Hello, my name is Allison and I suffer from depression and anxiety. You might be surprised to read this sentence on a financial blog. In fact, I cannot tell you how many times I sat here in my room and retyped that same sentence over and over again. Do I just come right out and say it? Or do I lead in with some sort of story? And what are the consequences of putting myself out there for everyone to know the real me? What if they judge me? These questions have been flooding my mind, but I have decided that I want to be real with you. I want you to know the true me, not a highlighted version of myself.
So yes, I do struggle with depression and anxiety. I have since I was 13 years old. If you know me in real life this might surprise you. Anytime someone learns about my internal struggles, they always say the same thing “But you always seem so happy!” Yep, I can fake it all right! Just because I appear to smile as you pass me in the grocery store doesn’t always mean that all is well. However, I am happy to say that after living with depression and anxiety for 18 years, I have learned what I need in order to be mentally healthy. Right now that looks like the right dose of medication as well as an amazing therapist.
But it wasn’t always that way. I didn’t always know what I needed to conquer the thoughts that loomed in my mind. I didn’t know what I needed in order to rationalize with the version of myself that questioned everything. The version of myself that let fear take over.
You may be wondering why I’m opening up about this here. Why on this slice of the internet that I call my home? The answer is simple: I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one that has anxiety that is triggered by an unstable financial life. There are others out there that stay up at night, tossing and turning, worrying about the unknown. I’ve been there! For YEARS my anxiety surrounded our finances. As soon as we were hit with an unexpected expense, I could feel it creeping up. The anxiety would hit and the depression would set in.
I’m very sensitive to financial struggles, and when we were newlyweds we weren’t in the best place financially. I knew my husband didn’t quite understand, although I give him major props for trying. He learned the words to help calm me down and bring me back to reality. Yes, the car broke down, but it’s going to be okay. Yes, we are short on our escrow, but we will find a way to get the money. Although my husband was my rock, I knew that I couldn’t always rely on him to help calm my anxiety when it came to our money. So I started putting systems in place to help keep my anxiety away.
I want to preface this by saying that these safeguards might not help you. But they did help me. And if you struggle with anxiety or depression that is related to money, then they might be worth a try!
Build up your savings.
When we first started paying off debt, we drained our savings to $1,000. I soon realized that only having $1,000 in savings was just not enough for me. In my mind, I continued to run through all the scenarios that would cost us more than $1,000. My anxiety was high all the time! After months of living like this, I was miserable. That’s when we decided to increase our savings while we were paying off debt. Instead of the recommended $1,000 we had $1,000 per person in our family. That meant that while we were a family of three, we had $3,000 in savings. Then when we had our youngest son, we increased our savings to $4,000. Once we finished paying off our $111,000 worth of debt (read more about that here), we saved even more! I learned that the more I had in savings, the less anxiety I had.
Keep a car maintenance or home maintenance fund.
If you have anxiety surrounding unexpected expenses, then you definitely need to set up a car maintenance and home maintenance fund! There is no secret that cars break. And if you own your home, then something in that is going to break too! Instead of relying on your regular savings account to cover those unexpected expenses, consider creating a separate sinking fund for each of these categories. For some reason, I had (and still have) intense anxiety surrounding our cars. There have been times when my husband’s car broke and we didn’t have enough money to fix it completely. If you’ve been in this same situation, then you know how frustrating it can be! Setting aside even an extra $50 each month for any future car or home expenses might just lessen your anxiety. It’s worth a try! Learn more about sinking funds HERE.
Get on the same page with your spouse.
The more your spouse knows about your struggles, the more they will be able to help when you’re anxious, depressed, or worried about your finances. It took my husband time to learn just how to help me when I’m depressed or anxious. He’s learned through trial and error what to say and what not to say when I’m going through a hard time. He’s learned a kind way to tell me that I’m being irrational and that my anxiety has kicked in. This didn’t happen overnight! It took time for us to learn how to communicate effectively.
But what helped us learn how to communicate was when we discussed my anxiety when I was calm. My husband and I talked about ways that he could be supportive in my low moments. As time went on, we learned what worked! Getting on the same page with your spouse also gives them the opportunity to have empathy and more understanding of what you are going through.
Know what makes you anxious.
If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or depression for a while, then hopefully you know yourself well enough to know when you’re heading in a downward spiral. Over the years, I’ve learned what triggers will bring on my anxiety or depression. Of course, there are still times when it comes out of nowhere, but most of the time I know why I am anxious or sad. And because I HATE feeling that way, I’ve put measures in place to prevent those feelings.
For instance, I know that when my checking account gets low, my anxiety starts to kick in. What if I’ve forgotten about a bill on auto draft and it’s going to clear our account? What if we overdraft? Oh no! I need to run to the grocery store but I don’t have enough money! And what happens if my husband swipes the debit card because he forgot that we are down to $17.82 in our checking account?
Unfortunately, these thoughts have a way of taking over my mind. Although I’m currently working on managing my mind (that will have to be an entire article of its own!), I am not immune to anxious thoughts. Because of this, I have decided that I never want our checking account to get below $100. It keeps my anxiety in check and overall I’m a happier person. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a better mood, I’m a better wife and mom.
Ask for help!
If you suffer from anxiety and depression and you aren’t sure how to help yourself, then PLEASE reach out to someone for help. Whether you turn to a therapist, doctor, or loved one, I promise that you don’t have to feel this way all the time. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve been in the place where I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’ve had feelings take over my mind and I couldn’t distinguish reality from fear. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to not only find what helps me but also learn what I can do to prevent anxiety surrounding my finances!
Know your money situation. Like, for real!
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “the truth will set you free.” This rings true with your money as well! The more you know about your finances and money, the better prepared you will be when unexpected expenses head your way. Chances are you’re aware that you should be budgeting and taking control of your money, but you might not know where to begin. Well, that’s where I come in! I have made it my mission in life to help people just like you learn how to budget, make saving second nature, and pay off debt! I’ve even created a FREE email course that will get you started. Plus, it comes with 14 pages of printables that you won’t want to pass up! Learn more information about my Budgeting Basics Email Course or sign up below!