Friday Highlight  

Tackling financial stress before it manifests into ill-health

While discussing financial concerns with a confidant might not immediately alleviate stress, being able to talk through any issues and developing a plan will almost certainly help individuals feel more in control.

It is often the all-important first step to tackling issues; telling a manager, adviser or close contact that they are worried about being able to pay bills or afford day-to-day essentials can feel like lifting a heavy weight off the shoulders, and it can get the ball rolling on how to address the problem.

Coming back to the earlier statistic, carrying out an audit of one’s finances will also help to alleviate stress.

If individuals have a better idea of their overall financial situation, then they will be better equipped to make more informed decisions about their money.

Being able to track outgoings and incomings, first and foremost, can help individuals budget for their short, medium and long-term financial obligations.

Again, in doing so they will feel like they are in greater control of their finances and can respond to future financial difficulties with greater ease, hopefully reducing stress further.

Finally, with only 23 per cent of UK adults using online support or debt charities to help manage their financial concerns, people need to be more aware of where they can turn for help.

For instance, some platforms like Mintago allow individuals to see lots of financial information – such as their pensions and various banking accounts – in one place, as well as providing financial guidance to those who need it.

As a result, individuals will increase their overall understanding of their finances and can make better informed decisions about their money.

Of course, it is hard to imagine a more difficult economic landscape for individuals to be navigating than the one we are currently facing. However, refusing to address financial concerns can result in difficulties in other aspects of people’s lives. So, tackling money issues head on will help individuals to reduce stress and maintain positive mental health.

Giving people back control

The key word that keeps emerging is control. Stress often results from lacking or losing control. Of course, each individual must take responsibility for their own finances, but more support is needed to empower people to keep in control of their finances.

Employers must directly engage with their teams, creating safe spaces for them to discuss concerns and seek support. Financial advisers can support by helping assess clients’ finances and providing additional services, such as tracking down lost pension pots.

There are £20bn worth of unclaimed pensions in the UK – the average unclaimed pot is worth around £13,000. Never have these lost pension savings been more needed, and there are platforms that allow financial advisers to add pension hunting as a value-added service to their clients, also enabling them to advise on what action to take once new pension pots are uncovered.