Does money impact your mental health?
I don’t know. Is water blue? Do you need oxygen to survive? Do you only get one life to live?
The answer is yes, money does impact your mental health. At least this is what I believe.
I have experienced money from both sides: not having enough to do the things that I want to do, and having too much, but still not doing the things that I want to do.
When it comes to money, I will admit that I have a fear. I remember the days of being reliant on my parents to buy me everything. I remember the days of not having enough money in my personal checking account to buy the things that I really wanted.
Now that I am older and make a decent living, I have this fear of repeating those days. There is this fear inside of me that if I were to lose my job, I would want to have enough saved up so that I wouldn’t need to ask others for help.
This urge to save is a bit extreme. I tell myself “I will save to $10,000 and then will lighten up when it comes to money.” Then that $10,000 becomes $15,000, and that $15,000 then becomes $20,000 and so on.
That’s why I can confidently say that money has impacted my mental health. Maybe it hasn’t for you, but it surely has for me. In different ways, overly saving money has brought just as many emotions as not having enough money.
How Being Broke Impacts Your Mental Health
Growing up, I didn’t have to really work hard. Some may call that a blessing, others may call it a curse. For me, I saw it as a blessing. I enjoyed my summers, worked a bare minimum, and relied on my parents to cover all of my big expenses.
It would have been a curse if I never would have learned to grow up, but I eventually got my act together.
This continued through college. I went to a private college that cost $35,000 a year, and I walked away with only one year worth of student loans. During the school year, my focus was on athletics and academics.
Granted I didn’t have to pay for much and was able to call my parents up if I needed money, I always felt like a failure for doing so. I saw some of my friends working their way through college while doing all of the things I was, and it made me question if I was always going to need to lean on my parents for financial support, or if I would find a way to finally spread my wings.
This sense of self-doubt began to take over my mind. While it wasn’t a major contributor to my depression, it definitely played a role. I had to look at myself in the mirror every morning and ask myself what I had to show for in my life.
The truth of the matter is that I didn’t have a lot. Everything I had was because of my parents. The car I drove, the tuition for the school I was attending, the food I was eating, all of that was coming out of my parents’ pockets. Heck, if it wasn’t for my parents making a call to their alma mater, I wouldn’t have been accepted into the only college that took me. I knew this, but I also knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life feeling this way.
How Too Much Money Impacts Your Mental Health
Fast forward some ten years later, and now the roles have reversed. Anybody in my family knows they can come to me and borrow money if there is a big, unexpected expense. That constant fear of being a failure finally helped me to get my act together, graduate from college with a 3.5 GPA (better than the 17 I got on my ACT), and land my first corporate job six months out of college where I would start out making $56,000 per year.
At that time, it was game on. It was all about building an emergency fund as quickly as I could. I was tired of needing to call my parents for money and wanted to save as much as I could so that I could call myself “rich.”
As I saw the amount in my savings account continue to grow, I became more attached to it. I hated seeing that amount decrease by any amount, even if it were just by a dollar. I became hesitant of loaning money I knew I would get back just because I couldn’t stand to see the amount in my account dip even for a few days. It caused my thoughts to race and triggered my anxiety.
In the rare case that I would loan money out, I would need it back on a certain date. If someone was a day late, well, they would get constant calls and texts. I would check my account probably 5 times per day just because I was so worried.
Money (more specifically my desire to constantly have more money) has contributed to many sleepless nights, a lot of worry and panic, and overall, just a lot of negative emotions. When it comes to money, I went from 0 to 100 real quick without any in-between.
How To Manage Money and Mental Health
This is something that I am having to work on, hence why I am writing this, but you need to find a balance in life and with everything you do.
No, it’s not good to be broke. You don’t need money to be happy, but it’s also not easy to be happy when you don’t have enough money.
We need money to survive and to provide for ourselves, but we also need to learn to live for more than just a paycheck. That’s why we all need to find a balance that is suited for our lifestyle.
If you are someone who is in debt (most of us are, it’s okay), build a savings account before you continue to spend every last penny. If you are someone who has too much in savings, do something good with your money. Help a friend or a family member, pay down all of your debt, and just don’t allow yourself to get overly attached to money. It’s just as damaging to your mental health to get overly stressed about money as it is to not care about money at all.
Before You Go
Am I a financial expert? Nope. I am just someone who is trying to take control and master their life one day at a time. This means being open and honest about my weaknesses and taking you along for the ride.
Life isn’t always perfect and there are going to be challenges along the way, but the first step to facing your challenges is to admit that there is one to face.
I want to be rich. I want to someday make $1 million per year and be able to pay off all of my family’s debt. But I don’t want money to rule my life to the point where it’s helped contribute to depression and anxiety as it has in the past.
I want to be smart about my future while also enjoying the now, and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.