How to cope with financial stress

  1. Talk to your family
  2. Get professional help
  3. Make a plan and stick to it

At some point in our lives, most of us will worry about money.

Maybe we’ve been made redundant, got into debt, or faced a large unexpected expense. Maybe we’re concerned that our pension pot hasn’t grown as much as we might like, or that we don’t have savings to fall back on.

It’s normal to feel like this sometimes, but if your financial situation is causing you major or chronic stress, it’s important not to keep it to yourself.

There’s still a real taboo in Britain around talking about money – even discussing how much we earn feels awkward. These attitudes mean people may feel ashamed if their financial situation is less than perfect, and that they have to hide it. But money worries can build up to become a real issue if you don’t get help, so it’s important to tackle them head on. Here’s a three-step plan to help you cope with financial stress.

Step 1. Talk to your family or a trusted friend

If you’re wondering how to stop worrying about money, talking could really help. Discussing finances with your family should be part of the dynamic of every household. It doesn’t necessarily mean asking your family for financial help, although they may offer this if they can. It’s more about making them aware that you’re struggling. This stops you from suffering in silence and can give you valuable emotional support.

Sometimes talking about a problem can put it in perspective and make it feel more manageable, rather than keeping all your anxiety inside your own head where it can become magnified. Never feel ashamed talking about your problems. Your family might be able to offer a new perspective on what you could do differently to get your financial issue under control.

Helping kids with uni costs
How to cope with financial stress

Step 2. Get professional advice

There are some brilliant organisations out there who can give you free advice on how to deal with the stress of money worries and get into a better financial position. Citizens Advice, National Debtline, StepChange, and the Money Advice Service can help you;

  • Manage debt
  • Deal with creditors
  • Budget properly
  • Know your housing rights
  • And get all the financial help for which you are eligible.

Sometimes a financial problem has its roots somewhere else – for example, mental health issues can lead to overspending, and gambling problems often go hand in hand with financial stress, for obvious reasons. If you’re facing a serious problem like this, you need the right kind of professional help. Visit your GP who can signpost you towards organisations that could help you.

You can also find support in online forums where you can talk openly while staying anonymous. MoneySavingExpert.com has a wide range of busy forums where you can find support and information on specific financial issues, but remember that advice from strangers on the internet should always be taken with a large pinch of salt. For practical advice rather than just emotional support, you are better off turning to the experts.

Step 3. Make a plan and stick to it

Some financial problems are easier to solve than others. Perhaps your household has a reasonable income, yet you’re somehow still struggling to meet priority bills. This could be improved by better budgeting so you can really see where your money is going each month.

Keeping track of all your spending for a month or two can be a real eye opener – maybe something as simple as meal planning could reduce your outgoings enough to let you get on top of your bills. There are a range of apps to help you budget effectively and overhaul your family’s finances.

If you’re trying to reduce debt, you could draw up a plan of action using this ‘snowball calculator’. By putting in the size of each debt and its interest rate, it suggests in what order you could tackle each one to get them paid off fastest while shelling out the least in interest payments.

Making some kind of plan to overcome your financial problem can be really empowering and make you feel more in control. Don’t ignore those red bills, open your statements and find out the real situation, even if it’s hard. Once you’ve got a plan, the challenge is to stay disciplined and stick to it.

Again, get your family’s support to help you stay motivated.

Written by Hannah Smith – Financial Journalist

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. The opinions expressed within this blog are those of the author and not necessarily of OneFamily.