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Feeling anxious about money? 5 financial therapists share their expert advice

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  • Knowing your income, expenses, and deductions is crucial for financial well-being.
  • Overcoming money avoidance and shame is essential for progress.
  • Align financial objectives with personal values to cultivate a positive relationship with money.

Money is more than just numbers; it's deeply emotional. Financial stress is a widespread issue, with 63% of Americans and a third of UK adults reporting significant anxiety about their finances. This stress is particularly acute among younger adults, with 82% of Americans aged 18 to 34 feeling the pressure. The reasons are multifaceted, ranging from economic instability to a lack of financial education. However, financial therapy offers a path to understanding and alleviating this anxiety.

The Roots of Financial Anxiety

Financial anxiety often stems from a combination of economic factors and personal experiences. In the US, high inflation has clouded economic perspectives, while the UK faces a cost of living crisis. Beyond these external pressures, many people were never formally educated about money, leading to financial behaviors based on observation rather than knowledge. Dr. Aci Williams, a clinical psychologist and financial therapist, notes that many individuals fail to recognize the link between their upbringing, beliefs, and financial behaviors.

The Role of Financial Therapy

Financial therapy, a field established in 2008, aims to help individuals develop a healthier relationship with money. The Financial Therapy Association (FTA) was founded to standardize the practice and advance the profession. Financial therapists combine psychological and financial expertise to address the emotional aspects of money management.

Expert Advice from Financial Therapists

Understand Your Financial Basics

Dr. Aci Williams emphasizes the importance of understanding the basics: income, expenses, and deductions. Confronting and honestly assessing one's financial situation is the first step towards financial well-being.

Address Money Avoidance and Shame

Conversations about money avoidance and shame are common among clients, according to Staley, a certified financial therapist and family therapist. Overcoming shame and exploring the root causes of financial baggage is essential for progress.

Identify and Change Money Scripts

Money scripts are ingrained financial behaviors learned from family and friends. Identifying these scripts can illuminate areas for growth and change, helping individuals develop healthier financial habits.

Create Simple and Consistent Financial Plans

While detailed financial plans are important, simplicity and consistency are key. Starting with manageable tasks like daily tracking of income and expenses can alleviate anxiety and promote financial awareness. Flexibility in budgeting is crucial, especially when unexpected expenses arise.

Set Clear Financial Objectives

Reflecting on personal relationships with money and setting clear financial objectives aligned with values is vital. A healthy financial relationship is one where money serves as a tool to achieve goals without overwhelming mental space. Envisioning a future aligned with meaningful aspirations can cultivate a positive and purpose-driven approach to managing finances.

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