Overcoming financial anxiety – Mental Health Awareness Week

This week (13-19 May 2019) is Mental Health Awareness Week. While body image is this year’s over-riding theme, there are a plethora of issues that are being brought to the fore.

One area closer to our hearts is financial anxiety.

It doesn’t matter how much, or how little you make, I can guarantee you that not only have you experienced financial anxiety at some point in your life, but so has everyone else.

Money – or more specifically a lack of it – can make us feel out of control and thus causes an ongoing layer of stress across our life and relationships.

From credit card debt to redundancy, unexpected bills to impending retirement, all sorts of money-related matters can – and often do – keep us awake at night.

“Being able to talk about how you’re feeling is essential for keeping mentally fit and healthy. So maybe now is the time to stop and to really listen.” – Prince William, on Mental Health Minute

Talking to your friends about money

We have no problem talking about work, family or romance, so why is money often a taboo subject and ignored? Being able to talk about money with your friends or family is important, but unfortunately most of us don’t.

Bringing up the topic of money can be uncomfortable, and you don’t want to offend or judge anyone in the process, but a conversation led with respect and empathy could led beneficial results.

Taking control

Taking control of your finances is key. The first step is always to get in control of your debts and making a realistic budget that you can keep to – only then should you start thinking about saving or investing.

When you do get to this stage, don’t be put off thinking investing is only for the rich – it isn’t. Very few of us can afford to save thousands of pounds every year. But even small amounts can soon add up and give us that all important emergency pot to help us deal with any unforeseen and expensive bills that may come our way.

You may also have some savings you don’t know about. Have your parents put some money aside for you? Do you have a company pension?

Also don’t be put off because you don’t understand all the jargon. If you don’t know what an ISA is, ask. If you don’t know the difference between saving in cash or equities, ask. Allow yourself to learn – no one understands finance overnight.

And set realistic goals. If saving £30,000 for a house deposit seems unachievable, start by aiming to save £100 a month and then celebrate having done so at the end of a year. Then do it all again.

Importantly, don’t keep your financial anxiety bottled up. Start by having open-minded and calm conversations about the subject with those in your life who might be able to help and with those who may even be hindering – the friend who’s up for drinks every weekend or wants to take expensive holidays you can’t afford. Talk to them, suggest more budget-friendly options, and be positive about the topic. Perhaps that friend needs a savings goal too and you can support each other in the process.

If you are worried about your mental health or that of someone you know, a number of ways of receiving help are on this link.

The views of the author and any people interviewed are their own and do not constitute financial advice. However the knowledge that professional analysts have analysed a fund or trust in depth before assigning them a rating can be a valuable additional filter for anyone looking to make their own decisions. Before you make any investment decision make sure you’re comfortable and fully understand the risks. If you invest in fund or trust make sure you know what specific risks they’re exposed to. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. Remember all investments can fall in value as well as rise, so you could make a loss.