Take financial control for the sake of your health

J Finance Newbury Money Worries Mental Health Blog

Money problems can affect your mental health and wellbeing, but planning ahead and taking control of your finances can allow you to live your life to the full again…

Money problems

According to Mind, the charity for mental health, money problems can trigger feelings of anxiety and panic, and affect your sleep in a negative way. Unless we are very lucky, it’s likely that most of us will worry about money at some time during our lives.

There are many stages in our life where we might worry about money – whether it’s when we’re just starting out on our own, buying our first house, starting a family or getting ready for retirement, as we outline below.

Life stages

When you first start out, perhaps on a low salary and/or still paying for professional training, there may not be much spare cash. But there are certain things you should start as soon as possible – such as a pension scheme. The earlier you start, the less stressful your life will be later on!

Once you start earning a little more, you might think about buying a home – so maybe you’ll worry if you can save enough for a deposit.

With your first home bought, the stresses and strains may continue – will you be able to meet the mortgage payments, do you have enough spare cash in case you need a new boiler or other major house repairs?

If you decide to start a family, the money worries will change again. Are you going to survive on just one salary, how much is childcare, and how much strain will being the chief earner put on your wellbeing – and your relationship?

Then as your family grows, even if two of you are back in work, you may start worrying about whether you can afford to send the kids to university, help them with a first car, driving lessons and so on. All while thinking about how your retirement can be secured – remember what we said earlier about starting your pension early?! This is why, because as you go through various life stages, there will always be more calls on your money, and it would be easy to let your retirement planning slide.

Negative effects of debt

If you get into debt, those worries can affect the way you live – perhaps you can’t afford to go out with friends, or you dread the postman coming each morning with another bill demand. All these strains can affect your wellbeing – they can affect how you eat, how you sleep, increase alcohol consumption and more. You might find the stress makes you exhausted, distracts you from your work, and clouds your judgement.

The advice from the NHS is to ensure that you keep active, avoid drinking too much, stick to your usual routines, and make sure you get out to see your friends. All of this will be important for your mental wellbeing. Find free activities to do – such as walking, running, outdoor gyms and so on. You may find your local council even runs some free fitness sessions. Keeping your life as ‘normal’ as possible is the goal.

Take control

The secret to managing your money worries is to take control. Yes, it may be embarrassing to admit that your spending has got out of control, that your credit cards are maxed out – but the relief when you talk to someone who can help you put a manageable plan in place will be palpable. And if you can take this attitude to money throughout your life, ie, trying to control your money, rather than it controlling you – your wellbeing will thank you for it! You can find advice on where to find help at www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/help-contacts.

Follow our top tips:

  1. Planning ahead for your life goals can really help you to focus on what’s important, money-wise. With a plan in place, you can also identify areas where you may find it a struggle – and again, plan for that situation.
  2. When it comes to day-to-day living – online banking is the way to go if you want to see exactly what you spend your money on from week to week. Most banks offer an alert service via their banking app. It’s a great way to keep an eye on your spending – and makes it easy to identify the time of the month where you may need to curb your spending to ensure bills are paid.
  3. Budgeting is another useful tool – many people swear by the ‘stuff it’ method, where you literally stuff the money for different outgoings – such as food shopping and days out – into different envelopes, so you can’t overspend! However, if you prefer to keep your money in the bank, there are plenty of tools provided again by banking apps that can help you do a similar thing, but digitally.
  4. Prevention is often better than cure and, if the unexpected happens, insurance payouts can help prevent or minimise debt. For example, critical illness insurance if you are diagnosed with a serious illness or life assurance which pays out on the death of the person insured. These payouts may help you pay bills during these difficult or stressful situations.
  5. Take control of your debts – the scary thing is to acknowledge them. Next, have a plan to pay them off – there are some simple steps you can take, such as moving credit card debts to an interest-free card. That can help significantly, to ensure that all the money you pay off actually goes to clearing the debt, and not just paying the interest. Again, it’s best to get an expert to help you with this – especially if your judgement is clouded with stress and worry. Once there is a plan in place to pay off debts, you will find you can think more clearly and rationally about not only money, but other areas of your life too.

If you would like to discuss financial planning, debt management or any other financial matter, J Finance, which is a member of the Equity Release Council, will be happy to help. Please contact us without obligation.

Established in Berkshire in 2004, J Finance Ltd is one of the leading financial planning companies in the area. We serve clients across England and Wales. If you would like to discuss this subject or any other financial matter, please contact us on 01635 521 300 or email contact@jfinance.co.uk.