Financial Shame & Guilt

BY: Priya Kumar

We carry so much shame and guilt around our finances. And the shame and guilt are coming from ‘financial trauma.’ This term may sound foreign. Basically, financial trauma is a set of circumstances and life events that create stress, fear, and insecurity around money, which influences our habits/ behaviors, mindset, and relationship with money.

A recent survey by Capital One showed that three out of four Americans (77%) feel fear or anxiety around money. This fear and anxiety can be deeply rooted in our childhood, such as poverty, bullying, family dynamic, etc. Likewise, the root cause may stem from life events, such as divorce, bankruptcy, bad money decisions, financial loss in business or investments, etc.

So how does financial trauma create buyer’s remorse and shame? If you always heard “no” as a child when you wanted something, then as an adult this may cause buyer’s remorse or shame. This is because you may feel like you don’t deserve it, you didn’t earn it, or you’re not worthy of it. This belief system may create a negative relationship with money as well, such as shame. Shame is the worst punishment you can give yourself for spending the money you worked so hard to earn. Not only does it make you feel unworthy, but it can also cause a lack of confidence, lack of motivation, stress, anxiety, and even depression. Next time you feel shame in spending your own money, try to reward yourself instead and celebrate your success. If you’ve been working toward a goal and you achieve that goal, treat yourself. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. You can get something that aligns with your journey of success so that it’s more personal and is a reminder of your growth, hard work, perseverance, and success. Rewarding your hard work creates motivation and understanding that this reward symbolizes your journey and growth, and then you may overcome your buyer’s remorse.

But what if you are having buyer’s remorse because you are in a bad financial situation due to your spending habits? In this case, you may need to evaluate your spending habits. Are the expenses more toward instant gratification through retail therapy? If yes, then this may create a hole that you’ll have a hard time getting out of. But if you are shaming yourself about it, then it’ll prevent you from asking for help. Especially, if getting help is going to reduce stress and improve your quality of life. Understand what got you in this position in the first place. Which financial trauma caused you to have this relationship with money? Get help to find the root cause of it. Then start taking action to change this behavior and reduce the debt. Seeking help to change a bad habit takes courage.

Getting help will empower you because it’ll provide you with much-needed financial education, understanding, and tools to change these habits and spending patterns. That combination allows you to reclaim control over your finances. Empower yourself and take steps to overcome your financial challenges. Create a healthier and more loving relationship with money. And this empowering relationship will reward you with reduced stress, fear, anxiety, and less shame around money. You will find yourself in a positive financial standing and that’s good news.

Priya Kumar is a Financial Literacy Coach educating and empowering women on how to create financial security, freedom, and success. Her program offers financial trauma healing and a step-by-step process to rebuilding and growing.

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