Fear drives us… to inaction.
It’s a bit counterintuitive. The actual purpose that the emotion of fear is intended to have is that it produces an adrenaline rush inside of us. This adrenaline rush allows us to use the “fight or flight” method in the face of some impending danger. The trouble is, the impending dangers we foresee in our financial lives – large amounts of credit card debt or student loans, lack of retirement savings or life insurance protection, or an entrapping desire to keep up with the Jones’s – can’t be solved by physicality. Hence we sit in our fear, and make no progress towards minimizing our impending financial dangers. The result? More fear.
So what is one to do when they are consumed by these fears about their finances? It’s simple. Just stop.
Stop thinking about what will become of you if you don’t start saving for retirement. Stop thinking about what will happen if you get “found out” that all of your things own you more than you own them. Stop worrying about all the senseless debt you’ve piled up over the years. Just stop.
However, stopping isn’t enough. It’s just the first step.
If you don’t want to slide right back into the same suffocating lifestyle, then you have to take action. You have to start learning what you need to do to live a financially sound life and then start doing it. After you’ve stopped, you have to start.
Start reading personal finance blogs. Start listening to personal finance podcasts. Start reading personal finance books. The more you engulf yourself in smart financial habits, the more appealing they will sound and the easier it will become for you to start living that way.
And you will probably find that the advice you’re reading or hearing sounds a lot like common sense. That’s because it is. If you want to get out of debt you have to pay it off. If you want to have savings then you have to save. If you don’t want your stuff to own you then you need to control your spending and live within your means. Stop comparing yourself to others who have more than you and start thinking about what you really need and want in life. I’m sure that financial peace and contentment rank much higher on your list than a lifestyle that makes you look wealthy and successful.
Fear and worry can be the most paralyzing forces in people’s financial lives. But the road map to escape them is simple:
Stop. Then Start.