Most people worry about money, and some of them even have a fear of spending money. Americans think and worry about money most of the time. At least 70 percent of Americans are in debt, with at least 15 percent having s negative net worth. Most people in debt fear the future – this is normal.

Fear of spending money, known as chrometophobia or chrematophobia, is an abnormal and persistent fear of spending money or being around it.

Those who suffer from the condition have an irrational anxiety when around cash. The sufferers fear that they might mismanage the money they have. They might also feel that the money will make them evil, as the saying goes.

Chrometophobia is a term from two Greek words, Chrimata and Phobos (money and fear). The word chromatophobia may be from chroma, which means color in Greek, and Phobos, which means fear. Ancient coins had brilliant colors – these include gold, silver, copper, and bronze.

What Is A Normal Fear Of Money?

normal fear of money

Everyone worries about money. When times are hard, most people feel tense, and anxiety creeps in. However, some people worry about money every day, even when they have enough. If the anxiety lasts for six months or more, you may have an anxiety disorder related to money.

Many people who have chrometophobia do not realize it. The sufferers have an exaggerated sense of anxiety when handling money. If you have the condition, you will find yourself constantly worrying about bills, the budget, and anything else that requires you to spend money.

The condition can affect your relationships, health, sleep, and ability to think clearly. You may also feel irritable when you think about spending money.

What Are The Symptoms Of Chrometophobia?

symptoms of a fear of money

Chromatophobia is the same as other irrational fears such as arachnophobia, claustrophobia, and agoraphobia. The fear is exaggerated. Sufferers show different symptoms that vary in severity.

These are some of the most common types of Chrometophobia symptoms:

Refraining From Money Thoughts

You might have unhealthy saving and spending habits that trigger your chromatophobia. This happens for people who are hesitant to spend money, even on bills that matter and are required.

The fear of spending money might stem from the fact that one is afraid of running out of money if they spend it. Others feel inadequate in managing their money, so they stop saving and paying bills.

Staying 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. You might skip important family or individual activities such as family movie night, swimming sessions, and many others. If you do so because you fear spending money, then you may have chromatophobia.

Desire To Constantly Count Money

counting money with a toddler

It is common for most people to check their bank accounts every week and sometimes even every day. However, if you have to check your bank account every few minutes, you may have a disorder.

If you have to count and recount the money in your wallet several times every day and feel anxious when you see what you have, you might have chromatophobia.

Refusal To Handle Money

Some sufferers refuse to handle money completely. If the sight of cash triggers you emotionally, or you fear that you might get sick from the germs on money, you might have chrometophobia. The refusal to handle money can make everyday activities challenging.

Depressive Thoughts

The fear of money brings intense feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and, in severe cases, depression. If your financial situation causes extreme anxiety, you need to find help from a professional.

In some cases, you might experience physical symptoms if you suffer from this condition.

Such physical symptoms include:

  • Shaking and muscle twitches
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Diarrhea

If you have any of the above symptoms, see a medical professional immediately.

Naturally, your problems will worry you, but that doesn’t mean you have a fear of money. Generalized anxiety doesn’t last. If your financial stress makes it hard for you to relax and persists for a long time, you need to seek help.

In severe cases, chrometophobia can affect your day-to-day activities, relationships, health, and work. If you cannot spend money even when you are sick or need to go to work, the condition will affect all aspects of your life.

Who Suffers From Chrometophobia?

people who suffer from a fear of spending money known as chromatophobia

Everyone is at risk of suffering from this condition. Adults of any age can suffer from the condition as soon as they start earning money. The condition is more common with poor and middle-class earners as they worry they may not have enough money to spend in the future.

The genes in a family might put some people at a higher risk of anxiety disorders, including the fear of spending money. Your background, experiences, and the people around you also influence whether you will suffer from this condition. Neurotransmitters in your brain and other structures inside your brain are part of the anxious and worrying feeling.

No lab test can confirm you have a phobia. Because of this, professionals depend on your account of the symptoms.

