When You Have Enough Saved but Still Worry About Money

In the financial advising business, it’s fairly common to hear from clients who are concerned they haven’t saved enough for retirement. What’s surprising about this, though, is that many of these clients are actually in an enviable financial position. They have worked hard to save more than they are likely to need, and yet they still worry about becoming penniless in retirement. Why is that?

Let’s consider a gentleman we’ll call David. He is 65 years old, a military veteran with a $40,000 per year pension, and he has $400,000 saved. His home is paid off and he has no debt to speak of. He qualifies for both Medicare and Tricare for health needs, and he has a long-term care policy just in case. You don’t have to be a financial professional to see that David has his ducks in a row, yet he’s still terrified of retiring and outliving his money.

We all have different relationships with money, and much of our money mindset comes from our upbringing. If our parents were spendthrifts, we may easily all into that trap, too. If they were Depression-era savers who worried constantly about money, like David’s parents were, that certainly plays a role in how we view our finances as adults.

Even if we didn’t inherit money worries from our parents, we go our entire working lives with the goal of saving, saving, saving. Save as much as you can for retirement, put something away for a rainy day, keep building your net worth… When it comes time to think about retirement – and beginning to spend those hard-earned resources rather than saving more – it’s a big psychological adjustment. It’s natural to have a bit of trepidation, though you shouldn’t let it stop you from retiring and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

If you find yourself with financial worries you can’t seem to overcome, consider whether these tips may help you:

Write Down Your Financial Successes

Sometimes, seeing things in black and white can ease your financial anxieties. In David’s case, he should write down the goals he has achieved: paying off his mortgage, erasing all debt, having $400,000 saved and so on. Seeing your solid financial footing all together on one page can help you see how truly well off you are. If you prefer, you can also make a checklist of things like building an emergency fund, having your pension paperwork in order or creating a monthly budget. Checking each of these off can help you feel more prepared.

Since writing is cathartic in general, you could also consider journaling about your money worries in order to help you process and overcome your concerns.


Talk to a Professional

Chances are, you already have a financial advisor – have you spoken together about your concerns? If not, that’s a great place to start. Getting a professional sign-off on your financial health could make you feel more confident that you’re prepared for retirement. More and more people are also enlisting the services of a financial therapist. The Financial Therapy Association employs therapists who understand how much emotions and financial history are tied to money decisions, and they take a holistic approach to helping you manage your financial – and mental – health.


Talk to a Friend

Sometimes, the best way to overcome financial anxiety about retirement is to talk with a friend or family member who has already successfully made the transition. They’ve been in your shoes and can help point out the positives of your situation and divert you from focusing so much on your worries. If you don’t care to share specifics of your finances with friends, you could also seek out an online community where people discuss their worries and reassure one another. Facebook groups exist for everything under the sun, and you’re likely to find many that focus on retirement planning or transition topics.


Give Yourself Some Grace

It can take years to get comfortable with the idea of retirement, even if you’ve already pulled the trigger and left the working world behind. Even when you aren’t saddled with constant money concerns, it’s a big transition to go from a saving mentality to one of spending. Be patient with yourself if you’re struggling, and remind yourself that you’ve taken all the proper steps, checked all the right boxes and fully prepared yourself for a retirement that can be fulfilling and stress-free if only you give yourself a little grace in getting there.

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