Financial Tips: Four Emotional Barriers to Financial Success

No one accidently becomes an expert piano player. In the same way, no one inadvertently retires debt free with enough cash in the bank to live comfortably. Success is always a by-product of intentional effort that requires focus, planning, and disciplined execution. One must work to develop skills, talents, and disciplined plans—even the best planners, players, and savers must also work to overcome the emotional barriers to success as well. Confusion, anxiety, frustration, and apathy are emotional barriers we all face as we strive for success in life. Whether it’s playing the piano or saving for retirement, disciplined execution helps to overcome emotional barriers to success. In this blog I offer four financial tips to overcome barriers to financial success.

Developing and maintaining a solid financial plan can be overwhelming, especially for those who do not work in the financial arena. Those who find themselves confused, frustrated, or stressed out about money should know they are not alone. Although these emotions are common, they can be conquered.

1. Confusion

The most common emotional barrier to financial success is confusion. Simply defined, confusion is a lack of understanding. This emotion reveals itself when someone wants to develop a plan but doesn’t understand the how, what, when, or even where to start. And frankly it doesn’t help when you call a professional in the industry, and they use terminology you are not familiar with. The greater your confusion grows, the less likely you will be to develop a financial plan.

Educate Yourself on the Basics of Finance

Take time to educate yourself on the basics of finance. Create understanding by studying the following websites:,, and Read the following books: Personal Finance for Dummies and Rich Dad Poor Dad. Education creates understanding, which helps overcome confusion.

2. Anxiety

When you feel like your finances are out of control, conversations about money elicit high levels of anxiety. The feeling of a loss of control creates high levels of anxiety. The more out of control you feel, the less you tend to make rational decisions. Arguments in the home, “intense fellowship” in the parking lot of a retail store, the list goes on and on. Anxiety becomes a barrier to success when allowed to reign free. Develop a simple budget plan to see how much money remains after you pay bills. Getting your finances under control helps eliminate the emotional barrier of anxiety.

3. Frustration

The emotional barrier of frustration is a result of unmet expectations. Implementing a plan that doesn’t work for you, receiving an unexpected bill in the mail, or a spouse forgetting to tell you about an expense can be frustrating. Unmet expectations can be triggered by a lack of understanding, as well as a loss of control. Confusion and anxiety inflame the fires of frustration. The keys to overcoming frustration is to manage expectations while also working to communicate your expectations with those around you. Create an “expectation inventory” and review it with those closest to you. Are your expectations reasonable and clearly communicated? Does everyone know what is expected of them? Frustration is a very natural emotion but can be managed with proper effort.

4. Apathy

The final emotional barrier to success is apathy—the feeling of not caring about financial success. This barrier manifests as a lack of concern, motivation, or hopelessness. People might think they’ll never be able to save, so they give up before they even start. These emotions can be the deadliest if not managed properly. Often young people cannot imagine themselves retired; they tend to be apathetic about developing a retirement plan. Remember, no one has stumbled into being debt free. A disciplined approach to finances requires one to care about the outcome enough to achieve success.

Proverbs 21:5 instructs us, “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” A diligent approach to life produces success. People who are controlled by negative emotions find themselves wanting.

I encourage you to execute the plans you have diligently made as you work toward financial success. Work hard to overcome confusion, anxiety, frustration, and apathy. These emotional barriers must not become excuses that keep us from achieving financial success.

Rick Lovall is a senior loan officer with the UPCI Loan Fund and the assistant director of the Stewardship Group.

Resources and Links

Prayer Guide for Finances



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