If I told you I thought you had chrometophobia, would you give me a weird look and start backing away slowly? Although it’s not a medical condition people discuss often, chrometophobia is a real thing. It’s an irrational fear of money.
A fear of money can take many forms, but what it usually boils down to is this: an unwillingness to face the facts when it comes to spending and saving habits. In extreme cases, it can mean panic attacks when the bills arrive in the mail or even an aversion to the physical presence of money.
While we might not have a diagnosed case of chrometophobia, most of us, at some time or another, have had some money fears.
Lack of Openness
Money tends to be a taboo topic to a lot of people. We’re not supposed to discuss openly how much we make, how much we owe, or what we spent on a particular item. All that secrecy tends to cloak money in a way that makes it seem mysterious and a little frightening.
While I’m not encouraging you to brag about your income level, I am encouraging you to be more open when it comes to money. Don’t be afraid to look at what you make or what you owe dead on.
Take the time to compare the two so that you can clearly see if something is amiss. If your debt is so substantial that you feel you’ll have to work two lifetimes to pay it off, something needs to change.
Getting over a fear of money might mean you need to find someone to talk to about your concerns. A financial counselor or advisor who can give you worthwhile advice is a good place to start.
You can also discuss your concerns with your partner or with a family member you trust, though I’d advise you to take care in that case. Sometimes the money advice of loved ones is more harmful than helpful.
You Work Hard for Your Money
Some people have a fear of spending money because they feel they worked very hard to get it. While saving money is always a good idea, you also need to spend it from time to time.
For example, you can’t continue to wear a suit that’s easily two sizes too small. When your shoes wear out, you’ll need to shell out to get a new pair.
One way to overcome a fear of spending money that’s linked to your hard work is to think of spending wisely as a way of celebrating your hard work.
You spend 40 hours a week, if not more, at your job. You deserve the opportunity to celebrate from time to time, or at the very least, the opportunity to wear a suit that fits and to own a pair of shoes that keep out dirt and water.
Concern About Overspending
Another reason why people worry about spending their money is that they fear they will spend so much, they won’t have any money to pay for the things they really need or to handle an emergency.
You definitely don’t want to blow the money you need to pay for a car repair on a new pair of shoes you don’t need. It is preferable to be cautious about spending your money than to throw all caution to the wind. But, your fear of overspending can get in the way of the rest of your life.
If worrying about a major catastrophe keeps you from purchasing items you do need to live comfortably, think about setting up an emergency fund. Your fund should ideally cover six to eight months of living expenses.
If your car breaks down, the fund should have enough money to cover repairs. Think of your emergency fund as your grown-up security blanket. Anytime you feel an attack of your money phobia coming on, just think of your emergency savings and you should start to calm down.
One final reason why people have a fear of money: they don’t understand it. A lot of money terms can make financial matters seem more complicated than they actually are. Investing in stocks and mutual funds can be downright confusing for absolute beginners.
When engaging in any sort of complicated financial transactions, such as taking out a mortgage, read the paperwork carefully. Then, feel free to ask questions about any terms or conditions you don’t understand.
Jargon and wording can make money matters seem more inaccessible that they really are. Working with people who know their stuff when it comes to money matters and being willing to ask questions will help you get over your fear of the “M word.”
Of course, while you don’t want a fear of spending money to rule your life, you also don’t want to completely throw caution to the wind when it comes to money matters. Don’t fear money so much that you can’t enjoy life, but also, don’t be so carefree with your money that you spend yourself out of house and home.
Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.