Confronting Financial Anxiety

Overthinking money problems is the start to a dangerous downward anxiety spiral. For me, it starts with obsessing over a non-necessity I spent money on. Then, I move to my current financial situation, then to my future financial situation. It’s suffocating. Very rarely am I able to snap out of initiating financial anxiety before it worsens. The thoughts quickly morph into a disparaging reflection of my identity. I begin seeing myself as inferior to the rich. But in reality, your net worth does not, in any way, define your worth. It never will, no matter how much capitalism claims it does.

The American Dream is suppose to be an achievable and accessible phenomenon with hard work, but we know it’s not. You can’t claim hard-work reaps equitable benefits when there are millions of Americans working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. It’s a slap to the face when wealthy organizations hold financial workshops to endow their wise knowledge on the poor. Yes, budgeting can help appease financial anxiety. But budgeting alone cannot produce wealth. Why are poor people expected to emulate the virtues of frugal living when the wealthy selfishly hoard so much money?

Sadly, millions of Americans are forced to overwork to pay for medical bills, to enjoy small luxuries like seeing their families over a break. If we live on the premise that we only have one life, where’s the logic in compromising our health or spending time with our loved ones? We should not have to overwork to live enjoyable lives. Current workhour standards are already exploitative and unfair to the working class. 

If we live on the premise that we only have one life, where’s the logic in compromising our health or spending time with our loved ones?

Who is really to blame?

The journey to beating the cycle of poverty is not accessible to everyone. Some Americans can defeat this harmful cycle because we are financially stable enoughBut with rising medical costs, education costs, and further exploitation of the lower and working classes, many do not have the option of focusing on health over money. Yet, it is the lower class who are made at fault.

The blame for economic problems is inappropriately placed. Poor people are the victims of a ruthless system that perpetuates classism. They are not their own oppressors, and the reality is everybody deserves to live a life free of excessive stress over finances.

Billionaires only get rich by exploiting the labor of the working class. Why are they free to live cushioned lives when there are communities still struggling for clean water? The complicity of those that enjoy the sweet fruits of capitalist oppression are to blame. It is revolting to imagine the apathy of these groups. Rich people’s philanthropy often reflects an attempt to appease their guilt or to pacify public outcry. The financial literacy workshops will never rid people of the source of our financial anxiety. They will never be liberatory. What will be liberatory is the deconstruction of capitalist structures that perpetuate entitlement in the rich and leave no room for the working class to generate wealth.

Feature Photo by Aaron Blanco Tejedor

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