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If You Want to Master Your Finances, Shed Your Fears


At the risk of sounding like a wet blanket for those of you who follow me elsewhere in the blogosphere, I’m going through a tough time personally right now. The events of the past week have left me stunned, emotional, and questioning way too many things. After writing a post on The Happy Homeowner about how I refuse to sit complacently and let things happen to me without putting up a fight to come out stronger and better in the end, I realized that there’s one thing I’m not.

I’m not scared.

Yes, I’m nervous about the fact that I can no longer afford the beautiful condo I’ve worked so hard to have, but I’m not scared. As someone who prides herself on moving forward positively no matter what life throws my way, I understand that there is no room for fear when action is required. Yes, I’m heart-broken over an unexpected breakup. I’m also a bit PO’ed at the Google Gods for laying the smack down on a site I work for–a site that provided one of my largest, consistent sources of income until it had to be cut due to the latest Penguin update. But I’m not scared because I believe in my ability to persevere, to hustle when needed, and to make some lemonade out of all these lemons that are literally knocking me upside the head this week.

Fear and Finances Don’t Mix

The more I think about my next steps, the more I realize that fear hasn’t had a place in my plan to successfully manage my finances for quite some time. I’m the girl who was once nearly homeless and penniless, but I pulled myself through. I was drowning in a mountain of debt, but like Derek, I paid that off and haven’t looked back since. Throughout all of those tough times when money was tight and stress levels were high, I never let fear get in the way of moving myself forward.

Fear has no place in our finances because it strips us of our ability to make informed decisions and it blinds us from certain realities. It’s nearly impossible to make rational decisions when fear is in the driver’s seat, so why not leave it at home when we venture off on our journey?

Shed Your Fear, Take Control of Your Money

If you’re facing your own tough times, be steadfast with your ability to shed your fears. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to control your finances and the situation–rather than them controlling you. If you have a large debt looming over you, don’t let fear cause you to shirk the responsibility of paying it back–open those statements, negotiate those payments and if you have to, answer those calls. If you’re watching an investment account fluctuate wildly, don’t panic when things seem low and sell off at a loss.

Be Proactive Rather than Reactive

As you work to balance the emotional highs and lows that stressful financial experiences and situations bring to your life, work hard to create a plan for yourself. Imagine the various contingencies or outcomes and plan for them. By having your plan in place, you’ll feel much more confident in your ability to roll with the punches. You’ll also gain control over the situation which will bolster your motivation to keep chipping away. Remember that slow and steady does win the race. And by kicking your fears to the curb, you’re opening your budget and life to limitless possibilities.

How do you manage your money when life gets stressful?


AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. I am sorry to hear about your unexpected breakup, and wish you nothing but the best. I lived in a condo for a couple years with a close cousin of mine, but I felt no different in a condo than I did in a regular apartment, while knowing that I really longed for living in an open space as I aged – eventually that MAY change, but I doubt it.

    How do I handle it when life gets tough?
    Wanting to have a drink to wallow in self-pity because a certain event happened doesn’t help the pain or fear go away.

    Being steadfast is the way to go by continuing to put money aside for our future has to always resonate to the top. I believe this to be true even after you retire, by simply not taking out all the money that your investments make during any given year, even if you have to get rid of some luxuries.

    Follow the old strategy of BLSH (buy low, sell high), with the caveat that you should protect your investments by placing a stop-loss limit for any individual investment – thus you still get out before riding an investment down to $0.

    Good motivational article Jen! 🙂

    • Thank you, Chris! I agree with what you wrote about being steadfast–you have to keep moving forward and keep making positive financial choices so you can get everything in order for the next chapter. This is a great reminder for me that you never know what life will throw your way! Thank goodness I have a great e-fund and that I’m able to sell my place at a profit. Things could be worse

  2. It is hard when you rely on someone else to pay the bills. Now you are just roomies?
    I am a single gal that owns a condo that I can afford on my own. Maybe that was your financial error….to live/buy a place you could not afford on your own. I live in an area of Chicago that is expensive ( but I am glad I saved for so many years and still save a good chunk of my check to afford it as a single gal.

