In the midst of energy price hikes, rising food costs and a looming recession, many of us are feeling worried about money. In times like these, the close relationship between our financial wellbeing and our mental wellbeing is more noticeable than ever. So we asked two wellness experts to share their tips for managing money worries.
Amanda Kruger LPC (Licensed Professional Therapist) is a financial therapist based in Colorado, USA. Her practice – Copper Well Counselling – is focussed on the relationship between money and mental health. She specialises in understanding the impact that trauma and neurodivergence can have on financial wellbeing.
Eileen Adamson is a financial wellbeing coach based in Scotland. Her blog, Your Money Sorted, has been shortlisted for several awards in the UK. The blog includes lots of free resources to help you with everything from building an emergency fund to becoming debt-free. You can hear Eileen chatting about money on the BBC Clever About Cash podcast and our own podcast LOQPOD.
How can people take care of their mental wellbeing in the current economic climate?
It’s no secret that money is tight for many of us at the moment. In the UK, the news is dominated by the conflict in Ukraine, climate change and the cost of living crisis. So with additional financial pressures, how can people take care of their mental wellbeing?
“It is important to remember, all you can really control is yourself”
Financial therapist, Amanda Kruger, reminds us to focus on the things in life that we can influence. “It is important to remember, all you can really control is yourself. You have limited control over the economy, political leaders, the climate, and the behaviour of others. Focus on the things that are in your control. Start with the basics, and take care of your physical and mental health as best you can.”
“Try to take time away from social media”
Money coach Eileen Adamson says, “It’s essential to limit your exposure to the news!” It can be hard to remember to enjoy the simple things in life when our phones are burning a hole in our pockets. When “...everywhere we look is doom and gloom…” we can become much more stressed and worried about life. So remember to give yourself a break.
Eileen’s advice is to, “Take time away from social media and do things that increase wellbeing. Reading, gardening, spending time with friends, exercise and fresh air are all so good for helping with positive mental health.”
“Invest in life-giving relationships and hobbies that bring you joy.”
Amanda reminds us of the importance of enjoying life. “Invest in life-giving relationships and hobbies that bring you joy. This can help you prevent and manage anxiety, depression, and stress that might arise for you as we ride this economic rollercoaster.”
Amanda also believes that “...having a plan can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.” She suggests meeting with a “financial advisor, therapist, or coach to discuss a plan for how to manage your finances.”
In the UK, there are lots of free resources available that might help you. So if meeting with a financial advisor, therapist, or coach doesn’t fit your budget at the moment, make sure you check out the list at the end of this blog.
How can people deal with feeling overwhelmed by their financial situation?
The last few years have been full of financial pressures. According to the Office for National Statistics, around 89% of adults in Great Britain feel that their cost of living has increased. And with warnings of prices getting even higher it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
So what steps can people take to improve their financial situation in these circumstances?
“First take a deep breath, check in, and make sure your physical needs are met.”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Amanda says, “you are far from alone.”She empathises with those of us that find approaching our finances difficult:
“How does something that is supposed to be so straightforward feel so messy!? As always – first take a deep breath, check in, and make sure your physical needs are met. Are you hungry, tired, dehydrated? Don’t try to tackle an emotional and overwhelming obstacle until those needs are met.”
“Schedule a money date [...] to take a look at your finances.”
As a society, we’re getting better at opening up about our personal lives. We know the importance of chatting to friends and family when we’re struggling with our mental or physical wellbeing. So why don’t we do the same when it comes to money worries?
Amanda says that scheduling a “money date” with someone you trust could help you overcome the temptation to avoid dealing with financial overwhelm:
“Do your best not to avoid your finances. I know avoiding is a coping skill that made you feel safe in the past, but it generally only makes things worse. Team up with a partner, friend, financial coach, or financial therapist [...] to start to take a look at your finances.”
“No matter what your financial landscape currently is, you deserve a life that brings you joy…”
Amanda reminds us that everyone’s relationship with money is different. She says:
“We all have a personal money journey to walk and where you are financially says nothing about your intelligence or moral character. No matter what your financial landscape currently is, you deserve a life that brings you joy and you are capable of working on your goals. You are worth more than your net worth.”
How can people avoid feeling isolated with their worries?
