While I probably won’t be doing anything to celebrate National Jelly Bean Day (22 April for anyone eager to observe it), April being National Stress Awareness Month in the UK did pique my interest.
Stress isn’t something that we should just make a catchy post about and move on. As many of us know all too well, it can have a major impact on our mental health and wellbeing – and is something we should try to address sooner rather than later.
And when we think about the current cost of living crisis and precarious economic climate, for many, worries about finances, and the state of our financial futures are a huge contributor to our overall stress.
So, while we can do a huge amount about the cost of living crisis in the rainmaker spirit of managing the things we can control, and living life on our own terms, here are ten steps you can take to manage your financial stress:
- Take inventory When did you last sit down, and go through your accounts with a fine tooth comb and make sure everything was clear? Do you understand the direct debits you have signed up to? Are you happy with what you are contributing to pensions, savings and investing? Having the clarity is an important part of your financial wellbeing
- Then build the budget. I know this is one we say often, but understanding what is coming in, what is going out and where this leaves you each month puts you solidly in control of your finances, and can really give you peace of mind.
- Manage the debt. Debt, interest rates and repayments are a sure fire route to stress if you don’t keep it under control. So get to grips with what you owe, then think about how you can pay this down as quickly and sustainably as possible.
- Make a financial plan – and stick to it. Yes life is unexpected and we may need to be flexible (within reason), but having a clear plan with your financial goals, actions and timeframes is a great tool to help you feel more secure about your money
- Focus on an emergency fund. Knowing you’re covered should a crisis strike and don’t need to panic about your finances is a massive reassurance
- And don’t be scared to spend it. The whole purpose of an emergency fund is to shield you from financial shocks. If needs must, don’t be afraid to dip into it. Yes the money will go down, but once things improve you can start to think about rebuilding it again.
- Prioritise what you can control. There’s not much we can do about soaring inflation and energy prices. We can however focus on the things that we can control. Our mindset, our financial resilience, our financial IQ for starters. So focus on the things that you can change and improve and don’t get bogged down with things that are out of your hands.
- Focus on the positives. I’m not suggested ignoring pressing issues. However, rather than thinking only about the things that haven’t gone so well, think about what’s gone right. Did you manage to hit some savings goals? Are you investing regularly?
- And while you’re at it, keep your focus on yourself. Your financial journey is your own. Don’t compare yourself with others no matter how picture perfect things may seem. And don’t add to stress by trying to keep up with the Jones – as we always say, they’re probably broke
- And don’t be afraid to get help. Whether it’s bringing in a professional or picking up the phone to creditors or your bank, if you are really struggling with you finances to the point of it impacting your mental health, please do reach out and ask for help. It could make all the difference to your wellbeing – financial and otherwise.