Financial Anxiety


Financial stress and anxiety is reportedly effecting 50% of Australians to the point that they feel that this concern is effecting their wellbeing and relationships. This represents the single most important stressor on human wellbeing, second to things like divorce, grief, relationship breakdowns, or moving house.

Although you can find lots of help around how to manage your finances (things like budgeting, writing down financial goals, getting rid of sources of debt, making realistic goals for savings, etc) these can have no effect on spending habits if the underlying psychological issues are not addressed successfully.

Although we can all benefit from the practical application of the above techniques to manage our money they are usually defeated by how we perceive money in our lives. There is also an emotional factor attached to our perception of money. Dr. Brad Klontz, a Clinical Psychologist and Financial Planner and personal friend in the United States, has spent the last decade studying the psychological issues relating to how individuals perceive and consequently spend their money.

Dr. Klontz started with asking the question, "how do we develop out understanding or relationship with money?" It was his opinion that, like most things, our first teachers in this area are our parents. I am sure we all can recall hearing things like the following from our parents. "money doesn't grow on trees", "money is the root of all evil", "money has only one purpose, to be spent", "why save money? You cant take it with you", "do you think I am made of money?", "wealth is the result of corruption", etc. I'm sure that you can think of sayings that your parents used when you were growing up relating to the spending of money. Dr. Klontz calls these our "money scripts." Money scripts are the narratives that drive our relationship with money. Essentially these early teachings form our psychological relationship with money. Both negative and positive and this then informs our spending patterns.

If an individual holds to the idea that money is hard to come by (money doesn't grow on trees) then that individual will be frugal and might be considered to be a "tight wad." They will weigh every purchase against need with sometimes their needs neglected in the face or saving a few pennies.

On top of this we have a consumer society where we find that we must keep up with the "jonses" by having the latest car, live in the best suburbs, have the latest phones, designer clothes, etc. All this giving us a sense of improved self esteem and feelings of success. The pressure on the individual relating to finances is extreme.

Further, money is used as a tool. We use it to express our love, manipulative others, feel more important than others, comfort us when we are feeling bad (retail therapy) and to make people obligated to us.

Additionally, finances may play a role in our relationship with our partners. Love brings us together but (along with other possibilities) money can tear us apart.  Dr. Klontz has coined a term called "financial infedelity."  By this he means that when individuals in a relationship bring to that relationship different attitudes regarding money, problems occur. He indicates that what starts to take place are small lies relating to the spending of money. Hubby decides that he would like to get a drone. Its expensive and he knows that his wife will not approve of his "fetish for all things electronic." He reasons that the money they have is as much his as it is hers and he feels justified in buying the drone. But.... he doesnt want to fight with his wife about it so he finds a way to buy the drone without his wife knowing about it. The same can be said re the wife. This brings about problems in the relationship. Undermining the trust between the couple. Suspicions abound and tension in the relationship grows.

So... getting your finances in order based on the idea of a better budgeting strategy, or consolidating your debts, isnt going to be enough to address the problem unless the core psychological issues aren't taken into account and addressed.

If you are suffering from financial anxiety, then click on the button at the top right of this page to make an appointment.

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