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Money worries and how to take back control

Synopsis:

We’re looking at some of the things that can cause financial anxiety, and the practical things you can do to help. It’s all about understanding the patterns – and how you can learn from them.

Money worries are normal, especially with so much uncertainty in the world right now. But taking a little time to understand your behaviours and making some simple changes could help you feel more in control…

Checking bank statements: find a time and place that’s best for you

Finding the right time and place to check your account balance is key. 

First think about when you do it: Scrolling through your purchases last thing at night is unlikely to give you a good night’s sleep. 

Make sure you’re in the right frame of mind or without loads of stuff kicking off around you. Maybe try starting with pay day, setting some achievable goals, and doing it regularly from there.

Whenever you go for, choose a time which you know won’t cause you additional stress. This will entirely depend on the type of lifestyle you lead.

Whenever you do check your account, by being more considered about it you can start to give your balance the respect it deserves. With this, you can also start to notice patterns forming. Instead of just having a quick glance and going into worry mode, any spending you may wish to tweak or completely nip in the bud may come to light – shopping from bed, anyone?

Plus, you can also start to become more aware of things like when Standing Orders and Direct Debits are going out, so you can budget for upcoming events such as birthdays, holidays and Christmas.

Talking about money: confide in a friend

Talking about money is a very personal thing – it’s not something that everyone is comfortable with. We often compare ourselves to others and have a false perception of where we should be and where we think we are.

However, if you’re experiencing any sort of financial anxiety, it can be hugely beneficial to open up about it to a family member or trusted friend. 

This is not necessarily about asking them for financial advice, but just about being open and honest, and conveying what’s on your mind. It could be something small, like if you should ask for a refund.

Whatever the scenario, taking the first step in feeling better about your money can often start by talking things through.

If you’ve no-one to call on for a conversation, try writing down two lists regarding your money: one with all the things you can control, and the other with things that you can’t. 

Focus on what you can control – anything from arranging an appointment with a mortgage advisor, to reviewing what you can afford to spend this week – and tick those off one at a time.

There are also lots of ways you can get a professional opinion. For example, resources like The Money Advice Service can offer impartial advice that’s also free.

Opening bills: don’t bury your head

We all know it’s a fact of life that we have bills to pay. Whilst it can be tempting to ignore them, particularly if they start to pile up, we all know that it won’t achieve anything except a bigger pile of bills further down the line.

If pressure starts to mount and you’re struggling to keep on top of your outgoings, it can be tough to know where to start. When you have some headspace, it’s a good idea to review your essential outgoings, for example your rent, utilities and food costs and your non-essential outgoings. Consider what you might be able to go without or even get a better rate for. 

A diary of your spending might also help to see what you’ve spent and why. And from here, write down when you bought it, and also your mood at the time. 

By keeping a record and making a note of everything you spend your money on, it can help to highlight any patterns. For instance, late night shopping, or when you’re bored on a Sunday afternoon.

The good thing about patterns is once you’ve spotted one, you can try to avoid it next time.

The future: new house, new baby or just next week

None of us can predict the future – even less so in a post-coronavirus world. 

With so much uncertainty, one of the best things to do is to make a financial plan to suit your own circumstances.

In the short-term, whilst most of us are now spending less on things like commuting and takeaway coffees, there’s also many purchases we can probably live without. 

Obvious things, like asking yourself if you really need that item, and if you do, whether it’s vital right now, are worth revisiting. You could even try deleting your card details from the online stores you normally visit. 

In the longer term, things like bank accounts with separate sub-accounts can also help you put money aside.

As recent times have shown, an emergency fund is never a bad thing. By building a little nest egg that you can easily access if needed, it can help you keep some of the worries you’re facing away.

Know your money, reduce your worries

We might all have those moments where we want to bury our head in the sand, but it’s important to take some time to understand our own money habits and shopping triggers. By taking a little time to understand your financial patterns now could well pay dividends later.

So take some positive steps; set yourself a few simple rules. Get to know your money and form a plan for the future. It can only help in the long run. 

With these few small changes, and a fair amount of determination, your worries could be reduced. Just keep remembering that your potential long term reward will likely outweigh any short term fix.

 

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