Six ways your imposter syndrome could be costing you money

Always feel like you don’t deserve good stuff?

Ever worry that you’re a massive fraud, and one day people will discover the ‘truth’?

If you’re nodding, you’ve got a classic case of imposter syndrome – and it sucks.

Not only does imposter syndrome hold you back and cause you mental anguish, it turns out it can also cost you money – £5,270 a year, if one estimate is to be believed.

So says Alina Jaffer, a financial expert at Virgin Money, who breaks down six ways your imposter syndrome is wrecking your finances…

You don’t go for payrises or promotions

If you think you’re secretly rubbish at your job, you’re not likely to put yourself forward for a promotion or ask for more money.

And as we know, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Thus, imposter syndrome might mean you’re not getting the salary you deserve.

Psychologist Dr Jo Gee suggests: ‘Imposter syndrome is often linked to money and can lead people to downplay successes, question their salary and even avoid promotions.

‘If you notice you’re having imposter thoughts around promotion, challenge these thoughts by writing down what a trusted colleague at work might say to you.’

You’re plagued by FOMO

‘Imposter syndrome can cause us to overcompensate in social settings, making us feel the need to prove ourselves or justify our friendships,’ says Alina. ‘Therefore, imposter syndrome sufferers may experience FOMO more regularly.

‘Research reveals that more than a third (37%) of Brits feel jealous when their friends go out without them and the average Brit will spend £353 a year on events they did not want to attend.

‘Consequently, your FOMO could be costing you over £300 every year.’

How do you handle this tricky cycle? Dr Jo says it’s all about building your confidence so you can say ‘no’ without stressing.

‘If you experience FOMO, we suggest saying ‘yes’ to a limited number of social events that you want to attend,’ she says. ‘Using Likert scales where we rate our enthusiasm for a social event (from one “I don’t want to go”; to 10 “I really want to go”), can help to banish FOMO and guide us to what we really want to engage with.’

You’re always spending on the latest trends

When you’re lacking in self-confidence, it’s tempting to fill the gaps by buying the coolest, trendiest stuff and hoping that’ll cover up your perceived shortcomings.

That’s going to cost you.

Dr Jo explains:’“Imposter syndrome makes it impossible for us to internalise our successes and, as a result, we can overly focus on our external facade to help us feel more confident. However, studies have shown that those with imposter syndrome who compensate through fashion report greater feelings of inauthenticity and lower scores in confidence.

‘Try ditching the catwalk for a mindfulness app. This practice has been shown to create long-lasting brain changes, which are even visible on MRI scans!’

You’re guilty of overworking

Alina says: ‘Are you a perfectionist at work? Imposter syndrome can result in individuals striving to meet impossible standards.

‘This immense pressure can lead to burnout and consequently you might end up stagnating your career progression further and potentially missing out on that pay rise.’

We’d note that overworking can up your spends in other areas, too.

Think about it: when you work well past the time you should, the last thing you’ll want to do is cook yourself a meal… so you end up constantly spending cash on pricey takeaways.

When you’re stressed, your decision-making takes a nose dive, meaning you’ll be more prone to impulse buys and silly spends.

And you’re likely to lean on vices to undo the effects of overworking, whether that’s bottles of booze or cigarettes. It all adds up.

You’re too scared to ask for financial advice

Dr Jo says: ‘As people with imposter syndrome fear being caught out, they rarely ask for help.’

This fear of being outed as not knowing everything can mean you’re losing money left and right, and getting into a debt spiral as you’re too nervous to admit you need support.

‘If you suffer from imposter syndrome, set yourself a challenge to ask someone for help each month and make sure one month’s request for support revolves around your finances,’ recommends Jo.

You play it safe with your career

When you have imposter syndrome, you likely feel so lucky to have your current job that you wouldn’t dare be brave enough to go for something else – or do something riskier, like going freelance or starting your own business.

‘More than three million UK workers are looking to set up their own businesses in 2022 and almost half dream of becoming their own boss,’ says Alina. ‘However, imposter syndrome can make taking the plunge feel impossible.

‘Research reveals that side hustles can earn individuals an average of £4,500 a year, which you may miss out on should your anxiety hold you back.’

Dr Jo adds: ‘Imposter syndrome can hold people back from starting up their own businesses as the feelings of inadequacy can trigger our freeze mechanism, leading to procrastination and downplaying of abilities.’

What to do

If you read the above and now feel even worse, try not to sink into that pit of despair.

Instead, use this information as the push you need to make a change and seek support.

Alina says: ‘In the current climate, regularly checking in on your finances can be daunting but it’s important to remember that it’s not unusual to find yourself feeling anxious or weighed down by money worries.

‘Instead of punishing yourself for any financial mishaps, focus on financial recovery and remember you can always seek professional advice if you’re not sure how to start.

‘Several financial advice services are available, whether you’re looking for guidance on managing debt, creating a budget, claiming benefits, or any other money concerns.’

We’d add a suggestion to that – if imposter syndrome is taking over your life, talk to a mental health professional. Let’s get to the root of the issue, unlearn these self-defeating thoughts, and start going for what we really want. A little extra cash will be a bonus.

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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