Coping with Financial Stress

Most people are likely to encounter some form of financial stress in their lifetime. The causes of financial stress, as well as the effects, fill a broad spectrum.

Whether stress stems from feeling unable to cope with an unexpected bill, comparing yourself to others, or feeling unable to meet financial goals, it’s common to experience a level of financial worry from time to time.

In fact, a study from Perkbox found that the number one cause of stress for UK adults is money. The study revealed that over a quarter of us feel stressed about money every day. Shockingly, the study also found that “0% of the public would describe themselves as ‘never’ feeling stressed about money and just 1% stated that they ‘rarely’ experience this type of stress.”

However, for such a universal affliction, financial stress is rarely discussed, particularly since its effects can be so devastating. Like other sources of stress, money worries can have an impact on both your mental and physical health. Common symptoms include insomnia, feelings of anxiety, isolation from friends, or relationship troubles. In more severe cases, Acute Financial Stress (AFC) can manifest in high blood pressure, chest pain, depression or substance abuse.

Like with most things, the best method of dealing with financial stress is prevention. There are several steps you can take to make yourself more financially resilient – this refers to how well you feel equipped to deal with financial shock.

– experts recommend around three months’ worth of living expenses. Therefore, in the face of unforeseen circumstances, such as medical bills or redundancy, you have a safety cushion and better peace of mind. According to Perkbox, the number one cause of financial stress is “not having enough emergency savings for unexpected costs.” Therefore, gradually growing an emergency fund is a small but powerful way you can improve your overall financial wellbeing and reduce financial stress.

You might also try thinking about what you can change. Do you feel more stressed about money around Christmas time? Or at the end of the month? Do you often splash out, only to feel guilty later down the line? Sometimes, our spending habits, and financial personality more generally, can contribute to our sense of financial stress. Yet when we understand our financial personality, it’s far easier to identify and address behaviours that could be causing us stress.

Putting your anxieties into words can be particularly helpful. Write down why it is that you are feeling stressed. Ask yourself, what is the worst-case scenario? You might find that you don’t need to be worried – stress has a funny way of snowballing, distorting our perceptions of what might happen. But if you commit exactly what it is that’s worrying you to paper, you might not amplify it in your mind.

Talking to someone can have a similar cathartic effect. They don’t have to be a professional – a friend, family member or partner can be equally helpful in lending an ear. Explaining your worries to somebody else can help you to make sense of your feelings. If you have been feeling isolated from loved ones as a result of financial stress, reaching out and being honest with those closest to you can alleviate your sense of isolation.

Seeking professional help is also a great way to improve your financial wellbeing and reduce stress. A good financial advisor will provide honest, unbiased advice that is free of judgement. They can help you identify behaviours that might be causing you stress, offering advice on how to make positive change. A financial advisor can also suggest how to make your money work harder for you, bolstering your financial resilience. If you would like to talk to a member of the team here at gpfm about any of the issues raised in this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch over email or call 01992500261. 

This article is for information only and must not be considered as financial advice. We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions. Investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested.

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About gpfm

gpfm are an independent financial planning company dedicated to the provision of personal, professional, and objective-driven advice for our clients. We have been awarded the Chartered Financial Planners title by the Chartered Insurance Institute for offering high quality, independent and informed advice that meets the needs of our clients.