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Managing your money

Managing your money

Managing your money is an essential skill to learn to minimise debt, particularly whilst living in London. There are lots of reasons why managing your finances can prove difficult – especially if you have an underlying mental health condition.

We explore some of the reasons why debt can stack up and share some measures that can be put in place to prevent this from happening.

Income

You may have a low income which does not cover the costs of necessities associated with daily living. This may be because your benefits have altered or stopped, you have missed a payment or
not claimed all that you are entitled to. Having a low income puts you at greater risk
of getting into debt as it may mean you lack a safety net or emergency fund. If your income is low over a long period of time and you struggle to manage it, this can mean that debts accumulate.

Life changes

Losing your job, relationship breakdowns and bereavement are all major life changes that can have a significant impact on your ability to cope and manage money. At times like these, we can feel vulnerable to further hits and may resort to short-term and quick fixes such as applying for credit cards or taking out high interest rate loans. This only tackles the symptoms rather than the root cause of the debt which will continue to rise and increase our stress levels and  deteriorate our mental wellbeing.

Mental and Physical Wellbeing

Mental or physical illness may require you to take time off work in order to prioritise your health and recovery. During these periods away from employment, you won’t have as much disposable income but may end up spending more on prescriptions and travel to appointments.

Ignorance is not bliss

You may find it too overwhelming to budget, speak to your bank, calculate your monthly payments or pay your bills. This avoidance will lead to your debt continuing to grow.

One in three people regularly worry about money to the extent that it has a negative impact on their mental health. Debt can contribute to this as it can make you feel:

  • Out of control
  • Helpless, especially if debt continues to spiral
  • Embarrassed and isolated as you feel unable to talk about your financial problems. This feeling is often compounded by the double stigma around mental health and money, which may make it feel difficult for you to confide in others or seek help
  • Guilty due to the shame that can be attached to debt. This is especially the case if your sense of self-worth is connected to your ability to provide for yourself and your family.
  • Inferior and inadequate when you compare yourself to others
  • Stressed and anxious. Debt is often a major factor for those suffering from anxiety, and the two issues can feed into each other, creating a vicious cycle

There is help out there!

Don’t feel like you have to tackle managing your money alone. There are many services in London that can help you manage your money and debt. The Navigator Service at Community Living Well can support you through:

  • Signposting you to specialist services both online and in your area
  • Making referrals to different money management organisations
  • Supporting you to contact these services or speaking to them on your behalf

Start today

Seeking help is a great way to avoid a downward spiral in your health and wellbeing. However there are also changes you can make yourself. The first step to managing your money better is creating a budget. It will take a little effort, but it’s a great way to get a quick snapshot of the money you have coming in and going out. Take control of your finances by trying out our budget planner on page 18.

This story was originally published in the Summer 2019 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.