It is unsurprising that the UK population are feeling more anxious. We are in unprecedented times with huge uncertainty over everything including when we can spend time with friends and family, job security and when and how school will resume. Office for National Statistics figures show the extent of this as about one in two people aged over 16 reported a ‘high’ level of anxiety.
Around 5.3 million people are concerned about their household finances and 6.2 million are concerned about their work. These are alarming figures showing people are considerably more anxious. Those who think they are not in a position to save money in the next year report anxiety levels 33% higher compared to those who can.
We know mental health is heavily linked to the state of one’s finances. Living in financial stress can lead to mental health issues problems and those with mental health issues often find it difficult to cope with their finances. There is a viscous circle that only worsens as time goes by. So if you already have concerns it’s important to tackle it now.
Some things you can do to ease the anxiety include:
- Review, review, review. If your circumstances have changed then you need to have a look at your incomings and outgoings. Is there anything you can reduce in this period? Bills that can go down? Purchases that can be limited?
- Make small changes. While you may feel it’s impossible to save, putting just a few quid aside each month can be helpful not only financially, but mentally. Challenge yourself to find a way to save some, even if it’s just a fiver. Sometimes it’s the mental barrier to saving rather than the practical one.
- Speak up. If you are struggling with your finances there is no reason you should bear the burden alone, there are many who are in the same position as you. If you are not in charge of the household finances then ask the person who is. This needs to be an open and honest conversation.
- Lean on the Government. Ensure you are making as much use as you can of the government’s extensive package of reforms to get the population through the period.
- Talk to an expert. There are many government backed services such as the Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service, which are free to use, as well as charities like StepChange or Citizens Advice. For some people getting a third party professional opinion might be the best option and so seek out professional financial advice. Advisers are well equipped to help you make a long term plan.
- Avoid get rich quick scheme. If something sounds too good to be true than it probably is. Scammers thrive in times of uncertainty and vulnerability and so be extremely cautious of anyone asking for your financial details.
- Look after your general wellbeing. Anything you can do to ease your mind and boost your wellbeing in this time is vital, be that exercise, meditation, or talking to loved ones.
Jane Goodland is Corporate Affairs Director at Quilter.