We’re all aware that the cost of living has increased significantly over the last year or so. It’s a hot topic in the election and there’s a mention of something costing more than it used to in almost every news cycle.
With those rising costs can come added stress, especially for those struggling to make ends meet. This Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to shine a light on that and provide some tips to help you if your money worries are taking a toll on your mental health.
The signs of stress
The Mental Health Foundation describes stress as “our physical, mental and emotional response to a situation… that we experience as a demand or pressure”. The initial signs are tiredness or irritability, but other symptoms will develop if the stress isn’t dealt with effectively.
These can include difficulty sleeping, headaches or a worsening of pre-existing conditions, a feeling of disconnectedness, guilt, embarrassment, trouble making decisions, or losing interest in work or things you normally enjoy.
Ways to help you deal with the stress caused by your finances
The Mental Health Foundation suggests that you:
Look after yourself
Taking care of yourself should always be a priority, but it’s even more important when you’re feeling stressed. Take time out to do something you enjoy and make sure you’re looking after your physical health. You could try meditating before you go to bed, going for walks, or finding some quick, cheap, healthy meal options.
Talk to someone
A problem shared is a problem halved, as the saying goes. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what’s going on for you. They may not have the solution, but you may be able to bounce ideas around. Or they may just be a shoulder to lean on.
Get expert advice
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, it might help to talk to a financial adviser about your situation and any options that might be available to you. Financial advisers can take a holistic view, help you with your current situation and advise you on the best steps to take so you’re set up for the future. Most workplaces have an employee assistance programme (EAP) provider who offer financial guidance as part of their services.
One thing a financial adviser may suggest is sorting out a budget and doing your best to stick to it. But you don’t need a financial adviser for this; there are plenty of free online tools available. Sorted’s budgeting tool breaks down your expenses so you can see how much is going to each area of your life, such as living expenses like rent and power, everyday expenses such as fuel. PAYE.net.nz is similar, but helps you break down your income less initial expenses like your KiwiSaver contribution, so you can see how much you take home. You can use that as the starting point for your budget and they have automated suggestions for how much you’re likely to spend depending on your lifestyle. You can change the numbers to fit your actual situation, or you can start with a blank template.
Don’t skimp on the essentials
One common theme you’ll see across budgeting tools and what you’re likely to hear from a financial adviser is to not skimp on the essentials. These are things like your rent or mortgage, power, water, food and transport costs. Not only do you need these to survive, but some of these expenses may count towards your credit score, which could affect you in the future.
Talk to your bank or finance company
If you are struggling to make your regular payments, talk to your bank or finance company as soon as possible. Most lenders will work with you to find a solution to help manage your current situation. There may be a number of different options available to you depending on your situation.
This article is solely for information purposes and is not intended to be financial advice. If you need help, please contact Avanti Finance or your financial adviser. Neither Avanti Finance nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any loss or damage whatsoever which may directly or indirectly result from any information, representation or omission, whether negligent or otherwise, contained in this publication. References to third-party websites are provided for your convenience only. Avanti Finance accepts no responsibility for the availability or content of such websites.