Several questions you may be asked are:

  • How often do you worry about your finances?
  • How long has the worry been going on?
  • Does the anxiety affect your work, relationships, and other aspects of your life?
  • Does the sight of money trigger emotions in you?

If the condition is severe enough to affect your work and health, you need to seek help from a psychotherapist.

What Causes Chrometophobia?

Every case of this condition is different. Your case might result from your experiences and family background. For others, your upbringing may be the cause of your worry and anxiety.

Below are some of the most common probable causes of chrometophobia:

Money Taboo

Did you know that up to 70 percent of Americans consider money conversations more intimate than sexual conversations? Most people feel that talking about money is scary – it means thinking about the future and the failures that might come with it.

Money is also powerful – it can be an indicator of status and success.

People who do not have enough money can feel insecure, and most people never feel like they have enough. It is easier to solve money problems when you talk about it, but most people, instead, choose to keep money talk out of the discussion. This unwillingness to talk about money can lead to chrometophobia.

Spending Worries Due To A Scarcity Mindset

Everyone understands that money is a scarce resource, and there is a need to plan for it. However, when the worry for this scarce resource is extreme, you may have chrometophobia. When someone fears that they may not have enough money for the days to come, they cut down their spending.

The worry that you may run out of money makes you stop making a plan for your money and, instead, stop spending it altogether.

Tying Money To Hours Worked

If you always calculate the number of hours you work to the money you earn, you might be hesitant to spend it. If you are always working out the hours, you will likely want to spend less money than you make in an hour.

The Complexity Of Money

The topic of money is not cheap. Some people do not understand the terms that bank statements, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and mortgages use. Instead of understanding this, some people choose to ignore them altogether and avoid spending their money. Ignoring finances doesn’t make it easier and can put your financial situation and future in jeopardy.

Is Chrometophobia More Common In Men Or Women?

Chrometophobia in men and women

The fear of money doesn’t affect men and women with the same severity. Men feel stressed and anxious about their financial situation. However, women are more at risk or experiencing higher levels of anxiety.

Most women cite financial challenges as their top concern. Financial challenges come on top of health and family issues because you feel can afford medical care when you have money.

Generally, women earn less than men (although this is quickly changing), and they live about seven years longer than men. Because of this, a woman has to save more than a man for retirement, yet often her income is less than that of a man.

Women are also more likely to be the primary caregiver for their children, and they tend to have more people depending on them financially. All the financial responsibilities can add up to make women more anxious.

More women are likely to work part-time with less pay than their male counterparts with full-time careers and retirement plans. Almost all women who choose to have children will miss work due to pregnancy and the time commitments of raising children.

The time they spend away from the workforce means fewer career opportunities, less income, and less retirement money.

Because of the scenarios mentioned above,  statistically, more women suffer from chrometophobia. For many years, women believed in the stereotyping that they could not handle money or be financially free. Even today, some girls still believe that a man will come into their lives and take care of their economic issues.

Some women are also anxious when dealing with numbers. Math anxiety holds some women back from making financial decisions. These women’s worries become a phobia if they are persistent and compel them to avoid spending money.

7 Ways To Manage Chrometophobia

ways to manage your fear of money

Everyone must pay attention to their finances. This is the only way to stay out of crippling debt and stay on top of your bills. However, if the thought or sight or money makes you cringe with fear and anxiety, you need to seek help or find an easy way to work around the fear.

Here are a few helpful tips to fight your fear of spending money:

1. Create a Budget

Most sufferers of chrometophobia fear they will overspend and have nothing for the future. To avoid overspending or thinking about it, you should create a monthly budget and stick to it. A budget makes it easier for you to check your spending boundaries without denying yourself the necessities of life.

You can use a budgeting app to help you manage your money. These apps can connect to your credit cards, bank account, and other financial accounts to control your spending and give you suggestions when they are needed. These apps also give you an alert when you come close to your set budget or when you start overspending.