Sometimes – especially when we feel overwhelmed – it can be easy to feel like we have to deal with all of our money problems on our own. And when we’re short on cash, we might be tempted to avoid socialising all together. But we asked Eileen and Amanda for their tips to help people avoid feeling isolated with their worries.
“Talk to friends and family”
Eileen encourages people to reach out to friends and family for a chat. She reminds us that, “lots of people are feeling the strain too, so sharing these worries can be really helpful.”
You never know. The conversation you start might help someone else to feel less isolated too!
Amanda empowers us to, “Be bold and make the first move in the money conversation.” When we’re feeling isolated, it can be easy to forget that money is universal. Bear in mind that, “...everyone is impacted by finances. It's actually a great place to start because financial worry is something we all have in common.”
“I know money feels scary to talk about [...], but there are many groups […] dedicated to talking about money.”
Talking about money can be difficult if you’re not used to it. Amanda acknowledges that money is, “still considered taboo in some contexts.” But joining a group is a great way to get started:
“There are many groups both virtual and in person that are dedicated to talking about money. I am a part of two women’s groups that focus on financial wellness, and it has been incredibly powerful and beneficial. Search for a group that accepts people regardless of where they are in their financial journey.”
“If you feel you need more support, Citizens Advice have online and in person advisors to help you”
There might be times when you need professional support to manage your money worries. Family and friends are a great starting point, but Eileen recommends contacting Citizens Advice. (You’ll find more information about this free service at the end of this blog.)
Amanda recommends talking to a financial coach or therapist: “These professionals specialise in aligning with your money experience so you don’t have to walk it alone. Many therapists and coaches also offer groups!”
How can people help a friend or family member who is having financial difficulties without having to give financial support?
When a friend or family member is facing financial difficulties, it can feel like the only meaningful thing we can do is offer financial support. But that’s not always possible. And we might be able to be more helpful in other ways.
"Just be there to listen”
Simply being there to listen could help a friend or family member facing financial difficulties. Eileen believes that opening up a conversation could help you work out any practical help your loved one might need. She suggests, “If they are struggling to create a budget, can't access the internet or don't know where to look for support, you could perhaps assist them in this way.”
“We all struggle with finances from time to time, despite how our lifestyles look.”
Don’t underestimate the value of empathy. Amanda says, “Be a listening ear and relieve them of money shame. Don’t offer advice, just listen and let them know we all struggle with finances from time to time, despite how our lifestyles look. Telling a loved one that you have had your own complex relationship with money can be all it takes to turn things around.”
“You giving a loved one money will not necessarily change the way they feel about it or interaction with it.”
Financial wellbeing is about more than your bank balance. So if your friend or family member has a difficult relationship with their money, Amanda suggests encouraging them to seek professional support, such as from a financial therapist or coach.
What support is available for people who may be struggling with financial stress?
If you’re feeling stressed about money, it can feel like you’re going around in circles. When we’re stressed, it’s often more difficult to stay on top of our finances. And that in turn can cause more financial stress. So what can we do to break the cycle?
Feel more in control of your finances with Money Helper
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) says:
“[We’re] here to ensure every person feels more in control of their finances throughout their lives: from pocket money to pensions. MaPS delivers free and impartial money and pensions guidance to the public through MoneyHelper, which recently brought together legacy services the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise. MoneyHelper is a single destination to make peoples’ money and pensions choices clearer and put them in control.
If you want to speak to someone about your finances, or if you’re struggling with money, you can receive non-judgemental, free guidance from MoneyHelper on 0800 137 7777 or by visiting www.moneyhelper.org.uk.”
Speak to Citizens Advice
As Eileen recommends above, if you’re worried about money, it’s worth speaking to Citizens Advice.
Citizens Advice is a network of independent charities in the UK that offer free and independent advice on a wide range of topics, including money. You can contact them online, over the phone, or in person.
Get help from your GP
If you feel that your financial worries are affecting your wellbeing, it’s worth speaking to your GP.
Your doctor will have access to information about some of the support that’s available locally.
Call the Samaritans
Remember that you don’t have to deal with your money worries on your own. If you feel like you need to talk to someone now, you can call the Samaritans. Their free helpline is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.