    • I actually have never relied on anyone to pay the bills (have lived there for three years by myself), but I recently struck out on my own as a freelancer and with the variable income, I’m telling myself I can’t afford it so I don’t make any mistakes. I already have June covered, but I don’t have the usual savings cushion I like. I had been planning to sell anyway, so hopefully this is a silver lining since the market is rebounding so well here. If I still had my full-time office job, I wouldn’t have the financial stress–but I’m willing to continue to test the online income waters since the past few months have been incredible!

      Good for you for saving so much to afford your place–excellent work!

      • Oops…meant to include that he abruptly moved out, too. He’d been there for about 4 months.

  3. Jen,

    Thanks for the article, I think so many people can relate with your fears and will benefit from your strength. Best of luck to you, hang in there!

    • Thank you, Monica! The only reason I share these types of personal things is hopefully to inspire others to push through whatever hard times they’re facing now, too.

  4. Honesty with yourself about long terms goals and how you can achieve them is essential, as you point out. Great article.

  5. “Fear has no place in our finances because it strips us of our ability to make informed decisions and it blinds us from certain realities.” I could not agree more Jen. I know it’s not always easy to separate that fear from money, but it is one of the best ways to keep decent control over a situation. We deal with it from time to time with having fluctuating income, but we keep our eye on the prize and save like crazy when we make more than we need. Keep being steadfast Jen! 🙂

    • I love your perspective here…so true that if you keep your eyes on the prize, you’ll eventually get there!

  6. Hang in there. You’ll make it through. Cut back a bit on extra expenses before things get to tight. Take some time to figure out what it is you want to do. It’s summer now, maybe there is someone looking for a place to stay for the summer and you could deal with a roommate for a few months? Or maybe you pick up a part time ‘fun’ job just as a precaution. All the options may not be ideal but I’m sure with a bit of thought you will find something that will work.

    • So I have everything covered for June with even saving about $1K. The plan to sell was always in place, but now I’m going to move it up, especially after hearing from my realtor how well the market is doing and that I should be able to clear at least a $25K profit. At least there’s a silver lining somewhere! Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. So sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I’ve seen the same thing happen to some of my friends after a break-up, and the fear of going through your finances alone is really frightening,but it’s really necessary to shed the fear of working out your finances. A friend of mine went through the same situation and it was very difficult for her because she relied on her husband for a long time and she found it difficult to start over so she had to rely to her parents to bail her out. It’s a good thing that you’re focusing on working out your situation instead of just worrying about it. Good luck!

    • Oh yes, all action here (except for some online therapy through my writing)! Luckily, I wasn’t relying on him to pay the bills–I just now lose a huge chunk of my savings and I’m not willing to jeopardize all that I’ve worked so hard to do. As much as this sounds like a reactive decision, I’m actually being proactive to avoid any future explosions in my budget/financial situation!

  8. I definitely get what you’re going through Jen. I had my wife split on me after 3 years of marriage. It leaves you with a ton of questions and insecurities, but just give it time. Hold onto the simple encouragement from your friends – I overheard my Dad’s friend saying, “If I know Derek, and I think I do, he’ll get through this just fine.” Up until that point I wasn’t so sure, but he was right. These days are much better than the initial ones. Hang in there Jen.

    • Thank you so much Derek–I can’t imagine going through what you endured. You’re right about the questions and insecurities…it’s pretty crazy the range of emotions I’ve been feeling! Happy to hear things are better now–I hope to be in that place sooner than later. At least I know that I’m doing the right thing by taking action and not wallowing. Just wishing life had a rewind or fast-forward button!

  9. What an emotional post! I don’t think I have ever gone through what you are experiencing, but you have my respect for being able to look at it from such a strong a determined standpoint. The kind of positive thinking you are exemplifying is exactly what is needed to get through the tough parts of life without damaging things you have worked so hard to build up, like your finances.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I wasn’t sure about letting it all out here like this, but then I realized that I just have to be myself. Writing is helping me to get through this and I’m thankful Derek didn’t mind an infusion of emotion.

      But you’re right–positive thinking and action will get me through.

  10. Personal finance is always a personal challenge which when overcome will bring about financial freedom and even more control in your financial situation. Not a single person will shape your personal finance. Every decision and every step taken will only come from you and the conviction deep inside of you.

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