There are many reasons to be worried about money, especially with the current cost of living crisis, inflation, and rising energy costs heading into winter. There are various tips and tricks on how to save money during the winter months, such as Which’s article on easy ways to save money this winter and Citizen Advice’s article on reducing regular living costs. But how do you look after your mental wellbeing when faced with financial issues?
What is ‘Financial Anxiety’?
Everyone has felt worried about money at some point in their life, however ‘Financial Anxiety’ is when this feeling of worry becomes all-consuming. It is not simply worrying but a constant and consistent fear of the unknown future of your finances, wellbeing, and livelihood.
How can financial anxiety affect you?
Financial anxiety can manifest in a variety of different ways, all of which can go on to affect your mental wellbeing. It is important to understand how exactly your financial anxiety is manifesting and how it is effecting you so that you can tackle the problem head-on.
- Avoidance: you may avoid opening your bills or checking your bank account.
- Compulsively checking your bank account.
- Excessive working: the feeling that you have to do more and more work to make enough money.
- Physical health decline: aches and pains, loss or increase of weight etc.
- Analysis paralysis: the inability to make even the smallest decision.
- Being hasty and unwise with money decision making.
- Over-planning: budgeting down to the last penny then being irritated when you don’t exactly meet your target.
- Loss of appetite.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Mental health decline: depression, anxiety, stress etc.
- Loss of social connections: increased feeling of isolation. Potter et.al (2020) found that this feeling of isolation in relation to financial anxiety was especially prevalent in first generation college students.
- Increased irritability and low mood.
- Substance abuse and gambling.
Create a budget: Create a list of all the essential things you need to spend money on every month. Make sure that it is not too strict but clearly outline everything essential and prioritise which is most important. When checking your bank account, look at how your money is coming in and out and consider what expenses you have coming up – this will stop you being reactive and overwhelmed. For more information on how to create a budget see this article which includes a budget template.
Set a time: Set a time and date that you will do financial chores i.e. every Wednesday you will check your bank account, or every second Tuesday I will answer bills. This will stop you avoiding tasks and create established habits.
Gather all your important documents: Place all the important documents you need for managing your finances in one, secure place. This will make managing and keeping track of these documents much easier.
Set up direct debits: If you are able, set up direct debits to pay for bills and other expenses. This will help tackle any avoidance and late-notices you may be dealing with. Write these direct debits into your budget with the dates they leave your account so you can accommodate for the changes in your bank balance.
Tackle overspending: When we are feeling down we like to spend money to get a rush of happiness, however this can lead to spending money that needs to go towards more essential things. Mind provides some useful tips on how to tackle overspending such as not saving your card details online, deleting apps where you overspend, and distracting yourself.
Speak to family and friends: Speaking to those you love and trust is essential to tackling financial anxiety. It can be hard to speak up about financial troubles but family and friends can offer vital support and help you consider different solutions.
Some useful resources
Citizens Advice: information about benefits, what you’re entitled to if you are made redundant, how to deal with debt, and more.
GOV.UK has information about managing debts, redundancy and dismissals, and benefits
StepChange Debt Charity, or call 0800 138 1111 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Money Advice Service, or call 0800 138 7777 from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
National Debtline, or call 0808 808 4000 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm
Scope is a disability charity which provides advice on managing energy bills and switching suppliers.
Ofgem has information about getting help if you are unable to pay your energy bills.
Being proactive and on top of your financial situation will help alleviate your anxiety surrounding money. A recent study found that people who were financial literate (i.e. actively budgeting, understanding and predicting their financial situation etc) were 12% less likely to suffer from financial anxiety. This shows how important it is to tackle the problem with the support of those you trust and organisations there to help you.
If your anxiety becomes increasingly worse, it is important to speak to someone about it. At MindSpace we have trusted and highly skilled licensed therapists available 24 hours a day. We can help you take the steps to improve your life, no matter what challenges you are facing in complete confidence. Get some MindSpace, call us on 0207 553 5010.