Talking about your finances is never going to be easy. Along with politics, sex and religion, the subject of money is often considered to be a deeply private matter – something never to be discussed in public or even among members of the same family.
That’s why so many of us remain silent, even when we’re suffering. The barriers preventing us from reaching out and asking for help when we’re experiencing financial hardship can sometimes feel simply too high to overcome.
With accountants, this can be even more excruciating. The added stigma of being a financial professional whose own finances are in question only increases the sense of shame or failure.
But in the midst of a global crisis, when so many of us are worried about our personal finances, our businesses and our futures, we can find strength in solidarity. Now, more than ever, we need to break down those walls and learn how to ask for help.
Failure to do so could have severe and long-lasting consequences. Citizens Advice found that 74% of people who have financial difficulties have experienced mental health issues, leading to over half having had panic attacks. Increased stress levels also lead to a lack of sleep, which can impact physical health. At the same time, financial wellbeing can have a profound effect on personal relationships, isolating people from support systems when they might need them the most.
So, how do we ease the burden and empower people to open up about money?
Learning how to understand your feelings and articulate them
Financial wellbeing is about control. Control over your day-to-day decisions and long-term goals. When we lose this sense of control, we find ourselves stifled, caged in, helpless. Anxious thoughts start to cross our mind, such as: Can I pay rent this month? Will I ever be able to buy my first home? Do I have enough money to support my family? Will I have enough money saved to enjoy retirement? Many of us might find ourselves worrying about these questions on a more regular basis as the world enters a period of economic uncertainty.
Anyone can have these feelings, regardless of income or profession. The Salary Finance’s UK Employers’ Guide to Financial Wellbeing survey found that those earning over £100,000 reported the same level of concern about their personal finances as those earning less than £10,000. This could be because of cash flow or debt challenges which inhibit them from saving, or personal circumstances.
Likewise, being a chartered accountant does not make you immune from the difficulties the economy is facing. Any financial professional, no matter how successful they are, could face redundancy, or seeing their practice lose important clients.
Accepting that these feelings are normal and that you are not alone is the first step towards better financial wellbeing. This will allow you to be kinder to yourself and create space for you to unravel your thoughts and anxieties. Once you have a better understanding of what you’re feeling, you should find it easier to open up and take the first steps towards better financial wellbeing.
Take stock of your finances and create a budget
Before you reach out for help, it’s useful to have an accurate picture of your financial situation.
Knowing your income, expenditure and disposable income once your day-to-day expenses are covered, will give you confidence in your decisions and help you to create a budget. If your partner or spouse usually looks after the finances, be sure to talk the budget through with them, so that you both understand your financial situation.
Tackling any outstanding debts you owe during this time might seem a daunting prospect but it’s okay to ask for help. There are constructive and positive steps you can take to work your way towards becoming debt free – and what’s more, we have online guides or call us and we can walk you through every step of the process.
Know what help is available to you
As we highlighted in our recent financial wellbeing campaign, we have an extensive range of free and confidential services including:
- Financial assistance – means-tested financial assistance in the form of monthly shortfall grants, and donations for one-off expenses such as repairs, household items, travel, funeral costs, care costs including home adaptations, and much more.
- Debt management – specialist debt advisors can help you to minimise the impact of your debts through advice, information, budgeting and prioritizing payments. CABA can also negotiate with creditors on your behalf.
- Benefits – we can explore what benefits are available for you and help you to navigate the benefits system. We can even help you complete the applications.
CABA also offers personal wellbeing services, such as counselling and relationship counselling sessions, to help you deal with the challenges that may come from financial stress.
All of the tools and services are designed to help you successfully manage your day-to-day finances, plan for the future, and optimise your financial wellbeing. Our dedicated site features specialist advice for employers and employees on managing financial wellbeing in the workplace, as well as a dedicated section for parents and carers.
Written by: Paul Day, CABA Support Officer
Paul Day is one of CABA’s debt support officers, providing assistance and support to Chartered Accountants in financial difficulty. He is a certified member of the Institute of Money Advisers, having completed his certificate in Money Advice Practice in 2013.
CABA provide lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members.