Chrometophobia May Be The Reason You Avoid Your Bank Account Balance

After a night out, checking your bank account the morning after might feel like a frightening prospect. You might wonder: How much did all that fun cost? Nervous to look, you might hold your breath as you pull up your balance. Perhaps you even feel regret, as though you spent hard-earned cash on the wrong thing. While this could be an unfortunate tale, it might not be unfamiliar, either. But for those with chrometophobia, this scenario could be a nightmare.

Chrometophobia is a fear of money, specifically spending money. (It is not to be confused with chromophobia, or the fear of color.) The most extreme cases of chrometophobia could make paying for even the most benign expenses, such as bills, groceries, pet items, or a night out with friends, feel frightening to the point of total avoidance. Even the thought of spending money or the sight of money at all could be alarming. While the degree of chrometophobia varies with each case, common indicators of the phobia include an overwhelming fear of money; a prolonged fear of spending money that lasts for several months; avoiding situations where there will be an interaction with money; and avoiding spending money to the degree that it interferes with your quality of life (via CPD Online College). Serious consequences can result from chrometophobia, should one's finances fall out of control, such as legal issues or relationship problems. But how does one develop chrometophobia? And can it be overcome?

How does chrometophobia develop?

First, understand that having financial problems, or feeling anxious when dealing with your finances, does not always point to chrometophobia. While some of the symptoms of chrometophobia could overlap with feeling money anxious, the two are not the same. Unlike the experience of chrometophobia, having money anxiety is a common occurrence, where a 2022 survey from the American Psychological Association and The Harris Poll found that 82% of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 say that money is a significant source of stress. Anxiety around money could manifest as having problems sleeping, obsessing over your finances, avoiding money-related tasks, or holding yourself to an extreme budget. 

Although chrometophobia might not be based on a real threat, it is real to those who experience it. As is the case with many phobias, there may not be one singular cause of developing chrometophobia. But experiencing trauma involving money — for example, going bankrupt; experiencing long-term stress over finances; or seeing the phobia play out amongst a family member — could contribute to its development (via VerywellMind).

TikTok user Sarah Pacaro (@sarah.pacaro) shared her experience with chrometophobia in a TikTok video. After experiencing financial abuse in two relationships, Pacaro recounted that she was terrified to spend money. "I would almost shake when I would put my credit card in to get gas or diapers," she said. "I was $15,000 in debt after both of those narcissistic relationships ended. Even the thought of money made me feel like I wanted to vomit." 

How to address chrometophobia

While extreme cases of chrometophobia could entail seeking professional assistance, chrometophobia is a fear that can be managed and overcome. Consider ways to manage your finances in the short term that entail the least amount of stress possible. Setting up recurring payments for bills such as your utilities or internet, for example, could mean you face fewer confrontations with money. Next, consider creating a "fear ladder,"a common mechanism for treating fear-based anxieties, of the scenarios which frighten you the most, placing them on a scale of 1 to 6 (via CPD Online College). One step at a time, focus on becoming more comfortable handling these tasks, from least to most fear-inducing. Embarking on an educational journey into both the phobia itself and finances in general could also assist you in demystifying the unknowns that could heighten the state of your fear as well.

Chrometophobia can be a tiring phobia to have, considering the level to which we interact with money on a daily basis. It can also deeply deprive you of living life to the fullest. Make sure that you are taking care of basic needs such as sleeping well, exercising, and eating balanced meals to ensure that when your fear is triggered, you can respond in the best possible way. And do not be afraid to ask for either professional help or support from your friends and family as you work through your fear.