How to deal with money worries during times of uncertainty 

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are facing new financial challenges which can affect our mental wellbeing. If your circumstances have changed and you’re struggling financially, it's understandable if you feel overwhelmed in this 'new normal'.

As of May 2020, approximately 8.4 million people had been furloughed through the government's job retention scheme. There have also been many redundancies and job losses and even those who remain in work may have been affected by pay cuts, reduction in shifts, or the loss of budgeted-for bonuses.

Combine this with elevated levels of stress and feelings of isolation, and it’s understandable that many people are struggling.

Nearly three-quarters of people in the UK aged 18-34 have experienced wellbeing issues relating to money at some point, according to The Money Advice Service. You are not alone and we are here to support you.

In this guide, we’ve put together advice and tips on what to do when stressed about money - now and in other times of uncertainty.

Understand your exact situation

In order to tackle your money worries, you need to understand what you’re dealing with.

Creating a budget puts you in control of your finances. It may sound daunting at first but this can help you know how much money you have.

Start by recording all of your unavoidable outgoings (e.g. utility bills, mortgage or rent, shopping for essentials etc.) and other expenses that could potentially be reduced if needed (e.g. non-essential shopping, subscriptions, takeaways). Then, compare the amount of money you’re getting in against how much is going out.

If you’re spending more than you’re earning, you may need to consider where savings can be made. The first place to look is any avoidable expenses and see if there are any ways to reduce your outgoings, such as having a takeaway monthly rather than weekly.

Assign yourself a realistic budget on how much you can spend and on what, and don’t forget to factor in an allowance for paying off debts or putting more aside for savings too.

The first few months of planning and sticking to a budget are the most difficult, but having a clear budget can help improve the health of your finances and alleviate stress. In the long term, a budget can reduce the amount of time you think about money because you already know the answer to ‘Can I afford this?’.

For more advice on how to save money in lockdown, visit our guide on 5 simple tips to help tighten the purse strings.

 

Talk to family and friends

Talking to family members or friends can help you cope with money worries. Suffering alone will only add to the pressures and anxieties that you’re experiencing. Although they may not be able to help you financially, talking through your worries can be a huge help.

If you’re not able to visit friends and family in person due to restrictions relating to the pandemic, there are lots of video calling apps available that can help you communicate face-to-face even when far away.

Zoom is particularly popular. If you don’t use it already, The Verge has put together this handy guide on how to get started with Zoom.

Talk to independent money advisors

Although speaking to loved ones is a great way to deal with the emotional impact of money troubles, they likely lack the expertise to provide practical - and actionable - advice you also need.

For financial advice, consider talking to a free money advice service. There are lots of organisations and charities who can help, including Citizens Advice, who are able to offer great advice on money, whether that be budgeting, managing debt or getting through the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Set a routine and make time for exercise

Staying active and having a routine is important for your general wellbeing. It can also help you stress less about money.

With the closure of gyms and outdoor spaces you may have stopped your usual fitness regime. Even as they slowly begin to open, you may not feel comfortable revisiting in the current climate. However, there are other ways you can still stay active - even when indoors. There are many free fitness videos that can be done at home. Also, going out for a walk is hugely beneficial - it gets you moving and helps you clear your head, too.

Of course, exercise isn’t the only element of your routine that is likely disrupted. It’s important to plan your day ahead so that you have a structure and routine to follow. This can prevent you from overthinking about money. A routine is important even if you’re working from home and already consider yourself ‘busy’ - you need to allow time for breaks so that you don’t burn out. Patient.info and Manchester Metropolitan University both offer more advice on creating routines during the lockdown.

Recognising that money is affecting your wellbeing is the first step to dealing with the issue. For more information on how to handle financial worries and the mental health support available, visit the NHS and Patient.info’s helpful guides.

If you’re worried about your finances because you’ve been affected by Coronavirus there are a number of helpful websites you can use including the Money Advice Service or Citizens Advice.

If you’ve taken out finance and you’re worried you won’t be able to meet the repayments in the short-term due to Coronavirus, make sure you get in touch with your bank or lender immediately so that they are aware of the situation. The sooner you get in touch, the more they can try to help you.

If you’re one of our customers and have concerns about the impact Coronavirus could have on your finances visit our Coronavirus support page.

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