financial anxiety: 5 ways to get through the cost of living crisis

Everywhere you look, prices are creeping up. The current cost of living crisis is leading to people experiencing financial anxiety, regardless of their income and overall money situation. This article shares practical advice for tackling the crisis and financial anxiety.

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The cost of living is on the rise. Food, energy, fuel, as well as many other aspects of our life are more expensive. The conflict in Ukraine, ripple effect of the pandemic and Brexit, and stagnating wages are among the contributing factors to today’s cost of living crisis and people’s financial anxiety.

Spiralling costs are impacting us all, accountants included. Being a chartered accountant doesn’t make you immune from the difficulties the economy is facing. Any financial professional, no matter how successful they are, could face redundancy or see their practice lose important clients. In fact, many ICAEW members have already told us they’ve made spending cuts in areas, including water, internet, transport, food and energy.

Meanwhile, over a third (34%) of working accountants surveyed as part of our Cost of Living research told us they are concerned about their future, with a third, respectively, feeling more anxious (33%) and stressed (32%). At the same time, more than two in five (42%) of working accountants and students said they are already struggling financially.

In this article, Paul Day, one of our senior support officers and specialist debt advisor for more than ten years, reveals five ways you can get through the cost of living crisis and manage your money anxiety.

1. confront the issue

As overwhelmed as you may feel, the best way to deal with an issue is to acknowledge the scale of it and what it involves. For example, by understanding that the current cost of living crisis is a global problem, not something only you are experiencing. Sometimes, knowing you aren’t alone when facing a problem can make you feel supported and the issue slightly more manageable.

But when you work with finances and figures, it can be difficult to admit to yourself that you need help because your identity is connected with your profession. Fortunately, work is taking place to tackle this stigma and some progress is being made. However, more conversations do need to happen and financial issues do need to be confronted head on.

2. share your concerns

Part of confronting issues involves sharing what’s happening with others and seeking wider support, if needed. Speaking to a friend or family member about your financial worries will instantly help ease the burden, and your financial anxiety in the process. Our Cost of Living research has found that 45% of accountants would confide in their partner and 37% would look for support from an organisation like caba.

You may find that reaching out to colleagues or managers may not be so easy to do. In fact, according to research carried out by caba, just 8% of working accountants say they would turn to their employer if they were concerned about their finances. This may be because they feel embarrassed about the fact they’re an accountant who needs financial support. But you are still entitled to ask for help and you aren’t immune to the cost of living crisis. You may even find that your manager is feeling the pressure too…

3. tackle your debt 

Debt and the financial anxiety it can trigger isn’t something you can simply wave away with a magic wand, but there are proactive steps you can take to reduce it. You can find more on managing debt here.

start by prioritising your debt

List all of your debts and the different charges/penalties you could face if you don’t pay them. For example, if you fail to pay your mortgage, you could be at risk of losing your home.

tackle the debts with the most serious penalties first

It’s easy to get distracted by lenders for overdrafts and credit cards because they can often shout the loudest and most frequently. But the impact of delaying credit card payments is less severe than, for instance, your Council Tax.

create a budget

Having a clear picture of your income, expenditure and disposable income will immediately help ease your money anxiety. If you’re new to budgeting or aren’t sure about the best way to go about it, there’s plenty of advice available, which includes our budgeting and household bills guidance.

4. protect your mental health 

Constantly worrying about rising costs, growing debt and missed, or potential missed, payments means you can easily wind up trapped in a money anxiety-driven bubble that negatively impacts your outlook and mental health.

With the cost of living crisis look set to stay for a while, taking care of your mental health is essential. Doing so will help make sure you are in the right frame of mind to deal with any challenges that lie ahead. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost you any money either. A walk in the woods or around the local park is 100% free and can do wonders for your wellbeing. For more ideas, take a look at this article, ‘Simple techniques to help you manage anxiety.’

Where possible, set aside time in your day to relax and look after yourself. There are all sorts of techniques you can try, including our beginners’ guide to meditation. Apps like Headspace and Calm can also help you meditate and get into more of a relaxed mindset.

5. stay in the present

While it can be easy to listen to anxious inner chatter and focus on worst case scenarios, it’s important to take a step back and focus on the present moment. What may seem like a simple action, can actually do considerable, lasting good for your overall wellbeing.

Mindfulness involves focusing on the here and now. And when practised on a daily basis, it can help in so many ways; far more than people may initially realise. For instance, it can help reduce stress levels, improve focus and communication and encourage greater self-awareness. For more on the benefits, read this article, ‘Benefits of practising mindfulness.’

are you experiencing financial anxiety?

Don’t struggle in silence. Whether every day or exceptional, we all face challenges throughout our lives, and when they affect our finances, it can feel particularly overwhelming. Whatever your worries, big or small, you’re not alone. Equipping yourself with a range of tools and advice can go a long way towards supporting your everyday financial health. At caba, we can provide you with that support.

Our dedicated debt advice team can advise you on the possible solutions that you may not have considered. For example, if you are experiencing money issues, we may be able to negotiate directly with your creditors on your behalf and help you come to an informal payment arrangement.

further reading 

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5 simple budgeting tips

Do you have a personal budget? This article features plenty of practical budgeting advice and some key benefits of budgeting, as well as five simple budgeting tips to help you get started.

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debt toolkit: six-step guide to sorting your finances

Support Officer and debt expert Lee Melling explores the steps you can take to tackle debt effectively. He also reveals how we can help you improve your financial situation.

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grants search tool

Use our handy calculator to find out which UK grants are available to you, based on your financial situation.

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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