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How Mental Health Influences Our Money Habits

We had a conversation with Adriana Alejandre, Founder of LatinxTherapy, to discuss mental health and money. The interview covered how anxiety presents itself when managing money, the taboo on disclosing personal finances, and habits you can implement today to start a healthy relationship with money.

Listen to the full discussion here.

What are some common fears and anxieties around money?

People who grew up really poor and low economic status tend to catastrophize money, even when they have a lot of it. In their mind, they can’t get out of survival mode. They also have a fear of never being able to get out of debt, seeing financial freedom as an unattainable goal, and even fear of losing their job.

What are some tips to start reducing the anxiety around money?

Money is so deeply rooted within us that we don’t even realize it. To start the healing process you need to reduce the shame you have around money and instead understand it. Is it a friend, an abuser, are you addicted to it? Listen to how your body responds to money when you are making decisions. Does your heart drop when you spend on groceries or does your body tighten when talking to your family about money? This is the first step to mending your relationship with money.

One way that I help my patients understand their relationship with money is by personifying it. Write a letter to money and share how it made you feel growing up. We should also keep in mind that the way that we think about money has been learned over time.

How can we remove the taboo when talking about money?

The simple answer is to just talk about it. We keep everything “hush-hush” especially within our culture, but it’s really harmful when we do this. Racist policies are implemented in the workplace that has contributed to this taboo and we are only hurting ourselves by not talking about it.

On the other side of the coin, there are people who have made significant progress in their quest for financial freedom, but they feel shame for having “too much”. Just remember, you’re not talking about it to show off, you’re talking about it to show up for your community.

What are some general techniques on building good habits on money?

An important habit to have is self-discipline with your financial schedule and budget. Discipline is important right now since Covid-19 presented so much uncertainty in our lives.

One strategy people can do to exercise their discipline muscle is to save a small amount of money in an envelope from every paycheck. Over time they will start seeing that they accrued 30 or 50 bucks, and it will form a good habit.

What are some other mental health problems that are common when it comes to money?

A common theme among my patients is difficulty with savings. It might be because their parents didn’t have enough growing up, or they did have money but they were irresponsible about their finances. You end up passing that to future generations so breaking that cycle is so important.

Part of our collectivistic culture is that you take the role of the parent and end up burning yourself out. I would recommend saving some money for your self care–whatever that means for you. Sometimes that takes a little bit of money and sometimes all it takes is a Grays Anatomy episode.

To get more tips from Latinx Therapy you can follow her on Instagram.

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