Please give advice on dealing with money and guilt about money. [Long question.]
How can I learn to feel less guilty about financial decisions, trust my judgment about money, and have faith that I can support myself?
There is some evidence that I am pretty financially responsible. (I am going to give some details here, so you can judge for yourself.) I am currently in my 30s. In 2000 when I finished school my net worth was about -$20,000 from school debt. Now my net worth is just over $200,000. My first job out of school paid about $30k per year; I have worked my way up and now earn about $90k. I worked hard to be frugal and saved $10,000 my first year working. I have good job security. I follow most recommendations for good finances. I max out my 401(k) and Roth IRA, and save some extra outside of that, in good investments that I understand (mostly low-cost index mutual funds). I have an emergency fund. I have a house (an affordable one, with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage). My mortgage is my only debt. I have good insurance, including for the house, car, health care, death, and disability. My accountant says I'm doing well. I'm generous with friends. I give money to charity; currently about 2% of my take-home pay but I'm working on increasing that.
Despite this I feel very insecure about handling my money. I frequently read news, posts, and questions here and on other sites about people with debt spiraling out of control, going into foreclosure, being unable to control their spending, etc. I overidentify with these stories and am convinced this will be me any day. This is in part because my family was financially irresponsible and unstable, and I fear being back in that environment. There are several practical consequences of this mindset: I worry too much about money. I feel very guilty whenever I buy something indulgent for myself, like I am bringing on financial ruin. I think, for example, I have too few nice clothes I can wear to work, because buying nice things makes me feel guilty. I can afford to let go of some of my frugal habits, but I feel guilty when I do. It's hard for me to let myself go out to eat. I haven't really decorated my house because I don't think I deserve to replace the 15-year old ratty couch. Recently I did bring myself to buy a unique, well-designed, durable, and comfortable chair that cost $3,000 - but only after I saved up for it and agonized about it for a year. I love it and will use it for years, but I still worry it was a wasteful decision. And so on.
I also think it's a waste of my time that I spend so much time reading tales of financial doom and imagining it is happening to me. The simple answer would be "just stop doing it", but that's hard. Almost every month I use an online calculator to forecast how much money I will have in retirement, and it always says I am on track to have enough money. Yet I still feel anxious about it.
I know that you think I should see a therapist; trust me, I already have one. I'm looking for other suggestions that are outside the therapeutic paradigm, if that makes any sense. Often mefites have great, creative suggestions and approaches that I never would have thought of - that's what I'm hoping for here. For example, just getting random strangers' take on my financial situation (do I seem financially responsible? will I go bankrupt like my parents did?) could help.
This related post
was helpful, but more insight would be appreciated.