You come home and see the pile of unopened bills and bank statements, but instead of opening them, you move onto something else. Maybe you come up with a justification for passing that pile for the umpteenth time, or maybe you stuff the slight feeling of panic back down and ignore it. You have no idea what your credit score is, and you aren’t sure how close you are to overdrawing your bank account. You’re waiting until you get paid again to check, but part of you knows that you aren’t planning to check next time around either. Money becomes a taboo topic, and when it comes up, you fall silent or change the subject.
If you can relate to any of this, you may be experiencing money avoidance. In the past, I’ve personally joked with friends about having a more “intuitive” approach to managing my money, which really meant I was avoiding taking control. I know this is common, because more often than not, whoever I was talking to echoed the same financial approach. It’s not surprising, because money is consistently the top source of stress for American adults.
We all develop a money story as we move through life, which is influenced by the way we see the adults in our life handle money and the ways they directly or indirectly teach us about money. Whether or not you realize it, your money story has been a long time in the making, as we start building our beliefs about money from a young age.
Money avoidance doesn’t usually happen when everything is totally fine financially, which makes it even more important to address. If you are anxious about opening bills or can’t bring yourself to check your bank account, it may be because you are overspending, unable to make a plan to address debts owed, unsure of how to approach money in general, or maybe even dealing with deeper feelings of shame about money. These are just some examples, and each person’s situation is unique to them. Taking time to talk with a therapist about your own money story is an important step toward relieving yourself of dysfunctional financial habits and feeling more empowered to take control of your financial future.