If money concerns are dominating your thinking, then financial coach Kim Uzzell can help you sort things out.
For many adults, money worries are nothing new. We may have grown up in an environment where our family lived ‘payday to payday’, whether on a weekly or a monthly basis. We may be used to scrapping around to make ends meet – it’s how it has always been, after all.
Money worries are not just the domain of the lower income families, or single people just starting on the career ladder, or students. Money worries span all income brackets, all ages, all genders and cultures, and all pockets of society. They don’t discriminate in any way.
Credit available to all
Over the last 20 years, our approach to money has generally changed in so many ways – and we are paying the price. Literally.
Credit cards that were once available only to those considered low risk by the banks, became available to all. Even those with less than perfect credit records could access a credit card, at a cost of course, with the annual rate of interest at eye-watering levels.
Technology has allowed banking to be quicker and easier. Loan and credit card applications can be made on our smartphones with decisions in seconds and the funds in our accounts in minutes.
In addition, ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ options when buying goods, and even services, online such as Klarna and PayPal credit allowing spending to be split over three months, are encouraging people to easily increase their debt without, perhaps, being completely aware of the fact that they are opening themselves up to future difficulties.
Of course, we have also seen the last couple of years as being financially challenging, with whole sectors, like hospitality, struggling, and a huge number of workers being reliant on furlough and uncertainty. In turn it leads to natural concerns about paying the bills, and although many ‘high ticket’ spends, such as holidays, festivals and gigs were off limits for the majority of that time, we easily filled the gap with online shopping and gaming.
Borrowing on the increase
One way or another, over the last few years, more and more of us have found our borrowing levels increase, along with our desire to spend, and yet our incomes have not increased as we would like, and for many they have at times been reduced or even non-existent.
This, understandably, leads to stress as the realities of making repayments come to the fore. Bills need to be paid, savings have already been raided, and income is harder to come by.
And this is difficult to talk about. It is difficult to admit to others, even those close to us, that we are struggling. We’ve been brought up to associate money with success. So if we don’t have money, if we are struggling with money, if we are afraid of falling foul of our financial responsibilities, we feel the opposite of success. We feel a failure, and we don’t want to admit to this.
Money talk in general is still seen as a bit of a taboo – whether you have a lot of it or none of it, whether you are a high earner or a minimum wage earner, we still feel it inappropriate or even vulgar to talk about our financial situation. We’ve also had a couple of years where we’ve just not been able to even be in the same room as those with whom we might have opened up to. This makes that already difficult conversation even harder to have.
We feel as though we are all alone with this, we feel as though we are the only ones going through this. We feel a failure, and we don’t know who to talk to in order to get help and get ourselves out of this feeling of financial stress.
Like most stresses, this can quickly escalate and overflow into other areas of our lives. We start losing sleep, we snap at our children or our partners, we panic when we go to the supermarket in case our debit card is declined at the checkout. We start making excuses when being invited to go out with friends, we start telling little white lies as to why we backed out at the last minute, and we then worry about being ‘found out’.
The lack of sleep and the general feeling of worry can then impact on our working lives. One of the main areas that has the potential to make us the money and solve the financial stresses we are under, then falls victim to those same stresses. We can’t concentrate, we snap with clients or colleagues, and we are in danger of making our financial situation even worse!
It’s not difficult to see why money issues can lead to untenable levels of stress!
So what can we do?
- Firstly, we can understand that we are not on our own. We are not the only ones going through this challenge.
- We can accept that our current position is not simply because we are ‘bad with money’, which is a comment I hear often as a financial coach. If we haven’t been taught about the impact of things like APRs or poor credit records, we can’t be expected to understand them! We need to cut ourselves some slack on these things – we don’t know what we don’t know.
- Take your head out of the sand and face the position head on. If you’ve been avoiding opening your emails or your apps on your phone to check your spending, then now is the time to change that. It’s only when you know what the true position is that you can start tackling it. The unknown is a dangerous place to be.
- Talk about it. We now know that this is not something that is unique to us. Although it might be an awkward conversation to have, once it’s done there is a pretty good chance that you are going to realise that you are not alone in this. Support is available, and the relief when you make that start can be phenomenal. In this instance, it really is a case of a problem shared is a problem halved.
- Focus on conscious spending. It’s too easy to press ‘pay now’ using PayPal or similar methods where you don’t even need to get your debit or credit card out. Equally, with the contactless limit now £100 in many stores, it is easy to tap and go, and not pay attention to the amount that we’re spending. Take a moment before committing to the purchase to ask yourself if it’s really what you need.