Who to turn to if you have money worries

It seems like hardly a day goes by without another headline on the cost of living rising.

UK inflation today is reported to have hit a 30-year high, hitting 5.5% in January – the highest levels since March 1992, when it hit 7.1%.

Soaring energy bills have already been highlighted and, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the cost of clothing and footwear also pushed inflation up last month. With transport costs and supermarket prices rising, this is a worrying time for many people.

Money and sanity

If you’re struggling with money worries, you’re not alone. Experts agree that “financial health” can play an important role in mental health. “Indeed, mental health and money issues go both ways, and sometimes it’s hard to pin down,” says Dr. Jorge Palacios, senior digital health scientist at SilverCloud Health.

“For example, feeling depressed or anxious can actually prevent you from doing proactive things like managing your finances better.

“You might have a reduced income due to mental health issues affecting the way you work. You might even overspend to get the brief high it brings, to counteract your depressed mood. In all of these cases, those are the issues. mental health causing or aggravating underlying financial problems.”

It’s worth bearing in mind that while finding financial solutions might seem like the obvious goal, finding mental health support can also be an important part of the picture.

“Given the strong links between mental health and money issues, it is essential to seek support and treatment from mental health services or primary care providers, even if only to explore your symptoms and understand if they might play a bigger role than expected,” says Palacios.

This might help you understand your own spending behaviors, if that applies to you. Or it could just be to help you deal with things like depression and anxiety. Talking to your GP is a good place to start, or calling a charity mental health helpline, such as Mind (mind.org.uk) or Samaritans (samaritans.org), if you prefer anonymous support fast.

Where can you turn for financial advice?

“Money worries, if left unaddressed, can affect our mental health, our [general] health, our ability to sleep and certainly our relationship with others,” says Jasmine Birtles, speaker, writer and money expert.

These can be general financial worries or specific things like how you’ll cope with paying off debt or childcare costs as household bills rise. There are places you can turn to for information and advice, including non-judgmental debt management support.

“I recommend anyone who is starting to feel this sense of panic get help either by talking to friends or family (who are probably feeling the same way anyway) or from one of the great debt-free charities out there,” says Birtles.

“Granted, debt charities are already busy, so you might have to wait, but they’re great at helping people budget, showing them where they can go for financial help and the like. , and speak to creditors on behalf of debtors if necessary.Try Citizen’s Advice, National Debtline, StepChange, Christians Against Poverty and Community Money Advice to get started.

“Also go to turn2us.org.uk to use their Benefits Calculator to see if you might be owed extra money. They also have access to grants you may be eligible for. At MoneyMagpie.com we also have a monthly hardship grant update, so take a look there.”

A sense of control

When there isn’t a lot (or any) of money available at the end of the month, it can be hard to see how you could budget or save more. But even if these are small steps, being proactive can be very empowering, which can in turn boost your sense of financial confidence and help alleviate anxiety.

“There are currently many tools to help [people] budget and even save money. Apps like HyperJar, for example, which helps you save money on essential (and non-essential) bills and even offers you a 4.8% return on savings in its commercial “jars”. Then there’s Emma, ​​Plum, and of course online banks like Monzo and Starling that help you budget and see where you’ve spent,” says Birtles.

“Just put ‘budget calculator’ in your search bar and lots of online budgeting tools will pop up too. This is also a good time to start reading the money pages in your daily newspaper or your source of information. information online. There are also many videos on YouTube and TikTok showing you how to save and earn money every day.”

Karen Barrett, founder and CEO of Unbiased.co.uk, which connects people with trusted financial advisers (fees may apply, but the site is free to use), agrees it can be very stimulating to “take stock”, even if you start small.

“It’s never too early or too late to take control,” Barrett says.

“No matter your age or life stage, look at your bank statements, gather what you have, and think about where you want to be. It can be something small like setting a weekly budget or taking financial advice for life’s big moments – but don’t underestimate the impact of time. The sooner you think about your financial future, the better.

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