Dubai: While it’s common for us to worry about money, did you know some of us can even develop a fear of spending money? Such a fear, referred to as ‘chrometophobia’ or ‘chrematophobia’, is a persistent fear of spending money or simply being around it.
“When money is tight, most of us feel tense and grow anxious. However, some of us worry about money every day, even when there is no real lack. If anxiety lasts for six months or more, you may have an anxiety disorder related to money,” said Abu Dhabi-based financial advisor Andrea Barbara.
“If you find yourself often having an exaggerated sense of anxiety when handling money, or constantly worrying about bills, the budget, and anything else that requires you to spend money, you may have ‘chrometophobia’. But there are ways to get over this fear.”
How do you know if you have ‘chrometophobia’?
So, ‘chrometophobia’ is an extreme fear of spending money, to the extent that it can get in the way of daily life. “You not only get anxious or panic-stricken at the prospect of spending money, you also tend to avoid spending money as much as possible,” said Dubai-based money coach Mirin Raul.
“’Chrometophobia’ can be noticeable in different ways, depending on the individual. While one person might repeatedly count their money for reassurance, another might be afraid to manage it, or even think about it. In some, this fear may also extend to other valuables, such as jewellery.”
However, Raul added that it’s important to note that like other phobias, ‘chrometophobia’ is an “irrational fear”. “Therefore, someone who genuinely has financial problems may not have ‘chrometophobia’, because their reluctance to spend money may be realistic,” she added.
Symptom #1: Costs keep you away from activities you enjoy: “If you find yourself always avoiding activities you enjoy just because they cost you money, you might be suffering from fear of spending money,” added Barbara.
Symptom #2: You find yourself constantly counting money: It's common for people to check their bank accounts every week and at times even every day. “But if you have to check your bank account every few minutes, you may have ‘chromatophobia’,” said Raul.
Symptom #3: You completely refuse to handle your finances: Sufferers of ‘chrometophobia’ are triggered emotionally by the sight of cash, or even the thought of budgeting, explained Barbara, while adding such blatant refusal can make routine activities hard.
How do you manage ‘chrometophobia’ if you have it?
There are several ways you can manage your spending anxiety, and in turn reduce your ‘chrometophobia’, explain experts. “Understanding that the fear is irrational and causing challenges in your life is a key first step,” said Raul. “The next steps vary depending on your core issue.
“If you have a constant paranoia of unpaid bills, set up direct debits or automatic payments for all your bills and as many outgoings as possible. You could also try creating a monthly or weekly budget or utilise a budgeting app to help you manage your finances and rein in your fear.”
Financial planners also widely recommend that having short-term and long-term financial goals keeps mind at ease in matters concerning the future state of your finances. By setting a financial plan, you can determine if spending money on a particular item fits in with your overall plan or not.
Planning your goals with a ‘money map’ eases stress
“While there is no single way to manage the fear of spending money, keep in mind that whatever management method you choose, it should address the cause of your ‘chrometophobia’,” added Barbara.
“If yours comes from a seemingly unstable financial future, you can correct that by keeping your finances in order and making a ‘money map’. If your fear of money stems from past experiences, you may have to deal with it before fixing your fear of spending.”
What is a ‘money map’? ’A ‘money map’ shows you your current financial status and also your future financial goals and helps you plan your spending and savings each month. “Without a money map, you may not get past the limiting beliefs that you can have your finances in order,” she added.
“If you remain short-sighted with your finances, you may end up with the worry that triggers a fear of spending. If you feel like the fear of spending money is creeping in, you need to take another look at your money map and see how much you have to spend and save.”
Anxiety over our finances can manifest in all sorts of ways, and at times, it can even become difficult to go through our finances. Although worrying about not having enough money is an example of financial anxiety, experts evaluate how that’s not the only instance of experiencing it.
“When you obsess over saving every single dirham, become hyperaware of where your money is going or you imagine situations where you lose all your money, that’s when the fear can turn debilitating,” added Raul.
“To start curbing your financial anxiety, identify what’s causing your stress in the first place. If your financial anxiety stems from a money mistake you once made, or after you were scammed out of a lot of money, try to avoid harping on what’s done and instead look forward to fix it.”
Once you have a full picture of where your money is going every month, you can look for opportunities to redirect some of it to the areas causing your financial stress or what psychologists refer to as ‘chrometophobia’.