It’s more than just numbers… how experiencing money problems can affect… well just about everything.
Citizens Advice Essex, Friday, August 19th 2022
- Financial support
It’s natural to worry about money, but prolonged financial problems, especially debt, can take a toll on your mental health. In turn, this can lead to absenteeism from work and issues with personal relationships.
Worse, according to The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, every year, over 100,000 people in England attempt to take their own life whilst struggling with problem debt.
Once someone is experiencing a mental health problem, it becomes even more challenging to manage their money effectively. Research by Citizens Advice reveals that people with mental health issues pay over the odds on essential services like energy or banking by up to £1550 each year. People with mental health problems may also suffer from anxiety and not feel confident reaching out for help. It’s also not uncommon for people to overspend to give a brief “high” when feeling low. Obviously, this will only make things worse in the long term.
These understandable symptoms and behaviours create a vicious circle that can be hard to break free of.
If you are continually feeling low and it starts to affect your day-to-day life, you should seek help from your GP. But as well as this, some small steps can be taken to improve how you feel about your finances. And if things have really got out of control, help is available if you need it.
Understand your budget
Having a clear understanding of the money you have coming in and going out can help you feel in control of your finances. Putting together a budget doesn’t need to be complicated. Just sitting down and noting down the money you have coming in and where you spend it will give you an idea of your financial circumstances. Search for “work out your budget “ on our website, www.citizensadvice.org.uk, if you’d prefer to do this online, as we have a budgeting tool that can help.
Develop a regular savings habit
A savings pot to fall back on when unexpected bills crop up can provide you with a greater sense of financial security. Once you have a budget in place, you should have a better idea of how much you can afford to save regularly. You don’t have to save much to start. Even a few pounds each week can make a real difference.
Keep in touch with the who you owe money to
Financial services firms and utility companies are improving how they identify and support customers in vulnerable situations. So, if you feel up to it, actively contact the people you owe money to and tell them you need more support. Ask if they have a specialist team or what they can do to help customers in your circumstances.
Get debt advice
Whilst your first port of call should always be to talk to the people you owe money to, financial problems can get to the point where you need professional advice. Citizens Advice and other debt advice providers, such as Stepchange, can now use the new “Breathing Space” initiative, which came into effect in May this year. This scheme gives temporary protection from creditors whilst people in debt take advice and receive support to sort out their finances.
For the thousands of people in debt who turn to help from Citizens Advice every year, it will be a vital first step to feeling better about their finances and in themselves.