Money is one of the biggest triggers for stress, anxiety and trouble with relationships. Let’s look into how money affects our happiness and what we can do to help make things better.
They say that money makes the world go round; but they also say that money is the root of all evil. I have worked in finance for over ten years and in this time I have seen how money has changed people’s lives – usually for the worst. Personally I experienced my own challenges with money when I started my own business – constantly worrying and feeling anxious that I ‘wasn’t going to have enough’ or that I would end up going broke. The funny thing is that sometimes we have more than enough money to meet our needs but the constant bombardment of advertising and expensive goals we have programmed into us by others can leave us feeling that we are poor.
I am comfortable with money now but when I was younger I found that I always wanted more. No matter what goals I ticked off or how much I could afford to buy, I always needed more. Things like anxiety and stress develop when you feel like you are constantly chasing money – and depression can set in when you feel that you don’t have enough, or that you had more money in the past. Check out a few things that I have learnt about money and what you can do to remove the effect of money on your mental health.
Money can make you feel small
No matter how much money you have, if you know someone that has more, it can leave you feeling small. This is your mind and your ego telling you that regardless of how much you have, someone else is doing better than you. Allowing your mind to control you in this way will leave you feeling small for your whole life – and probably one of the reasons why some of the rich keep chasing more and more money without care for the world or those around them. The funny thing is that unless you are the richest person in the world, there will always be someone with more money than you!
It’s all about relativity. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others because all that will do is leave us feeling small and leave us wanting more. Yes we could always have more money, but you could also have less. Studies prove that after a certain level of income (around $70,000 p.a.) there is no direct correlation between increases in happiness for an increase in income. I am sure that if you are like me, you just said ‘yea sure, if I had $10,000,000 cash I would totally be happy’. I know how you feel! Is this you or your ego talking? Question your motives of what money actually does for you and how you can find other ways to find happiness without having to see more money in your bank account.
Money can put you in a tough spot
Ok I know that some people don’t care about money or being rich but they are still stressed or anxious because of their lack of money. Maybe you overspent, or took out a mortgage that was too big for your income, or had a bit of bad luck – but the fact is that now you are in a tough spot. The interest on your debts is compounding and you feel like you are sinking deeper and deeper. Maybe you are a victim of circumstance or a victim of your own doing. Either way you need to get yourself out of this money pit before it all becomes too much.
There will be more on what you can do later in the post, but it is important to get the help that you need. If you are not financially literate or you are not sure how you can get out of it, it is imperative that you get personal financial advice. You could research your governments money sites online as a start (most governments have great info on the web about how to deal with money – in Australia we have Moneysmart which is a great free resource). But either way you must get help from someone who can analyse your situation and give you a personalised plan to get back on track. Maybe you can consolidate your debts, maybe you can save some costs, or maybe you need to get a second job. Knowing how bad the damage is and what you need to do to fix it is much better than just continuing into the unknown down a path of darkness.
Not having enough money is an illusion that we create for ourselves
Ok, unless you have the creditors knocking on your door or you are in a tough spot like the guys above, you most likely just THINK that you don’t have enough money. I will say it now, straight up and make it clear for you; YOU WILL NEVER THINK THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY. You know how I know this? Just look at the rich. Do any of them reach a magical amount of money and then give up their businesses and start working for the world instead? No. Some give away a lot of their wealth, but most of them continue to strive to make more. For normal people like you and me it is even harder. You are always going to have goals that mean that you need more money. Buying a car, buying a house, renovating the house, putting the kids through school, travel, entertainment and keeping up with the Joneses are all reasons why we will never have enough money. The more money you make will just result in a nicer car, or a bigger house, or an extra holiday – keeping you wanting (and needing) more money for the next thing.
We need to understand that money is just a tool to help us live our lives. How much money you have does not affect the quality of your life – your mind does a better job of that. If you can learn to accept that you will always have goals in your life that requires money, and no matter what amount of money you have, it will probably not be enough (as we will always raise the bar). The more you can accept this, the less stress and anxiety you will feel because of money.
What can we do to help reduce the affect of money on our mental health?
Set up a budget, and stick to it!
If you actually have no money and you are tired of living week to week – well it is time to set up a budget. I know that setting up a budget is boring, but you need to decide whether you are willing to accept and deal with change, or you are happy with your life the way it is.
Use a budget planner or get someone to help you plan this out. I can guarantee that if you set up a budget and better understand how much you need to put away for bills, savings and the mortgage each week, you will reduce your anxiety dramatically. Ironically it is often the people that earn more money that have trouble with this; and I think the main reason why is because the fact that they make more money, they don’t think that it is important to manage it. Show gratitude for what you can already afford. For example, do you have Netflix? Well you are doing much better than your parents or grandparents who most likely didn’t even have a TV when they were growing up – let alone having endless hours of entertainment at their disposal. Remember that someone will always have more than you, and you will always have more than someone else has or had. For that we can be grateful for what we have got.
Forget about money being a reason for your happiness
This is something that I am still challenging myself on today. We have been programmed all our lives to think that money will bring us happiness – but the facts are there that money has no direct correlation to happiness and often a large amount of money actually makes us worse off. Your mental health is in your hands and measuring your happiness against how much money you have got is only going to leave you feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, or longing for more. Yes we need money to live our lives, yes we need to pay the bills, but no we don’t need any more money than that. This doesn’t mean that we are careless with our money or we no longer strive for our financial goals (I still have financial goals), but it means that we no longer allow our happiness to be affected by the amount of money that we have (or don’t have).
Let’s remove money as a reason for poor mental health!
I once did a test on myself after reading a book which asked me to write down the most important things and the best memories I have had. You know what was funny? None of them had anything to do with money! Friends, family, love, relationships, health, experiences, knowledge, my sports team winning grand finals – these were all things that brought me the most happiness – and most of them involved little to no money! Try it for yourself, and even if you find that money is on your list of most important things or memories, find out why. What is the underlying reason why you want money? I mean money doesn’t taste good; you can’t really do anything with it other than trade it for something else. So what is it about money that brings you happiness? I am still challenging myself to let go of the power of money on my mental health, but I know that I am no longer worried about having enough money or wanting to ‘be rich’. Remember that someone once said that ‘the best things in life are free’…
About the author – Stef – Positive Living and Mental Health Advocate
Stef is a positive living and mental health advocate who dedicates much of his free time to improving his own and others mental health. Never miss a post by subscribing to the blog for free. Just pop your email address into the form on this page to sign up! Check out and subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking on this link!