Could a Lack of Confidence in Math Be Hurting Your Finances?
Written by Annastasia Liu

Monday, April 16th, 2018

I've never been a fan of math or numbers. Flashbacks of my grade 10 math class fill my memory whenever I think of anything math-related. I'd sit there completely confused — math could've been a foreign language to me, because nothing made sense. To my surprise, I actually passed the class (not by much) but the nerves and feelings of inadequacy stuck around.

Is This a Feeling You Can Relate To?

Maybe you're stressed out by the sight of numbers, or the thought of doing what should be simple math makes you nervous and you doubt yourself.

My lack of confidence in math affected my perspective and approach to finances. Because I viewed anything numerical as a weakness, I avoided looking at bank and credit card statements, I never checked my pay stubs and I definitely never thought about creating a budget.

Avoiding something just because you're not confident in your performance or a lack of understanding is not a realistic solution. It took time and effort, but I've made some progress on my way to building my financial self-esteem in spite of my feelings towards math.

Change Your Perspective and Get Resourceful

I first noticed a change in how I viewed my finances when I started working at a bank nearly 7 years ago. Instead of thinking about numbers in terms of seemingly impossible calculations, tests and exams—all the negative things I associated math with during my time in high school—I was exposed to financial math that felt simpler and easily applicable to my life.

I stopped seeing math as an obstacle and started viewing it as a tool to help me reach my goals. I was learning how to calculate interest for our Clients, which made me curious to see how much interest I was earning, and how much more I could earn if I bumped up my savings.

Not everyone is going to find themselves in the same situation, so you may have to be more proactive in finding ways to make financial math part of your everyday routine. Like Kelley Keehn explains in Getting Cozy with Numbers, "little exercises…can add up to big financial wins over time."

Reading personal finance blogs and books, or listening to podcasts, can be really insightful and encouraging no matter what stage you're at in your financial journey. When I was paying off my student loans after graduation, blogs like Give Me Back My Five Bucks and Cait Flanders' blog felt relatable and helped put debt repayment into perspective.

Use Your Goals as Motivation to Overcome Your Fears

As I started to gain financial confidence, I was further encouraged to push myself in an attempt to reach my personal finance goals. Paying off student loan debt, saving money for a down payment on a home, understanding more about investments and mortgages were all things I slowly added to my list of goals. Reaching my goals helped me overcome my reservations about math. I still don't really like math and numbers, but I really liked the idea of owning a home one day, so I was willing to do work with numbers in order to reach my goals.

If You're Finding It Hard

If you're still finding it hard to overcome your feelings towards math and gain financial self-esteem, figure out what can motivate you to make a positive change rather than focusing on what intimidates you about the situation. Start by taking small steps towards building your financial self-esteem and independence, and over time you'll find that things aren't as scary as they once seemed.


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