For those of us who are safe in our bubbles, and stressed about money
Strange times we’re living in, yes? I hope you and yours are well and getting through the lock down days without too much difficulty.
I’m sure the first few days have been a little stressful, taken up with setting up new ways of working and communicating; possibly getting the kids settled in, and figuring out the shape of your days. If that’s all taken care of, then another stress may now be taking up more space in your mind:
What will happen to me financially?
Part of you may feel that it’s a first world problem to worry about money when there’s a worldwide pandemic happening. To that thought, I say, “Yes, some people have bigger problems than I do. That doesn’t mean I don’t have any problems. We are all taking steps to care for our loved ones, and be safe. I’m fortunate to be in a position where my immediate safety isn’t threatened. The obvious next step is to ensure the safety and security of me and my family in the near and distant future. Money is key to that.”
Besides, pushing away the question of what will happen to you financially will not work. Your brain will get started on the only thing you’ll let it do. It will worry. Often compulsively. Often going over the same facts, again and again. Your brain takes your survival very seriously. If you won’t give your full attention to a problem that’s tied up with your survival, then your brain frets in a futile attempt to find certainty, and to make sure you don’t forget any important details. Maybe waiting until you’re asleep, and then waking you up to do more worrying.
This is not helpful.
Worrying achieves nothing. But it is a useful sign that we feel threatened, and that we need to get as much clarity as we can about the situation that we’re in.
So, get clarity.
Find and record your numbers. How much do you anticipate spending in the next month? How much will you earn? How much money do you owe, and what are the repayments? Is there any money in your savings account?
Some of these will be uncertain. Exactly how much will you spend on food in the next month? Ummm… take your best shot. Will your work still be able to pay you? Ummm…. Get as much information as you can, estimate conservatively. When you can be exact, be exact.
I understand why people avoid doing this. Not only might it feel like an unworthy problem, but also it can be confronting to see the full picture. You may need to do this task in stages; take a break, talk to someone, put it out of your head while you do something else.
The thing is, now you can. Your brain will stop fretting. Once something is recorded, your brain no longer has to try to hold money-related information in your short-term memory. It will start working in a way that is actually helpful. When you have clarity around your financial situation, you’lll start figuring out the things you can do to improve it.
And you’re not alone in figuring that out. I’ll be putting ideas and resources in my next few blog posts.