2020 has become synonymous with economic disaster. With country borders physically closing to non-residence and over 40% of small businesses having to permanently close their doors, calling the current situation challenging might be an understatement. No wonder financial worries and concerns are one of the top topics discussed during online therapy sessions.
Financial hardship impacts the entire family. Children can feel financial tension between adults and extreme financial strain can push many relationships and marriages to breaking point. According to recent studies over 70% of all of us will experience tough financial times and stress at one stage of our lives. Causes of financial strain can be:
- Losing your job
- Sudden & unexpected expenses
- Medical expenses
- A divorce or other legal expenses
- Addiction issues such as gambling or drugs
- Not sticking to your budget
Tough financial times can also affect your mental and physical health. And because there’s often feelings of shame and embarrassment attached to this kind of financial situation, many will keep it a secret (even from a spouse or partner!) and suffer in silence. That’s why it’s so important to unpack during online therapy sessions. Some of the effects of extreme financial strain can be:
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Increased feelings of anger and irritability
- Constantly feeling fearful
- Loss of appetite
- A lower sex drive
- Feeling tired and drained
- Muscle spasms, aches and pains
- Experiencing constant high levels of anxiety
- Feeling depressed
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Suicidal thoughts
- Low self-esteem
- Weight gain or loss
- Ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches and heart diseases.
Unfortunately, financial strain and its mental and physical manifestations have a ripple effect that can cause other secondary problems such as:
Isolation and loneliness
This is rarely by choice. Financial tough times often mean that you don’t have the money to travel, go out or attend social gatherings. This can lead to feelings of extreme isolation and loneliness. And being left alone with your own thoughts during tough financial times like these can be overwhelming. This is also why online therapy sessions are a good solution since they are very affordable and you can attend these in the comfort of your own home.
Unhealthy coping methods
Not everyone has the emotional and mental capacity to face things head-on. And some may have tried tackling the issue without any success and are now left feeling hopeless and defeated. This is when many start hiding or running away from the problem. They find ways to forget that it’s there and distract themselves. Unfortunately these distractions are rarely healthy and cause a whole new bag of problems. These distractions can come in the form of alcohol, drugs, gambling etc.
Break-ups or even divorce
Financial tough times can rock even the most solid of relationships. Finances is a subject that most couples argue about during the good times. Therefor it’s not strange to find that arguments escalate dramatically during financial tough times. And since financial hardship can impact your mood significantly in the form of increased irritability and feelings of anger, it’s also not surprising that couples start to fight about small and unimportant things. Blame and accusations can also slip in during this time and comments such as “if only you didn’t try starting your own business” can quickly start eroding a relationship.
But whatever the financial situation, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one who has experienced times like these and that there is land beyond the financial stormy seas. This too shall pass by tackling the situation the right way:
Take it one step at a time
With disrupted sleep and bills piling up it’s easy to see why financial tough times can feel like having to climb Mount Everest without any oxygen tanks. But feeling completely overwhelmed is not going to help your situation. You can’t think clearly when you’re feeling overwhelmed. That’s why you need to take a step-by-step approach. Try to make one financial decision at a time. Also divide your debt into manageable chunks. 844 per month sounds much less daunting than 10 000 in total, doesn’t it?
Odds are that this is what got you into trouble in the first place without you even realising it. It’s not keeping track of our spending and not taking all the small spending amounts all throughout the month into account that often leaves you in the red. There are plenty of apps out there that will help you track your spending and help you manage your money better.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours… Porsche
Stop comparing your financial situation with others. Live the financially safe and conservative life you can within the constraints of your own budget. Competing or trying to keep up appearances will continually end up with you in financial hot water.
There’s no such thing as just window shopping
If you already know the current dire state of your financial status and that most of your financial woes can be attributed to spending – why would you expose yourself to temptation? Don’t stroll around the mall or the shops. When you need to buy essentials and groceries have a list and stick to it. Especially avoid sales, promotions, discounts etc. aisles and displays – that’s how you end up buying things you don’t need by justifying that “it’s a bargain”.
Steer clear of the commercialism
Valentine’s Day, Black Friday… all these will lead you straight to I’m-financially-ruined Day. All these commercialised and imposed holidays mean absolutely nothing in the bigger scheme of things. And your loved ones will appreciate spending an extra hour of free quality time playing board games with you much more than a second birthday or Christmas gift.
Tough financial situations are often hard to talk about, but it’s essential that you get some support during this difficult time. Tell trusted family and friends for some moral support and encouragement. Tell your spouse or partner no matter how difficult that initial conversation might be – two heads are better than one when trying to find solutions anyway. Unpack the situation and all the feelings and emotions that comes along with it during your online therapy sessions.
Call in the experts
We can’t do better if we don’t know better. If you can’t pinpoint what exactly got you in this position in the first place, don’t know how to get yourself out of this financial pickle or simply lack the basic and crucial knowledge regarding finances and money management, it might be time to call in an expert. We are not referring to a broker or someone else making a commission living off of selling you financial institution packages/policies. We are talking about a real expert that can advise and coach you in the ways of living a financially secure life. This is also something you can discuss with your therapist during your online therapy sessions since they often have experts like this within their network that they can refer you to.
Establish a budget and stick to it
This is something that you might never have done before and there are a few people who have no idea where to even begin with creating a budget. But this is absolutely essential if you want to be in control of your finances and avoid any future financial strain. When establishing a budget simply do the following:
- What is the total amount of income you take home on a monthly basis? This includes everything from your permanent job and side-hustles.
- Minus the total of all your fixed expenses. These are the things you have to pay every month like rent, electricity, insurance policies etc.
- Minus those sneaky “sudden” expenses. For example, if you have a car you already know that it will have to be serviced and things such as tyres will need to be replaced. Even though you don’t know when, it will happen sometime in the future. These are the kinds of costs that also need to be taken into account when budgeting. In these cases you will take the average total of the expense and divide it by 12 to find a monthly total.
- Minus your savings. This is the total amount you would like to put away/save on a monthly basis.
- After all these subtractions you should be left with a total that you can consider spending money. If there’s nothing left or you’re actually in the red at the end of the month, it’s time for some serious expense cutting. If not, congratulations. Just make sure that you never spend more than your spending money total.
Financial tough times can be incredibly stressful. But there’s no reason why you can’t regain control of your finances and your life. If you are currently finding yourself in a tough spot financially and would like to get some professional emotional support, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or simply complete the form below and we’ll get in contact with you shortly: