Money and mental health: how to apply ‘self-care’ to your finances

The vicious cycle of money troubles and mental health is a hot topic regularly covered by the media, government bodies and charities.

Type “stress” and “money” into Google, and you’ll soon find yourself immersed in a series of dreary statistics, including research from Money and Mental Health, the Policy Institute set up by Martin Lewis to tackle the destructive relationship between financial difficulties and mental health issues. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, the current cost of living crisis is a key driver of anxiety amongst adults in the UK, with one third of those surveyed stating that being unable to afford to pay their bills made them anxious. A further 20% suggested debt was their main trigger, whilst 15% selected job insecurity or worries about unemployment.

It's clear work needs to be done to improve the relationship between money and mental health.

One idea is to replicate the core principles of ‘self-care’, which has swept the UK’s health and wellness industry, to treat our finances in the same way we would our physical health. With the idea of ‘self-care’ deemed as a means to support mental health initiatives, money matters should lie at the centre of it. After all, stable finances will boost positive mental health more significantly than any scented candle will ever do.

With this in mind, it's time to take the ideologies of ‘self-care’ and apply it to your finances.

How to manage your finances and mental health 

Understand your financial habits

Much of ‘self-care’ is to understand the steps you need to take in order to reach optimal physical and mental health. The same can be said for your finances. 

It’s important to understand your own spending habits. For example, are you good at sticking to a budget? Do you have a savings plan in place? Are you often overzealous when it comes to online shopping? If you’re an over-spender looking to curb your shopping habit, take a proactive approach by removing temptation. Unsubscribe from retailer newsletters which fill your inbox with discount and promotional codes, for instance. If a more robust approach is needed, download a website blocking app such as FocusMe to prevent you from accessing certain online sites on a regular basis.

Get organised

Not the most glamorous of ideas, but organisation is the first step in soothing your money worries. This is because it allows you to stay on top of your finances and reduces the possibility of any nasty surprises later on. Choose a regular time to sit down and look at your money and outgoings each week. Then budget accordingly, ensuring you prioritise bills and any other payments first. The government’s Money Helper service an excellent resource if you’re looking for budgeting hacks. 

Other organisational tips include ensuring all important documents (payslips, bank statements, etc.) are kept safely in the same place so you can find the information you need quickly as well as work to a weekly cash budget. Resist the urge to tap your card and only spend what you take out at the beginning of the week. By doing so, you can visually see how much you are spending and how much you have left. 

Start small

If you’re eager to start saving money but find the prospect daunting or near on impossible, the key is to start small. By saving as little as £10 a month, you can start to tweak your living expenses bit-by-bit in an effort to start saving more. For example, £10 a month could soon turn into £50 as you learn new ways to cut back on unnecessary purchases or luxuries. 

By knowing you’re putting something aside a month this will help you feel more in control of your finances, safe in the knowledge your nest egg is growing.

Talk to your building society or bank

A problem shared is a problem halved and although a building society or bank may not be top of your list of confidants, they are on-hand to help assess your financial footprint and offer advice on money management. 

It is important to keep this line of communication open as they can work with you to help manage your finances better, confidentially. This could be to discuss ways in which to get the most out of your savings account or simply tips on how to save money on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, if you need extra support, they will be able to help you get in touch with independent organisations such as Money Advice Trust, who can provide the further support you may need.

Need to talk?

If you would like further support and information about mental health and your finances, you can find links to a range of charities and governmental organisations below:

  • Money and Mental Health – a leading centre of expertise on money and mental health concerns, founded by Martin Lewis. 
  • MIND – a UK-based mental health charity, offering support and advice to people living with a wide range of issues.
  • Mental Health and Money Advice – a dedicated mental health and money advice service designed to support people with mental health and financial issues.
  • Citizens Advice – a network of independent charities across the UK which give free, confidential information and advice to assist people with money, legal, consumer and other issues. 
  • Money Advice Trust – a national charity helping people across the UK manage their money wisely.
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