News and Analysis | Rowan Harding | June 16, 2022

Protecting your money and mental wellbeing: our expert advice

Money worries can have a hugely negative impact on our emotional wellbeing. It can put a huge amount of stress on our lives, our relationships and even our physical health.

Problems with money can have an impact on your mental health, and your mental health can affect how you manage your money. It’s a vicious cycle that can have severe consequences. And the cost-of-living crisis is only set to make things worse.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, finding the motivation to look at your finances can feel like a step too far. But, taking control of your money is a very positive thing.

A big part of my job as a financial adviser is listening to my client’s worries and life situation, often helping them see they have more control than they realise. This week, I wrote a piece on this topic for The Belfast Telegraph, offering some practical advice for people in Northern Ireland who are wanting to feel more in control of their money and mental health during times of financial strain.

The main thing I wanted to highlight was that however difficult your situation might be, you are not alone. There is lots of support and advice available to help you with your emotional wellbeing and to secure a brighter financial future for you and your family.

Here are ten simple steps to get you started:

1. Seek mental health support: if you don’t feel that you’re in a place to tackle your finances right now – and if you’re feeling very low or even suicidal – talk to someone straight away. It could be your GP, a friend or family member. Alternatively, call the Samaritans on 116 123, or find mental health support services in your local area via the NHS website or NI direct website.

2. Think about your goals: Are you trying to get out of debt, build an emergency fund, or find a way to budget your money to manage day-to-day expenses? Having a clear goal is the first step of your financial journey and will give you a solid reason to take charge of your money.

3. Get organised: this might seem daunting, but it really is a vital part of getting a grip on your finances. Start with making sure that you have your important financial documents in one place. Whether it’s physical paperwork or digital documents, have all your bank statements, payslips, bills and receipts filed in one place that you can access easily.

4. Build a budget: Start with your total income (minus deductions for taxes), then list of all the essential things you need to spend money on each month, such as rent, mortgage payments, fuel, energy bills, phone bills and food. There are lots of free budget planner apps and online tools that can help with this – try the Mental Health and Money Advice’s free budget planner.

5. Schedule some money time: we all have busy lives, but your finances should be a priority. Allocate a regular time each week to think about any tasks you need to do, such as paying bills or checking your bank balance. It might be helpful to give yourself a further incentive by rewarding yourself with some relaxing time after your ‘money time’!

6. Deal with your debts: It’s hard to deal with debt, but handling it sooner than later will help you to avoid more stress further down the line. If you can afford to, set up a standing order to pay off your debts each month. If you’re struggling to pay off your debts, there is help available. You can speak to the National Debtline for confidential advice, or charities such as StepChange or Financial Wellness Group can offer support.

7. Claim additional support: if you’re entitled to financial support or benefits such as Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Carers Allowance or free school meals for your child, claim them! People are sometimes put off by the perceived hassle or even the stigma of claiming benefits, but the extra help can be a safety net during times of financial difficulty.  Citizens Advice has a handy list of what you may be able to claim.

8. Speak to your energy supplier: Being more energy efficient at home is one way to reduce your bill payments, but it’s also worth contacting your energy supplier – depending on your circumstances, they may be able offer support by reassessing or reducing your bill payments. You may also qualify for extra support paying your fuel bills.

9. Look after yourself: During times of stress, it can be hard to look after your emotional wellbeing. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting plenty of sleep and keeping physically active – if you can – will help. Try to have a daily routine, enjoy hobbies, connect with friends and family – and importantly – be kind to yourself. Emotional wellbeing and successful financial health really do go hand in hand.

10. Don’t forget your pension: it might be the last thing on your mind right now, but once you’ve handled your short-term goals, it’s time to look ahead and think about your long-term plans. What do you want your retirement to look like? You might want to think about your financial security should you or your partner need care in older age, or if your children or grandchildren need financial support. Thinking about these things now will help to ease the pressure later on.

This is also a good opportunity to consider the impact that your money has on the wider world. We’ve seen a big increase in enquiry volumes at Path recently, with people wanting to avoid investments in things like fossil fuels, mining and extraction, and Russian investments.

At Path, we offer tailored advice. We can chat with you about your individual situation, your needs and concerns. If you’re looking for advice or support, get in touch with us today.

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Path Financial are leading ethical financial advisers based in the UK.

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