3 Habits That Helped Me Get Over My Fear of Money Management

  • I used to hate thinking about my finances, but when my husband died suddenly, I had to take charge.
  • We used to have quarterly “money dates” to review our progress toward goals, a habit I’ve continued.
  • I also found professionals who help me stay on track, and keep bank accounts for different purposes.
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I used to dread looking at my finances the way some people dread going to the dentist. I would avoid it at all costs, which is an apt turn of phrase as it came with a very real cost to my mental health. 

My avoidant behavior toward

money management

only served to increase my anxiety about it and leave me feeling overwhelmed. On my journey toward developing a healthier attitude toward money, I adopted and honed several good money habits that helped me go from overwhelmed to owning a home and running my own business. 

I have regular ‘money dates’ with myself

My husband died suddenly in 2017. I was left with a broken heart, a mountain of paperwork, and the task of managing our finances on my own. Before he died, we used to have regular money dates. About once a quarter we would break out the spreadsheets and a bottle of wine, put on some good music, and get down to the business of figuring out where we were financially, where we could do better, and where we needed to adjust our spending, saving, and investments. Sounds sexy, right? We would set a time limit, spending no more than two hours crunching numbers, and then we’d reward ourselves with a nice dinner. If we’d had a strong quarter, we’d celebrate by going out for dinner. Otherwise, we’d stay in and cook. And not talk about money! That was my rule. 

After he died, I stopped having money dates. Like so many of our traditions, it became too painful to try on my own. It’s only very recently that I’ve brought this healthy money habit back into my life. 

My money dates look a little different now: I’m a fan of Google Sheets, which I make beautiful as well as functional. I review my finances each month instead of once a quarter, and I usually make a pot of green tea instead of opening a bottle of wine. The principle is the same, though. I carve out time to see how my finances are doing and where I need to adjust. 

Since buying my first home and going freelance in the last 12 months, regularly keeping an eye on my money has become that much more important. I’m still trying to work out a small reward that would feel appropriate, but for now, not being worried and overwhelmed about my financial situation is reward enough. 

I assembled a team of professionals to help me

When I embarked on the journey toward buying my first home, I relied on the experience and expertise of a few key professionals, including my financial advisor, mortgage broker, real estate agent, and perhaps surprisingly, the branch manager at my local bank. 

Jamie is a banker with a big heart. She helped me navigate the mountains of paperwork related to my husband’s sudden death, she personally responded to my urgent money-related questions, and walked me through the home-buying process, including preparing certified bank drafts in dollar amounts that made me feel faint. And all this even after I decided not to get a mortgage with my bank. Jamie cares about me and wants to help me reach my financial goals. Establishing a relationship with someone that I can trust at my local branch has been invaluable to me and is a good money habit I would recommend to everyone. 

I have different bank accounts for different purposes

A money management practice I swear by is having multiple bank accounts, each with a different purpose. I learned this approach from reading “Worry-Free Money” by Shannon Lee Simmons. The structure Simmons recommends involves having one main checking account where all of your bills are paid out of, knowing exactly how much money you need to keep in that account, and setting up auto-transfers of the remaining funds to other accounts, each with a specific purpose. 

For example, one account for short-term savings and another for long-term savings and a fun fund, where whatever money that’s leftover after the fixed amount auto-deposits are made each month goes. This fun fund is exactly what it sounds like — it’s for me to spend on whatever I choose. The amount of money in it is finite and helps keep potential overspends under control.

The structure is designed to be flexible — I can add, remove, and rename accounts any time to suit changes in my life, financial goals, and income. It also allows me to spend less time budgeting by taking the guesswork out of how much money I can safely spend on extras while ensuring that my bills are covered and I continue to save and invest. 

I’m not innately good at managing my money. I’m always learning. Adopting sound money management practices and habits and adapting them to my changing life has helped me to effectively manage my finances and improve my attitude toward money. 


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