how to protect your money and your sanity

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As the cost of living increases, we look at how you can take care of both your money and your sanity

Lately it feels like we’re in a tide of increasing pressure as we’ve had to face one thing at a time. And with the cost of living rising, many of us will be concerned about the immediate future.

The Resolution Foundation think tank estimates that in 2023 an additional 1.3 million people, including 500,000 children, will fall into absolute poverty — and middle earners are also likely to feel the strain as bills and monthly expenses soar.

It goes without saying that this will have an impact on our mental health as financial well-being and mental health are linked. In a survey of more than 1,000 people by the charity Mind, 73% said that poor mental health made them more difficult to manage their money, and 74% also said that difficulties with money management then affected their mental health Health.

“If you live with mental illness you may have a lower income, face higher expenses or find it difficult to stay within your budget, while money worries can also put pressure on your mental health, leading to increased stress, worry and anxiety Laura Peters, Head of Mental Health and Money Advice at charity Mental Health UK, explains. “This can create a worrying cycle that can affect other aspects of your life, such as: B. Your relationships, your work or where you live. Improving your financial security and understanding how best to manage your money can have a tremendously positive impact on your mental health.”

money where your mouth is

But to be honest, just talking about money can be difficult, let alone taking steps to deal with it. Talking about it is of course the first step to getting help – both practical advice and emotional support – but our fears and anxieties are often an additional barrier.

“There are many reasons why people find it difficult to talk about money worries,” says Laura. “Parents or carers may feel pressured to support loved ones who rely on them. Some of us may feel like trying to keep up with friends even though we can’t afford to compare their spending habits. And many people in debt tell us they feel very ashamed and stigmatized in their situation.”

In a 2020 study by the Money & Pensions Service, which surveyed more than 5,200 people across the UK, researchers found that almost half of the adult population (48%) said they had checked in once a week or more in the past month worried about money. It would be fair to say that figure could have risen in 2022, but the survey also looked at the most common reasons British adults avoid talking about their financial situation, finding ‘shame/embarrassment’, ‘not burdening others want”, “They weren’t brought up that way”, “It causes stress or anxiety” and “Thinking they should be more successful than they are” were among the main causes.

“Money worries can make people feel really isolated, but a lot of people have money worries at some point in their lives,” says Laura. “You are not alone and it is important to know that support is available to you. There are many helpful tips on the Mental Health and Money Advice website.

“It can also be helpful to open up to friends or family, perhaps over a walk or over a cup of tea – it’s not something you want to bring up just before splitting the dinner bill or realizing you’re at the row is one round pure. If you can share how you’re feeling, hopefully they can not only offer you emotional support but also suggest plans so you can spend time together without breaking the bank.”

Dealing with a financial shock

“Financial shocks will look different for all of us,” says Laura. “It can be a costly bill that you don’t have a budget for, an important item that breaks and needs to be replaced, or a major life event like a failed relationship, job loss, or the birth of a baby.

“You may want to avoid thinking about the financial issues this could cause, but we would always advise someone going through such a shock to address the issue as soon as possible so you can get help creating a plan that will.” You can help them you master the situation.”

In an ideal world, we would have rainy day savings to cover these types of things. But that’s not always possible for everyone, and when financial shocks hit, it can be easy to panic. As tempting as it may be, try to stay away from high-yield payday loans or credit card debt and instead take a look at your expenses to see if you’re overpaying for something (e.g., if you’re overpaying) . your phone contract?) or areas you could reduce until things even out a bit more.

“If you’re comfortable doing this, you may find it helpful to open up to friends or family so they can help support you through this and take the pressure off you of having to keep up appearances – which isn’t Whether it’s going to help with your financial situation or your mental health,” adds Laura.

Hard times

As many of us find ourselves under financial pressure in the year ahead, it’s important to be realistic about what lies ahead and how we may need to adapt. But being realistic also means letting go of shame and stigma as much as possible. Money matters are complex and depend on many different factors, so financial problems are never simply a case of “bad” management.

And, one last reminder, you really don’t have to deal with money problems alone. Whether you’re reaching out to your support network or organizations that can advise you on your next steps, help is free.

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In the exercise

Laura Peters, Head of Mental Health and Money Advice at Mental Health UK shares the following tips:

“With the cost of living rising, many people are concerned about their money and may also be depressed. Sometimes anxiety and depression can put us into an avoidance cycle – where we try to avoid the problem, but this only increases our anxiety in the long run. Filling out a budget form will help you get a better idea of ​​your finances. Break it down into smaller tasks if it feels too daunting at first.

“If you find you’re going out more than you’re coming in, get free, independent advice from MoneyHelper. Find helpful exercises to do with our mental health and money toolkit.

“If you’re worried almost all the time, you should talk to your GP, who may refer you to talk therapy or prescribe medication.”

Visit moneyhelper.org.uk


If you’re struggling with stress from financial concerns, speak to an experienced, qualified therapist or visit the counseling directory.

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