Five Ways to Cope With Financial Anxiety

Financial anxiety is defined as feelings of worry, stress or uneasiness about your financial situation. A variety of factors can trigger financial anxiety, from job loss to increased cost of living, but the compounding events of 2020 have arguably seen more people confronted with financial anxiety than ever.

The question of how to manage financial anxiety isn’t an easy one. Thankfully, addressing that you’re experiencing financial anxiety is the first step to overcoming it, and in this article we’re sharing five helpful ways to manage your financial worries.

1. Establish where you’re really at

It can feel scary and initially more stressful, but taking the time to establish what your black-and-white financial position looks like can actually take a weight off your shoulders. Figuring out a baseline for your personal finances gives you something to work from when you’re trying to make changes, especially if you’re goal is to manage debt. Often, worrying about something we don’t fully understand is worse than the actual reality. Sit down with your bank accounts, and list out everything you have, and everything you owe, what’s coming in and what’s going out. Getting clear on what’s really happening is the first step to tackling your feelings.

It’s important to remember that your anxious feelings don’t have to coexist with your financial reality. It’s easy to think that you won’t kick your money worries until your financial situation improves. In fact, you may be able to accelerate a feeling of financial calm simply by addressing the situation and setting a plan for moving forward.

2. Focus on the immediate future

Sometimes it can feel like there’s just too much to do, causing anxiety to spiral. This can leave us burying our heads in the sand and taking no action at all, pushing us further and further underwater. If you want to relieve your feelings of financial anxiety, make a plan for just the next 30 days. What’s coming in, what can be paid, and what’s left? By starting this process of putting one foot in front of the other, you can allow your mind to focus on other things and enjoy life while still managing your financial concerns.

3. Take small action steps

Find small action steps you can take to feel better about your financial situation. Whether that’s beginning to list old household items on Facebook Marketplace to free up some cash, or researching jobs or income opportunities to increase your liquidity, finding activities that help you feel in control can be transformative for your mindset, and remind you that change is possible.

4. Be open with creditors

Ignoring payments and contact from creditors places us in a cycle of ignorance and shame. Whether it’s an energy provider or a financial institution, if you’re struggling with debt, try having an open and honest conversation about your circumstances. As we all face the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, where possible, be open with your creditors, and let them know when you can pay. Again, facing the issue and establishing a solution with your bank or provider can take the pressure off and help you set a realistic plan to get back on track.

5. Seek mental health support

Financial stress and mental health are intrinsically linked. While financial counseling can’t change your financial situation, it can help with the associated feelings of stress and anxiety that comes with money worries. Oftentimes, we transfer our money worries into other areas of our life or self-worth, or inflate our worries beyond the scope of the real problem. You might find it helpful to talk to your family members about your financial stress. However, sometimes bringing up your financial problems and your resulting mental health to your family and friends can be hard which is why speaking to a financial counselor or mental health professional can help you manage the emotional weight of financial anxiety, and see things more clearly.

For personal assistance, you can contact the following organizations or Google what resources are available in your country. You could also consider speaking to your GP about what mental health resources you can access.

New Zealand




Emma Edwards Profile Image

Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.

Related articles

8 Bad Money Habits You Can Overcome Today
Our friend Ruth Henderson, The Happy Saver shares eight bad money habits she sees too often. Many of these habits are not about dollars and cents, but more about our own behaviour.
How to Get Out of Debt
‘Getting out of debt’ is a phrase used often in personal finance. Whether it’s credit card debt, medical debt, or any other kind of debt, ridding yourself of that burden is the first step to securing your financial future. Of course, it’s easier said than done, so here are some tips on how to get out of debt with PocketSmith.
How Mindful Spending Can Transform The Way You Manage Your Money
Have you ever been in a situation where you have no idea how you spent your paycheck? Your bank account seems to be healthy at the start of the week, and by the end, you’re struggling to pay the bills? The Broke Generation’s Emma Edwards shares how mindful spending can help you feel more in control and confident with your money.