Chrometophobia: How the Fear of Money Can Affect Individuals in Different Ways

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The Fears Associated with Money

While the primary meaning of chrometophobia is the fear of money, a chrometophobe may be afraid of dealing with finances in general or of financial difficulties. Others with this phobia may fear success or their belief of the corrupting impact of wealth and any type of power that it brings. Another aspect of this fear involves being scared of germs on money, which may lead a person to avoid handling bills and coins. When any of these fears cause stress and anxiety and are persistent, an individual may have chrometophobia. Its symptoms are similar to those of panic attacks, including sweating, numbness, dizziness, and confusion.

The issues surrounding this phobia are complicated and can be difficult to face. In these tough economic times, individuals find themselves losing jobs, homes, and the economic stability that they have worked so hard to achieve. These financial difficulties can certainly make people conscience of each and every dollar they have, or don’t have. Individuals can become afraid of spending money, even on necessities. The pressures of managing money and trying to stretch every dollar can become overwhelming. Fears and financial anxieties can have real effects on mental health and can lead to depression, substance abuse, even thoughts of suicide. If fear and anxiety become this severe, treatment needs to be sought immediately.

The feelings associated with having little money can be easy to understand, but the poor or those with difficulties due to an economic recession are not the only ones subjected to money fears. People who have enormous wealth, especially those who suddenly acquire large sums of money, can experience stress and pressure. While most people would welcome having a lot of money, managing wealth can include its own burdens.

With more money, individuals must consider the higher taxes, investments, and other issues related to the management of wealth. Chrometophobia may make people feel that they do not have adequate abilities to manage their money well, or they may be afraid of losing it through poor investments.

Gender and Money Fears

Money fears do not affect men and women equally. Men feel stress and anxiety about financial matters, but women have higher levels of anxiety and experience more financial challenges throughout their lifetimes. In numerous polls women have cited financial issues as their top personal concern, over family, health, and equality. Although men and women must save for retirement, women typically earn less than men and live an average of seven years longer, so they have to save more money on less income. Additionally, as the primary caregivers of children and aging parents, women tend to have more individuals financially dependent on them.

Several factors contribute to the anxieties women feel over financial issues. Some of these issues involve demographics, while other influences have been instilled since childhood. Not only do women make less money than men, they are more likely to work part-time for lower income and less pension benefits. Absences from the workforce play into income disparity, too. Women are out of the labor force due to pregnancy, child rearing, and elder care. These periods of time away from the job result in fewer opportunities for career advancement, lower overall income, less retirement savings, and lower social security benefits.

Women are often intimidated about making decisions involving money because of long-held false beliefs. For decades, women have been told and believed in cultural stereotyping that they are incapable of achieving financial independence. Some girls have been trained to believe that men will come into their lives and take care of them financially. Since money management involves mathematics, math anxiety holds women back from making financial decisions as well. Women are more prone to anxiety about working with numbers, which affects abilities to make good investments, plan for retirement, and even develop a simple budget. Consequently, women give men the decision-making power and money management responsibilities.

Although these are common money worries for some women, they are not part of any phobia until such fears are persistent, pervasive and compels the person to avoid money or even discussing it.

One Last Issue involving Chrometophobia

Finally, fears may come from being afraid of exposure to germs on currency, particularly bills and coins that look as though they have been in circulation a long time. Some people with this type of fear may wear gloves when touching money. Any type of money fear may require hard work and education in developing a budget and in taking other concrete steps to help individuals control their fear of money.


Anthes, William L. and Most, Bruce W. Frozen in the Headlights: The Dynamics of Women and Money. FPA Journal, 2000.

Korgeski, Gregory P. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Phobias. Alpha, 2009.