Fear holds you back from achieving so many goals in life. As a woman, you face a lot of fears. The fear of not being good enough, being too good, not achieving anything, being seen as snobby, getting married to the wrong person, not getting married, being harassed, not dressing a certain way, just to mention a few.
We also have money fears on top of it all. Money fears can stem from childhood traumas or even creep on us as adults. Just like having witnessed domestic violence, you might have also seen someone close to you lose everything. You might harbour the feeling that it could also happen to you and carry it around as a fear for a long time. But because we are an empowered generation, we chose to take our power. We choose to overcome our fears and step out to be counted as different. Black women are creative and are known to conquer even the most challenging issues, so facing our money fears will not be different.
The year is still fresh and, just like me, you may still be in the mood to pursue your new year’s resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions, second only to hitting the gym, is to gain financial freedom. To achieve this, you must conquer your money fears and build a relationship with your money. You might be thinking, how can I be afraid of money? Well, you may not be afraid of the actual money, but you might be afraid of not having enough to sustain your lifestyle, losing your job, or losing everything you have accumulated so far. We walk around with fears in regards to money. Most of us are scared when it comes to money. Some of these fears have been intensified following the season of breaking during the pandemic period. This has led us to avoidance altogether. We avoid money discussions and some even avoid spending in the fear of depleting what we have accumulated.
However, though fear is a natural phenomenon, you do not have to allow it to control your spending or saving habits. You must have the courage to face your fears. Just like any other fear you may have, once your money fears are resolved, you will start to enjoy the freedom of being set free. I have highlighted some common money fears and possible ways to help you conquer these fears.
Having a large debt
If you live in Kenya, you might be aware of the large national debt we have managed to accrue as a family. What you might not be aware of is the large household debt that we have accrued over time. This means that many of us are not living debt-free. By December 2021, we had a household debt of Ksh 7,712,392.57. The country aside, are you aware of the debt you have so far? Looking at your total debt amount can be a bit intimidating, but what is even more disheartening is how much you accumulate in interest and late payment charges. When you add these charges to your total debt, the total amount ends up being even larger. Ignoring your debt does not make it go away. Paying it off does. Constantly missing the repayment dates also affects your credit score and lowers your loan limit, meaning you may not be able to borrow when you most need to.
Facing the debt with trepidation
You have admitted it yourself that you have a debt issue that needs to be sorted as soon as possible. The first course of action is to figure out how much you owe and to whom. From there, start by eliminating the debts that attract the highest interest rates first. This will enable you to save some money on the interest rate and even be able to pay off a larger portion of your debt. The alternative would be to get rid of your smaller debts first, for instance, mobile loan debts and debts from family and friends. Regardless of the strategy, you opt to use to clear your debt, having a working plan can help you on your journey to being debt-free. With time, as the debt reduces, you will not dread the days when the repayments are due.
Fear of unemployment
Surviving the pandemic period has left us confused when it comes to our jobs and even businesses. Nobody is certain about what will happen next. You might find the company you work for has been dissolved or you may experience severe pay cuts. It is no secret that financial instability can cause major stress. However, dwelling on the thought that you could potentially lose your job can cause you to be anxious. You might be spending time worrying about something that may never really happen. But you can start by preparing for the worst, which may, in turn, bring you relief.
Facing the fear of income loss
Worrying endlessly about different things will not take you far. What you need is to be smart with your money. You can start by budgeting accordingly for your wants, needs, and savings. This will help you to eliminate what you do not need from your budget and leave a lot left over to save. You can start by setting up an emergency fund that constitutes at least 6 months of your expenditure amount. You can always put aside a specific amount of money towards your emergency fund each month. That way, if anything were to happen to your finances, you would have a fund to fall back on.
Start Preparing for Retirement
It feels like a tall order to put money aside every month to cater to all the different things you have going on. Monthly bills, savings, debt repayments, and now retirement? It can be overwhelming for one person. However, do not be deceived into thinking that you still have a long way to go before you retire. Start planning for it early. You can put aside a few dollars from your income each month for the next couple of years in a savings account where it can earn compound interest. Eventually, that money can be used in retirement. Alternatively, if you are employed, you can liaise with your employer to pay part of your salary to the national retirement fund. It does not matter how small the amount is, consistently putting aside money will help you ease into retirement.
The fear of spending money
This is one of my greatest fears. I am a shopping addict. For some reason, I end up buying things I do not even need half the time. It has finally turned into a fear of spending. I budget so tightly that in the event of an emergency, I have nothing to spend. I hardly ever go out or buy anything for myself. If you are like me, living below your means can be a good thing, but on the other hand, it can drastically reduce your quality of life and even strain your relationships. You will appear to be an extremely stingy person.
Face your fears by sticking to a sustainable budget
Budgeting, contrary to popular belief, is meant to lower your stress levels. It will help you understand how much money you have at hand and how much is left in your account and for what purpose. The most popular budgeting method is using the 50, 30, and 20 rules. With this method, you can easily split what you need, want, and savings into different categories so it is manageable.
The fear of starting your financial freedom journey late
Maybe you have been overtaken by life events. You may already be a mother, and you have a household that depends fully on you for upkeep. You might be paying black tax through your nose and it feels like nothing is left to throw into an emergency fund or your retirement fund. Fear can hold you back and prevent you from achieving your financial goals, but you do not have to let it. It is never too late to start planning and making good financial decisions.
Face your fear of starting late
Granted, it can be overwhelming to balance everything in your life, pay all your bills, and have something left over to even manage. Start afresh. The year is still young and you can set some attainable money goals this year. You can adopt new habits like paying off your debts on time, saving, or budgeting.
Fear causes anxiety, which in turn steals your joy. When you harbour money fears, you can never live life to the fullest. The quality of your life is lower since you always have something pulling at your back. As the new year brings forth good tidings and opportunities, take time to reflect on your money habits and see which areas hold you back. Just like any other fear, your money fears can also be conquered.