A few common budget apps are:

  • Personal Capital
  • Mint
  • YNAB
  • Albert
  • Clarity Money
  • Goodbudget

2. Create An Emergency Fund

An emergency fund helps you in the case of large unforeseen expenses. More than 28 percent of Americans do not have any money set aside for emergencies. Worse yet, 49 percent of Canadians between ages 18 and 44 do not have emergency savings. Having no money set aside for emergencies can cause worry and anxiety.

If you feel like you will never have enough money if an emergency comes, the feeling might grow into chrometophobia.

If you fear you do not have enough money to deal with an emergency that may come your way, you should create an emergency fund. You need to determine how much you can afford to save and start immediately from the budget above. Your savings plan should accommodate any projects you may have so that you do not save everything for emergencies.

Having an emergency fund makes you comfortable and may ease your money anxieties when you know you have enough money to take care of medical emergencies, natural disasters, unforeseen vehicles, house repairs, and any other unexpected spending.

3. Sign Up For Autopay To Pay Your Bills

sign up for autopay with your computer

Bills can bring anxiety for most people. If you set all bills on autopay, you skip the process of logging into your bank account or handling money. If you pay bills automatically, you will not fear spending the money. Autopay works great when you have a loan because loans are usually a set payment every month.

By automatically paying your bills without any action from you, the process clears your mind to focus on things you can control, like budgeting and saving. Most companies will send you an email notification when the payment is due, and after payment, so you never have to check your bank account.

Even if you are trying to avoid looking at your bank account, you still need to open the account once a month. This is to ensure that there were no technical errors and your bills are still being paid.

4. Compare Loan Options When You Need To Borrow

Going into debt should be approached with caution, as being in debt can make you anxious and trigger chrometophobia. In a few understandable cases, like purchasing a house, you may need a loan. When you need to buy a home, go to school, or start a business, a loan comes in handy.

However, keep in mind that excessive student loan debt can take decades to pay off. Keep this in mind when applying for student loans and focus on borrowing as little as possible.

Before you take a loan, compare all available options to ensure that you have the most affordable of them. However, you should not need a loan to buy a car. 

If you have the best deal on a loan, you will find it easier to manage as you will not spend more than necessary on interest payments.

Once you get a loan, you need to create a plan to pay your debt. A well-researched plan will help you tackle your loan immediately and pay it off as soon as possible.

If your debt repayments eat most of your income, you might feel anxious as you may not be able to keep up with your minimum payments. If this is the case, consider debt consolidation or any other option that makes your debt manageable.

Whichever option you choose, ensure it doesn’t increase your debt or make the mistake of taking out additional loans.

5. Set Long Term Financial Goals

make financial goals

Setting goals is like creating a budget. It helps minimize overspending and gives your savings and your money a purpose. Having a plan also eases your anxiety and enables you to focus on the things that matter. Your financial goals should give you a clear picture of how you will pay off your debts and increase your savings.

When creating a plan, you need to ensure you visualize how your future will look and start taking actionable steps to accomplish your future goals. Consider any personal savings goals you might have, your retirement, and your earnings to create the perfect spending plan.

6. Talk To A Professional

If your financial situation doesn’t change, you might need to talk to a professional no matter how much research you do. If the anxiety is too much and you cannot control your finances, speak to a credit counselor. The counselor will help you find the best option to consolidate your debt.

These experts might also introduce you to financial freedom options you never thought of. This will save you time, energy, and money.

A mental health professional can help you if chrometophobia affects your sleep, work, relationships, and health. The therapist will help you identify the cause of your fear of money and walk you through managing it.

If you fear spending money for a therapist, you can book online therapy sessions, which may be more affordable than in-person visits.

7. Learn More About Money And Find New Sources Of Income

One of the biggest reasons people fear spending money is they feel they do not have enough. Increasing your sources of income can help you minimize anxiety and get your finances in order. You can start by learning more about money and how to multiply it.

You can look into passive income sources such as bonds, stocks, and many others. Creating an additional source of income such as taking a second job, starting a business, or seeking a promotion can help you deal with your money worries.

Psychotherapy And Chrometophobia

doctor treatment for a fear of spending money and anxiety

Psychotherapy comes in handy when anxiety and stress lead to depression. The therapist will take you through cognitive behavioral therapy to identify the causes of the condition and how to treat them.

