Money worries can have a huge impact on your mental health - financial stress can lead to sleepless nights and anxiety, which can make anyone's day a difficult one. And the cost-of-living crisis is making this situation even more critical for some of us; getting into debt to pay for essentials is a much more common occurrence.
Despite so many of us struggling, money is still a tough topic to talk about. The feeling of being unable to support ourselves and our dependents is painful, and often comes with a sense of shame and fear of judgement. It's no surprise that there's a strong link between money worries and poor mental health.
It's important to remind ourselves that it's not our fault and to take what action we can, to manage as best we can, and believe that it will get better. You are not alone and if you can find someone you trust to talk it through with, it can help you manage the stress even if it doesn't fix the problem.
We've been looking into some of the free resources available to help. If you're lying awake worrying about how you're going to pay for the essentials, then have a look at the toolkit of resources below:
Coping with the rising cost of living
This website from the debt charity Step Change offers advice about managing debt, as well as explaining what benefits you might be entitled to. It includes a confidential online debt advice hub, which can help you gain a better understanding of your current situation as well as offering advice for moving forward.
Managing your money
Build on your money-management skills to help you navigate your financial situation with more ease. This free guide from Finty explores how to start working on these skills.
Find out more about debt
More than 16% of adults currently have problem debt, and this can affect your mental wellbeing. This guide from the Bank Workers Charity can help you understand what debt is, explain why it matters and gives some first steps you can take to help yourself.
If things are tight, it's an essential skill to help you work your way through to the other side with the least amount of stress as possible for your situation. If you aren't a numbers kind of person (and even if you are), this can seem like a very daunting prospect. The Money Helper website has online budget planner to help put you in control of your household spending. There's guidance on how to use it and it helps you analyse your results so you can take control of your money.
If you like using apps, there are a number of good free options available to help you track and monitor your spending. They link up to multiple bank accounts, credit cards and even investments if you're lucky enough to have some. You don't have to continually enter passwords, you can simply reconfirm every 90 days that you are happy for the app to access your details.
Our two favourites are:
Emma - the free version is good for beginners. It analyses your bank account and credit cards, and categorises your spending so you can easily see where you money is going each month. It lists your subscriptions, allowing you to see easily if you're paying for things you aren't using and any bank fees you've been charged. It's easy to set up and use but the push to subscribe to the Emma Pro version can be a bit annoying (if we're being very honest). The pro version (£59.99 a year at time of writing) has additional features such as personalised categories and extra cashback, but most of this tech is available in our next suggestion for free...
Money Dashboard - offers the same as Emma Pro for free. Features include customisable categories for your spending - for example, you may want to group together all payments for presents around Christmas - and the option to add accounts manually. Money Dashboard also graphs your projected monthly spending with a predicted balance at the end of the month which is really useful when things are tight. If you have multiple providers for bank and credit facilities (and perhaps even some investments), the level of customisation in the app is ideal. This one is good for more complex finances and has a desktop version, but it does take some time to set up.
Supporting your mental health
It can be a vicious cycle; if money worries cause stress and sleep deprivation or make existing mental health conditions worse you may need time off work.
If that's unpaid, the money worries get worse. If it's paid, you might be worrying about the impact the time off is having on the rest of your team and how it's being viewed, or how you will manage your workload. This all adds to the stress and reaching out for help is an important step to helping you manage your mind, as well as your money.
Your employer may have counselling resources available via your EAP service, so it's worth finding out if you can feel the stress of your situation is taking over. If this isn't available to you, or you'd rather go externally, the charity Mind have an information telephone line and email you can contact for non-urgent information about mental health support and services that may be available to you.
They also have an information support page with tips for everyday living. Learning how mental health and money are connected might help you if you're struggling. They also include tips on organising your finances, claiming benefits and dealing with services if it's relevant to you. We particularly like this money and mental health toolkit from the Mental Health and Money Advice website.
As daunting as it all seems, the best thing you can do it take action. Taking control of the situation and getting the right support and put both your mind and your bank balance back on track.