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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

Worrying about money will only cost you more

Fretting about your finances can lead to illness, depression and insomnia

Illustration by Gary Clement
Illustration by Gary Clement

I catch myself doing it, and wonder what it would be like not to.

It creeps up on me. I have no clue how much time is spent working out various outcomes and calculating options. Everyone does it.

It can be an obsession, or due to fear. For the lucky few, it’s them keeping a tab on things from a place of calm and calculated control.

People spend more time thinking about money than they do about most other things. This is fine if you are in a good financial place, but it can lead to illness, depression and more if you are not.

There is a difference between thinking and fretting.

For the purpose of today, I’m focusing on worry versus thinking about things.

Everything we do involves thinking, processing options and arriving at decisions – our financial lives included. But worrying? It comes from a place of uncertainty, ignorance and lack of action. Instead of helping, it can destroy the process of making decisions, thereby exacerbating the worry, and the reasons for it.

When it comes to money, it can be because there isn’t enough, wanting to keep it and grow it, or worrying about making it last.

A survey conducted a few years ago by the UK’s National Savings and Investments found that those who worry save half the amount that those who plan, and don’t worry save.

It makes sense. The more time and effort you put into things, the better you get at it, including managing money issues.

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Read more from Nima Abu Wardeh:

Being generous makes us happy and connects us to one another

Don't let the D in death or divorce lead to financial stress

A cautionary tale about hankering after a fairy-tale home

Give your child time and the right education rather than hard cash

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When it comes to worrying though, the more you do it, the worse things get. Studies state that we spend years worrying - between 5 and 6.5 years for those living in the UK according to two studies, and two out of five Americans surveyed by Liberty Mutual Insurance say they worry every day. The report found that millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing - and money.

This is where I agree with Cher – yes, Cher, AKA goddess of pop. She’s down for saying ‘if it doesn’t matter in five years, it doesn’t matter'. In other words, if you’re worrying about something trivial, temporary then stop. If it’s something that can be remedied, then get on with fixing it. Money will matter in five years, and it is usually the main reason people worry. Therefore it deserves your attention and remember, paying attention is not worry.

This is what one person commenting on an article about worrying about money wrote: "I don’t need to worry about money, but I still do because I know what can happen if you don’t have it. I grew up poor, so even to this day I am still frugal and saving most of my income in the event of a rainy day."

This person risks losing sleep, grinding teeth, becoming ill and depressed with worry.

Worrying means dwelling on possible threats to our lives – and by doing so, wasting cognitive resources that could otherwise be used to figure a way out, or in the case of this person, enjoying what they have.

Worrying ages us, agitates us and is useless.

The writer Mark Twain said: "I have known a great many troubles, but many of them never happened."

Instead of fretting, identify what you’re afraid of, do something about it and then let it go.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t worry about money?

One approach to achieving this is called: finish each day and be done with it.” This piece of wisdom comes from the American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders, losses, and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can," he said.

"Tomorrow is a new day; let today go so you can begin tomorrow well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. Each new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.“

This only applies if you spend time on doing something about the cause of concern.

Be very afraid – worrying about money costs you dear.

Nima Abu Wardeh is a broadcast journalist, columnist and blogger. Share her journey on finding-nima.com