Ways to deal with financial stress

There are many factors that can have a negative impact on our wellbeing but one of the most commonplace is fretting over money. And no wonder. Our society is entirely dependent on this issue. There’s a saying about money making the world go round – lack of it can certainly cause everything to grind to a halt. Recent research into the subject has revealed over half of all adults are financially vulnerable, while money issues are the leading cause of stress in any relationship.

Removing this worry from our daily lives is difficult in these economically volatile times. But it is important to focus on countering this type of insecurity. There are ways of easing these unhealthy stress levels, enabling you to cope with money matters far more confidently.

Confront issues immediately

A common issue that can lead to matters spiralling out of control is simply not having a good handle on what’s happening. Whenever credit card statements or red letters arrive on the doorstep to there might be a tempation to bundle these into a drawer to be referred to when you’re in a better mood. Unfortunately there is every likelihood this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude will merely result in drawers becoming increasingly crammed with paperwork.

The big problem with any bank or credit card account that slips into arrears is that late payment fees and interest will be added to whatever was originally outstanding, and these will only continue to mount until the situation is addressed.

The solution? Meet these issues head-on. As soon as you receive an unexpectedly large credit card statement or you go over the overdraft limit on your current account, get in touch with the provider straight away. Explain you are having difficulties and they will appreciate your honesty. You are hardly likely to be the first person who has broached the subject with them on any given day.

If the repayments are becoming particularly burdensome you can touch base with independent money advice agencies who will liaise between you and the relevant body. An affordable repayment plan can be agreed, enabling fees and charges to be frozen until the situation has been retrieved.

Prepare a budget

It would be far more preferable to be proactive with your financial affairs and avoid any complications in the first place. By far the best way to do this is to create some sort of formal budget plan for your household. This doesn’t have to be an all-singing, all-dancing spreadsheet, complete with formula automatically calculating income and outgoings. But you do need a basic notion of everything you are liable for: direct debits, standing orders, insurance premiums, monthly utility bills, day-to-day expenses, and so on. This can be set against incoming amounts: wages or salaries, bonuses etc.

When you have everything down in black and white you can begin accounting for those unexpectedly severe one-offs that can derail you: funeral expenses, car repairs, home maintenance. Whenever you have extra funds at the end of a month you can manage this, ensuring you shift the surplus into a savings account. With robust budgeting you can ensure your finances are watertight. You can even make plans for those little luxuries that spice up your life: weekends away, concert tickets or restaurant outings. It’s always useful to keep so much of this extra cash aside as part of a ‘rainy day fund.’

Seek expert advice

When you do recover from any temporary glitch and you find yourself with some spare funds, avoid the temptation to simply blow it on frivolous purchases. A useful piece of advice is to go to a professional financial adviser who will be able to talk you through the different options that are available to you. There are scores of investment opportunities out there, and this person will have a far better idea of the pros and cons of any scheme.

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