has a holder for my phone, too?!) as I zipped along the quiet street enjoying the view and the freedom of perpetual motion.
Warranted or not, we all daily face fears. And while there are an assortment of ways for us to respond to fears, both healthy and unhealthy, not dealing with what we’re afraid of always leads to a dead end. I know this to be true not just in my bicycling pursuits but also in the ways that I deal with money, too. If money fears have led you down a path of indecision or not dealing with reality, you aren’t alone.
The majority of Americans — a whopping 64 percent, regardless of income level — say they’re significantly stressed when it comes to money. Those numbers climb higher among parents, young adults and those in lower socioeconomic brackets. Whether their fears are founded, we all need ways to cope with our fears when it comes to managing money.
These tips might not erase every bit of unease, but they can help you get a good handle on your money and your emotions at the same time.
Some of us worry about money legitimately because we don’t have a good handle on what we have or what we owe. Fight back that fear by taking control of the situation. You may be completely unaware, having not balanced the checkbook in years. Or you might be limping along, making minimum payments without a full knowledge of how much you owe.
When my husband Brian began casting the vision for us to get out of $127,000 in consumer debt, I had no idea that we owed that much money in total. You can use the free printable budget forms on Queen of Free (queenoffree.net/free-printables) to begin organizing your money and tracking your spending.
Ask for help
Confession is good for the soul. However, confessing your money fears to someone might not be enough. You may need another human and maybe even a professional to help you sort through your current circumstances. If your spending is out of control, you need an encouraging voice in your life helping you combat temptation.If you don’t know how you’re going to make ends meet, you need someone to light your path. Whether it’s reaching out to a family member or pastor or finding a certified financial planner, asking for help will put your feet on the right path.
I strongly believe our money habits and money fears are outcroppings of the states of our souls. While it might seem cliche or dismissive to say you need to pray about your financial condition, you do. Prayer and/or meditation can help you to begin to release the fears you’re harboring when it comes to money.
Fears can be quelled when we recount what we already have. Listing your blessings again may seem a flimsy way to fight fear; however, it’s an effective weapon to battle comparison and the panic that can come from thinking we don’t have enough.While you’re inventorying your blessings, your eyes may also be opened to ways you can either repurpose what you already have or sell a few things to be able to stabilize the condition of your finances.
Most (but not all) money problems can be resolved in one of two ways. 1) Reduce your spending and lifestyle. 2) Make more money.
You may even need to do both at the same time. Taking charge of your money and telling it where to go rather than wondering where it went requires a shift in attitude and behavior.
Fighting your fear may require you to move, to get a new job, to be more intentional in the kitchen, to pick up a second job, to kill poor habits. Becoming sick and tired of your situation just might be the catalyst you need to get hungry and take the next step.
Some of the fears I had about riding my bike were grounded in reality. I hadn’t ridden that particular style of bike since I was a kid. It felt new and different. My feet were unsure. And yet, the majority of my fear lay in an unknown, mysterious sense of my own inability.
I had ridden a bike before. I was physically up to the task. The combination of both rational and irrational fear could have paralyzed me. Fighting through those fears allowed me to experience an exhilarating sensation I hadn’t had in years.
Every week, you can find me zipping to and fro on my beautiful yellow cruiser, enjoying the sunshine and the thrill of the ride. In the same way, when you take steps toward battling your internal money fears, you’ll begin to feel a similar release. You might even begin to manage your money so well that it brings you a similar feeling of joy and freedom.