Can you imagine what your life would be like if worrying about money is no longer part of it?
Forget the opulence of footballers’ mansions, the private jets of the ultra-rich and making enough money to last you hundred life spans.
Sure, it would be nice. Still, this is not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about the dreams of riches and excess spread by Hollywood into which escapists and fantasists buy wholeheartedly.
In our very private moments, most of us have simple dreams when it comes to money and life. We want to stop worrying about money and live lives of meaning, fulfilment and contentment.
Is this so much to want?
No. This is a worthy dream and you can make it happen; you can stop worrying about money and live your life on your own terms. Yet there is a part of you that doubts, that keeps asking:
Could this be possible?
Yes, it is.
But before we go any further, you must ask yourself whether you have what it takes to change your ways with money or you are contented with being a money failure.
You also need to recognise that not worrying about money has very little to do with how much money you have. I know people who are worth millions and still worry whether this is enough; and I know people who have very little and never worry about money.
Dreaming about being free of money worries is awesome. But dreams are, after all, two for penny and you, and me, live in the ‘real’ world, right? We live in a world where dreams are dreams but your bills are still staring you in the face when you wake up, right?
Well, it seems you should hear this….
How I stopped worrying about money
My gut was in a painful knot and I was restlessly pacing the hotel room. It was October 2009, approximately 3.45 am. Incidentally, it was also three days after my husband told me that we had £100,000 (approx. $160,000) consumer debt.
Pacing a room, feeling sick with worry about money, was nothing new to me. Heck, by this watershed night in October 2009, I had been worrying about money for well over twenty years.
When I was young, and doing my Doctoral studies, I worried about paying the rent and surviving till next pay-day. (Often, I survived by pawning my typewriter; this were the days.)
Later I worried about:
- the mortgage;
- my husband leaving his job;
- how much we pay for our holidays;
- our children’s future; and
As if this wasn’t enough my worrying about money spilled over to include my parents, my sister, my niece and…
Well, my worrying about money became universal and abstract.
Having realised exactly how much in debt we were, went beyond worry. I was terrified, and my mind drew images of my son living in a 19th century poverty and deprivation.
By November 2009, my worrying about money was making me ill. I couldn’t eat, sleep or plan. All I did was blame my husband (not entirely justified) and tear up every time I looked at my young son.
Fast forward to March 2010 and worrying about money had been replaced by the determination to change our financial path.
What changed so I stopped worrying about money?
Great; thought you’d never ask.
You see, worry is an emotional state brought about by three things:
- Ignorance; and
When it comes to money, this means that worrying about money has very little to do with how much money we have and all to do with our beliefs, fears, knowledge and actions regarding money.
It took me six months to move from:
‘Thinking about money makes me shake worse than an alcoholic before his first drink’
‘Hell, yes! I’m a fearless money ninja ready to build wealth or die trying.’
These are the steps I used to stop worrying about money and start building serious wealth.
#1. I found ways to cope with the uncertainty around debt and money
Many believe we cope with uncertainty by increasing the level of certainty in our lives.
We cope with uncertainty by convincing our subconsciousness that we will survive never mind what life throws at us and developing the competencies necessary to navigate uncertainty; even thrive on it.
In my case, coping with uncertainty took the following:
- Affirmations every night before going to sleep. I kept repeating ‘everything will be just fine’ until my eyelashes gently rang from tiredness. (Sounds weird, I know, but it works.)
- Developed an open minded and flexible attitude. This is not about accepting everything that come your way but about looking at what comes and adjusting your behaviour accordingly.
- Found a certainty anchor. When you swim in a sea of uncertainty, you need to be able to hold onto something. For me, it was my love (son and husband) and the determination to pay off all debt as soon as possible.
You’ll need to play around with the specifics here – these would be different for different people.
The important thing is to realise that you don’t want certainty; you need to look for your ways to cope with uncertainty.
So, I worried about money, I was terrified of the debt and I knew very little about our financial situation.
You see, ignorance increases the level of uncertainty and makes you worry more about things.
What I did?
I dealt away with my ignorance about money generally and our financial situation, more specifically.
I worked out what we earn and what we spend to the pound. I figured out where we waste money, how we can do what we do cheaper and what we don’t want to spend money on by using the ERR money management system.
I also learned something very important:
The only number that matters in personal finance is your monthly cash flow.
But I didn’t learn only about personal finance.
I learned about cooking, nutrition and exercise.
I learned about index funds, value investing, dividend investing and all things about investing that a beginner should know.
I learned about how to make money.
And I learned about business and how to invest in businesses.
By the time I was finished with my ignorance, my knowledge gave me solidity and my learning never ended.
When I worried about money most, I did least to change my money situation.
So, I started doing things.
I checked bank balances.
I wrote a money diary.
I hustled like a woman possessed.
(I still do all that.)
You see, friend, five months are not enough to change dramatically your money situation.
Five months are more than enough to stop worrying about money and start turning your money predicament into a problem that can be solved.
Seven years, on the other hand, should be enough to change your money situation.
Where do I stand today?
Well, friend, I certainly don’t worry about money and haven’t done so for years. We also went, between January 2010 and January 2018, from £100,000 worth of consumer debt to over £250,000 in new investments.
I doubt this would have been possible were I still worried about money.
Most of us spend our lives worrying about money: we either worry about getting enough to sustain our lives or worry about keeping it, growing it and making it last.
Worrying about money has little to do with how much we have; it comes from feelings of uncertainty, ignorance and failure to act.
You can either continue having sleepless nights worrying about money or try these steps, leave your money worries behind and turn your life and finances around – it is entirely up to you.