Tips to Help Overcome Financial Anxiety

Money worries getting you down? Follow these tips to help you deal with financial anxiety


Almost everyone worries about money from time to time. But what if you’re so worried that you’re losing sleep, lacking focus or unable to carry out normal tasks? 

Maybe you lost your job because of the coronavirus pandemic. Or you got hit with an unexpected medical expense. Whatever your situation, there are steps you can take to avoid obsessing over bills or sweating through payments. Read on for strategies to help you develop good habits with money and overcome financial anxiety. 

What Does Financial Anxiety Look Like?

To try to understand what you’re feeling, it might help to think about where you are on this financial well-being scale from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

According to the CFPB, your financial well-being could range from severe stress to high satisfaction. So if you’re not where you want to be, you may feel that

  • You can’t effectively manage your finances. If you’ve been recently unemployed or have gotten too far into debt, you might not be able to pay your bills on time or afford essentials. 
  • You’re badly prepared for emergencies. If you’ve been living from paycheck to paycheck, you might not have been able to save. This means you could struggle if faced with an unexpected expense or a financial emergency.
  • You lack confidence about the future. If you’re not budgeting or saving, you might not feel ready for retirement or other big moments like getting married or having kids.
  • You can’t enjoy living in the moment. If you’re using all your income to pay back loans or other debts, you might not have the resources you need to treat yourself. For example, you might miss out on taking a vacation or going back to school.

Thankfully, the CFPB says, it’s possible to improve your financial well-being. Read on for ways to deal with and overcome the negative feelings that might be causing your financial anxiety.

Ways to Deal With Financial Anxiety

It could take time to change your financial situation. And if you’re suffering from severe anxiety, you might want to consider seeking more information or professional help. But by focusing on the things you can control, you might be able to take small steps toward reducing the stress you feel. Here are six ways you can start:

1. Set Goals and Plan Ahead

Whether you’re planning for retirement in a few decades or a vacation in a few months, setting goals can help you get there.

When you plan in advance for a large purchase, it can help you better achieve your goals and reduce anxiety around the purchase. No matter how big or small your goals, the CFPB has tips to improve your financial well-being.

2. Build an Emergency Fund

You can start as small as you need to, but consider building an emergency fund. Having one in place could help you be better prepared and less stressed about unexpected things like car breakdowns, medical emergencies and job disruptions. 

3. Keep Track of Bills and Earnings

Understanding how money flows in and out of your household can make it easier to examine your spending and create a budget. Tracking your spending for a month is a good way to see just how much the small expenses can add up. These can prevent you from meeting your more important goals.

The CFPB has budgeting advice to help you analyze your cash flow and take control of your finances. And understanding your cost-of-living expenses can also help you make more-informed decisions about spending and saving.

4. Shop Carefully

If you’re having trouble balancing your budget, there are ways to reduce your spending and expenses. You’ll always need things like food, gas, clothes and toiletries. But the Federal Trade Commission has shopping tips to help you get the most for your money.

If you’re shopping online, you could check out Capital One Shopping. This free browser extension searches for available coupon codes and automatically applies the best it can find.1 

5. Understand Your Credit Score and Credit Reports

Understanding your credit reports and regularly monitoring your score can help you improve your creditworthiness. And seeing good progress is likely to motivate you to keep up the good financial behavior, according to the CFPB.

CreditWise from Capital One can help, too. It lets you monitor your credit for free. And it’s available to everyone, not just Capital One customers.2

6. Look for Help

If you suspect the coronavirus pandemic has caused or worsened your financial anxiety, you might find it helpful to check out government assistance for things like unemployment, mortgage and rent relief, and student loan forbearance.

And if you’re having trouble paying bills or loans, the CFPB recommends reaching out to creditors and lenders directly. They may be able to provide information or hardship options that can help. 

Don’t forget: You can explore mental health support for anxiety while you consider practical steps to improve your financial wellness.

The Importance of a Healthy Mindset

Setting goals, saving more and spending wisely are all practical ways to start improving your financial situation and overcoming financial stress. But a simple shift in mindset can help you feel more in control of your finances, according to a 2019 study by Capital One and The Decision Lab.

The “Mind Over Money” study found that thinking about long-term goals, being kind to yourself, forgiving past mistakes and focusing on what you can control can reduce the negative impacts of stress on your financial decisions. And less stress means that, over time, you could see an improvement in your financial confidence as you work on improving your saving and budgeting skills.

To find out more about this and ways to develop a smarter money mindset, you can check out tips from the “Mind Over Money” study.


1Capital One Shopping is a free browser extension available to Capital One and non-Capital One card customers. Enrollment required. Savings and available coupons vary.

Capital One Shopping Credits are subject to terms and conditions that are available at capitaloneshopping.com and are separate from any rewards you may be earning on a Capital One rewards credit card. Signing up for Capital One Shopping does not enroll you into any credit card rewards program.

The Capital One Online Privacy Policy does not cover the Capital One Shopping Services. The Capital One Shopping Privacy Policy can be found at https://capitaloneshopping.com/our-terms/privacy-policy.

2Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many scoring models used by lenders. It likely won’t be the same model your lender uses, but it is an accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web. The tool is not guaranteed to detect all identity theft.

Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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