I Learnt How to Combat My ‘Fear of F–king Up’ When It Comes to Money


I’ve never been a good saver. In fact, when I was 18 years old, I got myself into $15,000 worth of debt after (a little too easily) applying for a credit card.

While I place some blame on the bank that gave it to me, having an insurmountable amount of debt at such a young age was not only fear-inducing but also gave me a significant and complex feeling of shame.

Since then, the purchasing of items has become a simultaneously pleasurable experience racked with embarrassment and guilt — something that has plagued me well into my thirties. There have been years (and I mean years), of not knowing what is going in and more importantly, going out of my bank account, with checking the balance, something that has riddled me with fear.

I seem to have always had a terrible relationship with money. In fact, as someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder in various manifestations, having impulse control when it comes to spending is something I have to work through every single day.

A few months ago, I heard about Helix Planning,  a financial literacy company that has an online ‘Money Intelligence’ course. Created by Sarah Eifermann — a woman from Victoria who has dedicated herself to human behaviour observation in the pursuit of personal growth — the course is aimed at teaching you about cash flow, budgets and managing the gap.

“Does your stomach drop when you think about money? Have you ever looked at your bank account and wondered where that last $50 went? Do you dream of buying something for yourself, but saving that amount of money seemed impossible?” the official synopsis reads. Yes, to all of the above.

While the two-week course was extremely helpful in understanding what the hell I am spending all my money on (in a completely friendly and non-threatening way), it also introduced me to the concept of ‘Financial FOFU’ — a.k.a Financial Fear of Fucking Up. And boy, did it resonate.

The idea is touched on in the first course, but because it is so important, it also has its own module which is facilitated by Eifermann as well as an accountant and registered tax agent, Trudi Cowan.

Now, you may be wondering what FOFU actually is. As Eifermann says, it’s when “we are having a crisis of procrastination caused by abject fear of not getting something right the first time,” i.e I botched my relationship with money when I was younger and then became too scared to look at my finances.

To quote Eifermann, who quoted Simon Sinek, “The future is only scary if we try to avoid it”, and this is exactly what I was doing. To put it more bluntly, I had a fear of “failure” but was failing because of my avoidance.

I don’t want to sit here and tell you that this course has changed my life and has made me a financial expert overnight because it hasn’t. It’s not designed to do that. It’s designed to help you to make intelligent choices which you can continue to work on and with for the rest of your life.

Eifermann, who wrote her own blog post about FOFU, sums up the concept perfectly and here are some of her tips on how to prevent it in your own life.

— Learn to recognise those FOFU moments

— Ask yourself questions: Is this a good decision for me? Yes or no and why?

— What are the most negative outcomes possible here?

— What are the positive outcomes and where could these potentially lead me?

— How can I avoid this situation in the future?

— Even though this is a challenge for me, how can I grow?

— Keep a FOFU chart and every time you overcome a FOFU give yourself a reward.

FOFU is not only important for when it comes to money, but it can be applied to other areas of your life that you may be avoiding.

If you’re interested in the course I did, head to Helix Planning or listen to the FOFU Podcast (link below) — it’s worth the investment. Trust me.

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