Let’s Talk About Financial Stress

Red Star Wealth
by Red Star Wealth

Champion Health’s 2023 Employee Wellbeing Statistics found that financial pressure is affecting 37% of individuals, making it the top cause of stress outside of work.

The Link Between Stress and Our Finances

In May 2023, the Mental Health Foundation found:

  • 32% of UK adults said being unable to pay the bills had made them anxious in the last two weeks
  • 15% said job insecurity or unemployment made them feel anxious in the last two weeks
  • 20% of UK adults said debt had made them feel anxious in the last two weeks

The Office of National Statistics also discovered adults who were behind on energy bills between 14thSeptember and 8thJanuary 2023 were more likely to report:

  • High levels of anxiety (49% compared to 33% of those not behind on energy bills)
  • Low life satisfaction
  • Low happiness
  • Feelings that things done in life are worthwhile

“There are clear links between financial strain and poor mental health and for people experiencing both they are faced with a double taboo. We don’t like to talk about money matters and the perceived stigma about mental health is stopping many of us from talking about our problems” – Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation

“It’s no surprise to see that the cost of living crisis has become a serious source of anxiety for many people across the UK, who are starting each day worried about how they’ll make their finances stretch. Talking about your mental health can be daunting at the best of times, but money problems can seriously compound those difficulties and can add another layer of shame that makes it harder to deal with”– Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Limiting Financial Stress

One thing that can significantly reduce financial stress is having a safety net of money in case your financial circumstances change, such as losing your job or your bills going up (as they always do!) This helps to reduce the pressure that comes from living payday to payday, worried you will get behind on any bills.

Of course, it should certainly be acknowledged that saving money can be a huge struggle for some people, especially those who have very little, if any, money left over at the end of the month to save, and also for individuals who were never taught how to budget or look after their money. For the latter, this is where meaningful financial education could really make a difference, and it is an enormous shame that this is not supplied properly in schools.

Sticking to a budget and keeping an eye on your bank statements and payslips can also help to reduce financial stress. Having a clear idea of where your money is going every month is essential if you need to find a way to reduce any spending and having a budget will help to establish what you are spending on and saving for. Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you have to live miserably and never do anything fun. Rather, it means you can affordably set money aside for any of those meals out or shopping trips without worrying about overspending.

Debt is a huge cause of financial stress and anxiety, as can be seen from the Mental Health Foundation’s statistics. For those experiencing problem debt, getting help is imperative. Free debt advice can be found from any of the websites below, which is a great place to start:

I must stress the importance here of getting help, as burying your head in the sand and ignoring the bills as they come through will only serve to make the problem worse. You should not feel ashamed about being in debt, and you should not expect that it has to be like this forever, because it doesn’t if you work towards changing it.

Some key things to bear in mind to avoid creating or worsening debt are:

  • Avoiding payday loans, as their interest rates tend to be ridiculously high making it incredibly difficult to play catch up with what you owe. If you do choose to take out a payday loan, at least make sure that they are regulated by the FCA to avoid scammers
  • Avoiding Buy Now Pay Later Financing, as it encourages you overspending. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t afford it right now, you can’t afford it at all
  • Paying more than the minimum repayment on your credit card. Try to pay your credit card in full and on time, every single time
  • Creating a debt repayment plan. One way of doing this is prioritising the debts with the highest interest rates first to slow down the growth of what you owe. See if one of those debt advice organisations mentioned above can help with this
  • Get talking! Tell a trusted friend, family member or colleague about your debt

Overall, financial stress is a huge source of pressure for UK adults. We need to ensure that we are having open and honest conversations about it to help reduce the stigma that comes with financial struggles and worries.

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