We all have things we ignore out of fear. Maybe we don’t call our loved ones enough, or don’t take care of our bodies the way we should. No matter the reason, we often view it as easier to turn a blind eye to what’s plaguing us, than to face it head on.
While there are some things you can get away with ignoring, your finances do not fall into that category. When it comes to money, fearful inaction can quickly translate into disaster.
If you’re ignoring debt collectors, forcefully forgetting that your savings account exists, spending beyond your means, or avoiding the tough conversations with your significant other, it’s time to tackle this issue, but in a way that will set you up to make the small steps towards change that are needed. Read on for some tips on facing your money fears.
The Fear of Losing It All
Anyone who remembers the financial crisis of 2008 will remember stories of people losing their retirement savings. That kind of fear has discouraged many from investing in the stock market or led to an overly-conservative investment approach.
Unfortunately, acting on a fear of losing it all can make it impossible for you to save enough money for retirement. If your fear prevents you from investing your money due to loss, it’s time to talk to a trusted professional to weigh the pros and cons of your options and design an allocation that can work for you. If you’re young, chances are investing in the equity market (stocks) is necessary for you to build a significant nest egg, especially if retirement is in the distant future. Even splitting your shares 50-50 between stocks and bonds is only a good idea for those already in their 40s and 50s, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It’s normal to be anxious about your investments – that’s where a qualified financial planner can help. They can guide you in choosing low-risk index funds and calm your fears if the market has a bad day.
The Fear of Looking Stupid
So many people avoid facing their financial fears because they feel stupid for putting things off so long , ashamed for being in debt, or embarrassed for not having a retirement plan or a respectable savings account. I’ve talked to countless women who beat themselves up for simply not feeling educated enough to ask the right questions about their investments and finances.
Instead of feeling guilty, remind yourself that there’s nothing more empowering than taking control of your life. The majority of Americans don’t have nearly enough socked away for a rainy day – or for their golden years. If you’re starting to think seriously about your finances, you’re already a step ahead of your peers. In addition, when it comes to your hard earned money, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Refrain from starting a question with “this may be a silly question, but…” or “this may be stupid to ask, but…” and simply state what you’re curious about. You are entitled to as complete and thorough of an education around your money as you’d like.
Related: How to Take the Reins of Your Financial Literacy
The Fear of Asking for More
One of the most pervasive fears, especially for women, is the fear of negotiating for more money. If you’re going to succeed financially, better pay is crucial to paying off debt, saving money and building a nest egg for retirement.
Some people worry that asking for a raise, promotion or bonus makes them look greedy. That fear can cost you hundreds of thousands over the course of your career, and limit any momentum you build. Each time you don’t negotiate, you risk losing money.
The fear of negotiation is understandable but unnecessary. Most bosses are used to their employees negotiating and won’t be offended when you try. As long as you’re confident in your skills and performance, there’s no reason you shouldn’t ask for more. Try practicing with a friend until you get comfortable.
The Fear of Facing Your Debt
When you have debt, it’s easy to make minimum payments and avoid taking an honest look at what you owe. But living in ignorance could cost you thousands.
The more you learn about your debt, the more you’ll find ways to pay it off faster. For example, you could transfer your credit card balance to a card with 0% interest so you can pay it off faster (but note this only works IF you pay it off before the interest rate rises out of the promotion period. If you don’t have the discipline, don’t do the balance transfer). Some student loan lenders provide a discount on interest if you set up auto-pay. Refinancing your mortgage could also save you years off your loan term.
But none of that will happen if you don’t investigate and ask.
It’s always easier to live in the dark, but facing your fears could decrease your anxiety and stress while increasing the size of your bank account. It’s a win-win, and all you have to do is step up to the plate.