"Don't Be So Hard On Yourself!" How To Deal With Money Anxiety

Illustration by Richard Chance
Some days, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of things there are to be anxious about. From climate change to Donald Trump, social media pressure to Brexit, add worrying about money into the mix and it's a wonder we're not all hiding in our rooms, rocking backwards and forwards.
Enter: Futureproof, a new podcast from millennial finance company Bud. Presented by BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ Jamz Supernova, it's a frank look at young people, their worries about money and what to do about them. So far they've featured gal-dem founder Liv Little (and her mum) on buying (or not buying) a house, BlackGirlFest's Nicole Crentsil on beating paycheque panic and, coming up this week, there's an episode on saving money and saving the planet featuring Jemma Finch from Stories Behind Things and Jenny Costa from Rubies in the Rubble.
Ahead, we spoke to Jamz all about her money worries and what she does to get rid.
What are some of the main anxieties you hear about money from young people?
I think it varies depending on where they are at. When you are 18 to in your early 20s like my siblings and some of the interns I’ve worked with, it’s about not having enough money, maybe they are starting out in their chosen career fields or working out what they want to do. Their paycheque doesn’t cover what they want to experience.
People in their mid 20s, I think they feel the wrath of generation rent. Are they able to move out of home, pay rent and keep up with that rent when it’s a majority of their paycheque? Not to mention the anxiety of having to get together a deposit on top of that! And then in their late 20s there’s anxiety around buying [a house]. Will they ever be able to? Can they save enough? What does their financial future look like?
I think an anxiety that unites young people is not feeling like they’re confident or 'good' with money and not being financially where they think they should be due to feeling the pressures of social media and comparison.
What are some good coping mechanisms you've learned that help deal with the mental strain of money?
I’ve personally used mindfulness around feeling stressed around money. It may sound wishy-washy but it’s been a help on my mental health. I used to write out positive affirmations about money, which helped change my outlook. As a freelancer I also tried to focus on what I could afford and pay for this month and a month ahead instead of worrying about what work would come in the future. It’s easier said than done but it definitely helped me not to add too much worry to financially strained times.
What’s your favourite saving tip?
Where possible, I would think about how much realistically you can save from your paycheque, it may only be 5% to begin with but get into the habit of keeping up with it. If you come into additional money during the month, ie. a tax rebate, birthday present, bonus, don’t think of it as your immediate money but put it straight in your savings.
Talk to people. A great piece of advice was from Nicole Crentsil who features on one of the Bud podcasts around paycheque anxiety. She made a great point: Use your bank, go in there, book a meeting and ask as many questions as you can. Don’t be afraid to come across stupid or silly, we’re all learning!
Check your bank balance regularly – don’t be scared, it’s important to know where you're at!
Why do you think we're so bad at talking about money?
I’m not [even] sure if I’m being completely honest. It could be down to being British and prudish. Another theory could be wealth disparity; there’s so much weight pitched against the haves and have nots. If people know where you lie on the spectrum of wealth they can make assumptions on you as a person and your identity. I also think the lack of education around money from a school age has a major part to play – we weren’t taught to talk about money so why would we now?
What tips have you got for opening up to friends and family and encouraging them to do the same?
In the early days of me freelancing and getting used to living on my own, when I used to go and see my dad it would take me the whole hour's drive home to be able to pluck up the courage to ask if he could help me out. I just remember the feeling of dread and shame.
His answer was always the same: If I can help, I will. And that’s how I am now with my younger sibling and family members. I think you have to understand that everyone has been where you have. I would recommend opening up sooner rather than later. Instead of letting it get far.
In regards to getting a family member or friend to open up, reassure them that you aren’t judging. Listen to them fully before you offer solutions.
What's the best way to get confident talking about money?
Not only to be confident in your own worth and value but get educated in what the going rate is for your job role and how that changes depending on how much experience you have. Talk to as many people in a similar field as possible to gauge what they’re earning. And go in with the facts. And just remember there will probably be someone before you and after you who will have the courage to ask for more and be working less! Fake it 'til you make it!
How do you stop feeling intimidated by people who have more money than you?
I think people need to be honest with themselves about their money and understanding where they are at and where they are trying to go. What does 'having money' genuinely mean to you and how can you achieve that? In the first Bud podcast, Katherine Ormerod made such a valid point: We didn’t all line up at the same starting point, there will always be people richer or poorer than you.
What would you say to those just getting to grips with managing their finances?
Don’t be so hard on yourself! We’re all going through various versions of money problems. But life is short, know when to save and allow yourself to spend. What’s the point in having money if you can’t enjoy it!

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