You may have to do tasks such as writing down the thoughts that lead to your worry to help the therapist identify how to help you. As you do so, you will also learn how to calm yourself.

Do You Need Medication For Your Fear Of Spending Money?

Based on the current treatment options for the fear of spending money, most cases do not require medication as a form of treatment. However, if the anxiety progresses to depression, medicine under the care of a doctor may be part of your treatment plan. The therapist might recommend antidepressants that lower your anxiety. 

If your chrometophobia is mild, you may not need to take any medication. Getting a financial plan for your money and understanding how to control your spending and saving may be all that is required for you to be more comfortable.

The bottom line is if your fear is causing problems in your life, seek help from a doctor.

Taking Care Of Yourself

If spending money makes you anxious, you need to find a way to take care of yourself to lower your anxiety. As a coffee lover myself, it’s important to realize that caffeine can increase anxiety. You also need to avoid illegal drugs and anything else that might make the anxiety worse.

Plenty of rest, daily exercise, and healthy food can help combat anxiety.

If the condition makes it hard for you to relax, find relaxation techniques that work for you, such as meditation and yoga. Moderate physical exercise, such as walking, can also help you stay calm.

When not taken care of, chrometophobia can lead to panic disorders, social phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorders. A panic disorder is when one suffers sudden attacks of terror. Panic disorders can trigger a pounding heart, dizziness, sweating, nausea, and chest pains.

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects people who have undergone life-threatening personal experiences. If PTSD causes your chrometophobia, the vivid flashbacks of the traumatic experience may continue for as long as you try to treat the condition. In severe cases, the condition can make one very irritable.

Social anxiety disorders frequently affect people with chrometophobia. The disorder stems from the fear of being pressured to spend money while in social places with other people. Social anxiety disorder makes you feel panicky in ordinary social settings.

Common symptoms of social anxiety are sweating, blushing, and nausea when in social places.

Tools To Manage A Fear Of Spending Money

create a financial plan to help with money fears

A Money Map

A money map helps you keep your finances in order because it is a plan of your spending and savings each month. Without a money map or a budget, you may not get past the limiting beliefs that you can have your finances in order. If you remain short-sighted, you may end up with the worry that triggers the fear of spending money.

A money map shows you your current financial status and also your future financial goals. Understanding your current financial situation helps ease your 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. By paying close attention to your financial plan, you can quickly determine if spending money on a particular item fits in with your overall plan or not. 

With a money map, you will only refrain from spending your money because you decided not to spend and not because of fear.

Which Bills Make People Worry?

About 25 percent of all Americans frequently worry about money. About 54 percent of Americans worry about their retirement, while 51 percent worry about unexpected medical costs. There is also 36 percent of Americans who worry about college costs and the same percentage who worry about monthly bills.

About 30 percent of Americans worry about mortgage and rent, while 20 percent worry about credit card payments. If you fall in any of the above brackets, your worries might exacerbate chrometophobia. With the fear of spending money, you might end up worrying enough to cause health problems. The concern might also lead to other anxiety disorders.


The fear of spending money can affect everyone. You can be a manual laborer with the condition or a CEO with a six-figure salary. While it is more common in lower-income levels and the middle class who feel they do not have enough money, everyone is at risk.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you may think your money will run out. Even wealthy people can feel like upgrading their lifestyle will affect their future.

There is no single way to manage the fear of spending money. The management method you choose should address the cause of your chrometophobia.

If yours comes from a seemingly unstable financial future, you can correct that by keeping your finances in order and making a plan. You can do that by using a budget or money map. If your fear of money stems from past experiences, you may have to deal with the trauma before making progress on your fear of spending money.

If you can no longer deal with your anxiety, especially if it leads to depression, you need to ask for help. A financial expert and a psychotherapist can help you through these challenges. A financial expert helps you manage your finances, while a psychotherapist helps you to control anxiety.

This post orignally appeared on Arrest Your Debt.