How To Reduce Your Financial Stress

By Leeds Credit Union

Although the economy is beginning to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, money worries continue to be the number one cause of stress for people in the UK.

With International Stress Awareness Week (ISAW) running from November 1st - 5th and the last 18 months having been stressful enough, we want to show you some of the best ways to reduce your financial stress.

What Is International Stress Awareness Week And Why Is It Important?

International Stress Awareness Week stems from the popularity of Stress Awareness Day, which was launched in 1998. The campaign aims to raise awareness about stress prevention, stress management and the stigma associated with stress and mental health issues.

Although not the sole focus of ISAW, financial stress is extremely topical at the moment, with a significant number of people struggling with financial issues and/or debt as a result of losing their jobs or being placed on a furlough scheme at less than 100% pay as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It can be easy for the threat of ongoing debt or insufficient income to result in difficult feelings and mental and emotional distress. Fortunately, there are several ways to combat financial stress - read on to find out more.

Be clear about your financial situation

If you're struggling to make ends meet and need a plan to solve your money problems, start by using your receipts and bank statements to detail your income, debt and spending over a monthly period so you know exactly what you have coming in and going out. 

Remember to include your salary, any bonuses, benefits, alimony and child support. Similarly, keeping track of every expenditure is important so don't forget to include things like buying a coffee or paper on the way to work - understanding how and where you spend your money is vital if you're going to address your financial problems. Likewise, when calculating your debts, include past-due bills, late fees and any money you owe family or friends. 

Next, identify spending patterns and triggers. For example, does a stressful day at work often result in you going on a spending spree? Once you’re aware of your triggers you can find healthier ways of coping with them.

Draw up a budget

Setting and adhering to a monthly budget will help you keep track of your finances and help you regain control. 

Your budget should include everyday expenses such as rent/mortgage, utility bills, travel costs and groceries, as well as things like car insurance and tax bills (divided by 12 if you pay annually). Once it's drawn up, review it every month to see where you can trim more off your outgoings. Look to make small changes and try not to be tempted by impulse buys - small, regular outlays soon add up.  

When your budget is ready, prioritise your spending. Food, housing and keeping the lights and heating on should all be top of your list.

There’s also our useful Money and Budgeting Advice Service team who work in partnership with Housing Leeds, helping tenants who are struggling to budget their money and pay their bills.

Stay active

If you have some spare time, do some form of exercise - physical activity is a great way to improve your mood when you're feeling low. Keep an eye out for local sports clubs or exercise classes you could join.

Discuss your situation with a friend

A problem shared is a problem halved, so try to maintain an active social life and talk about your financial problems with a close acquaintance. Facing situations like this head-on generally makes them easier.

Stick to your routine

If you're currently out of work, it can be tempting to spend longer in bed in the morning but, as much as possible, you should continue to get up at your usual time and stick to a routine. Keeping busy will stop you from dwelling on your situation, whereas losing your routine can result in bad habits developing, such as eating at irregular times and intervals, which can result in physical problems.

Don't turn to unhealthy habits to cope

For people with money worries, becoming over-reliant on alcohol or drugs can become a problem. Drinking more than usual as a coping mechanism should be avoided at all costs - it is more likely to add to your stress than diminish it.

Help and support is available

No matter how bad things seem, there is always a way out of financial difficulty, so don't give yourself a hard time - anyone can get into financial difficulties.

If you need help coping with debt, Citizens Advice can help.

Other organisations offering helpful advice online include: