Stress Awareness Month: Coping with Financial Worries
In honour of Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to explore one of the top causes of stress: financial worries. Of course, it’s normal to feel stressed or anxious from time to time – but with 52% of the population feeling worried about money at least once a week, financial anxiety could be turning into a new epidemic.
One thing is certain: financial concerns can have a serious impact on mental (and physical) health. Whilst everyone’s experience of mental health is entirely unique and personal, money is something we all have in common – and taking control of money can help you feel in control of life. In this blog we’ll look at some of the best ways to handle financial worries.
Tip #1: Create a Budget
Readers of our blog will know we’re big fans of budgets at Cherry Godfrey! Whilst we understand that life happens (meaning that sticking to a plan isn’t always possible), the act of creating a budget can have a great impact on mental health - it not only clarifies where you are, financially, and what the danger points are (more on that below), but also provides a sense of empowerment. The bottom line is this: recording and planning certainly can’t hurt, and it may just help ensure you don’t spend more than you need to.
To get started, make a list of all your essential expenses (like bills), whilst noting the income you have coming in for each month. See how much money – if any – you have left over, and then allocate a set amount for miscellaneous items: food shopping, socialising, perhaps an upcoming trip. Then, try to stick to it!
How you compose your budget is up to you. Pen-and-paper records are fine, though a spreadsheet on your computer may be even better (easier to keep track of and amend). Alternatively, there are plenty of budgeting and list apps available which will allow you to keep your plan on your phone (handy for checking when you’re out and about).
Tip #2: Identify Danger Points
Now that you’ve got your budget – plus an idea of where you might be overspending each month – it’s time to drill down into any danger points. This exercise will help you illuminate hidden issues and plan your next move, so it’s can be a helpful stressbuster.
Make a separate list of the ‘tension’ points – this can sit alongside your budget. Don’t make this list too long, though, or it might feel overwhelming. Put it somewhere safe and revisit it each month to see if anything has changed.
Tip #3: Save Little and Often
If money is already a source of stress, the idea of prioritising saving might seem a crazy one; but the important thing, here, is not to focus on the amount. The simple act of putting a little money into savings, here and there (even if it’s only a couple of pounds) can really improve your mental wellbeing. Again, it allows you to feel you’re taking control of the situation, little by little.
For this task, you will want to revisit your budget. Take a closer look at your spending patterns: what are your ‘needs’ and what are your ‘wants’? Is there anything you can trim from your wants, or a swap you can make to save some money?
Next, once you’ve amended your budget accordingly, work out how much you can reasonably contribute towards savings. Aim to stick to this amount each month for six months; at which time you can review the situation and perhaps set a longer-term savings goal.
Tip #4: Review Any Debts
One key source of stress, for many people, is keeping on top of debt. It’s not uncommon to lose sleep over paying a credit card bill or sticking to a loan repayment schedule; neither is it uncommon to feel concerned that you’re losing track of what you owe (and to whom). With different repayment amounts required at varying intervals, and different interest rates to keep on top of, as time passes this issue can become quite the headache.
Budgeting and setting priorities can also become more of a challenge: do you prioritise debts with higher interest rates, or the smaller debts? Or should they all be treated equally?
Debt consolidation may be a good option for reducing stress and simplifying the process. It can help by:
Limiting the number of organisations to which you owe money;
Reducing your monthly payments; and
Reducing or simplifying the amount of interest you pay.
If you’re interested in learning more about debt consolidation, or would like to discuss your current financial situation with one of our skilled advisers, don’t hesitate submit a callback request. We’re here to help – and will look forward to speaking with you about the many options that are available.