Your bank balance does not determine your self-worth, but let’s not get it twisted: Insecurity around money is real, because either you feel like you will never have enough or you fear that you’re mishandling the cash you do have. Shannon Lee Simmons, certified financial planner and author of Worry-Free Money, explains the way to financial fearlessness, one dollar at a time.

1. Stop budgeting the traditional way…

“Traditional budgets set you up for failure. They aren’t realistic for modern life and keep money at the forefront of your brain all the time. This keeps you in scarcity mode and constantly stressing. Don’t spend outside your means, but stop budgeting every single dollar. All you need is a line that separates money you can spend from money you can’t spend each month. Know your ‘hard limit’ and spend on whatever you like — guilt-free!”

2. …and spend on what makes you happy.

“Sometimes spending money makes you feel amazing, while sometimes it’s scary or you resent it — like those times when you go out for drinks with friends and $40 is affordable for everyone but for you it means you won’t be able to pay your rent. If you feel like some of your money is actually for you and your own enjoyment, you’re less likely to give up on financial plans altogether because it won’t feel so suffocating and restrictive.”

3. Ditch the guilt.

“I often meet clients caught up in yo-yo budgeting. They go over budget. They give up. They feel guilty. Repeat. We need to be kind to ourselves. Life is expensive. Remember that a little goes a long way. Map out where you stand financially — what’s coming in and going out each month, what you want to save for — and then take one small action, even if it’s putting $25 extra to debt or savings. You need a few small wins to get you excited about your money again.”

This article first appeared in the February 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.