Of the 7,300 vulnerable clients PayPlan looks after across the country, the free debt advice provider found that 50% suffer from some kind of illness, 40% have mental health issues and 16% have a physical disability. So what's their advice for managing your money problems while also taking care of your mental health?
Track your spending
It may seem like an obvious solution, but many people struggle to create and, more importantly, stick to a budget. Lots of free apps are available to download and track spending, which can be easily exported to form your next budget or saving goal. Setting and achieving financial goals, whether that’s saving towards a special purchase or saving a specific amount per month, can also be a great way to focus the mind and provides an added motivation to cut down on spending.
With a rising number of demands on people’s time, for example working hours increasing, it’s no surprise that many people can lose track of their spending, which can cause stress if they are hit by an unexpected bill for a boiler or car repair, for example.
Spending some time mapping out the money coming in and going out can help to paint a clear picture of a person’s financial situation. Budgeting can help people to track their spending and set goals, and as a result, it is much easier to see where savings can be made.
You are not alone
When financial problems mount, it can be easy to become isolated and bury your head in the sand. Mental health and money worries do not discriminate and these issues affect people across all demographics, regardless of age, race, class or background.
Last year, a third of young people admitted they were too scared to check their bank balances, preferring to hide from their personal finance struggles.
It can be easy to look at other people’s financial situation with envy and hide away from your own problems. However, your money worries needn’t last forever and the sooner you act to address them, the sooner you can ease your stress and enjoy living life to the fullest.
Speak to friends and family
Research from relationship charity Relate found that one in seven adults in debt has hidden their financial situation from their partner and more than half felt ashamed of revealing their problems.
As a society, we need to break down the taboo of talking about debt and the effects on it has on mental health so that those most at risk can get the debt advice they urgently need.
Simply having someone to talk to can really help to ease the burden of money worries. If you feel unable to speak to family, having a sympathetic friend to confide in can ease some of the worry. With the number of people living with some form of debt or mental health problem, there’s a good chance your family or friends will have dealt with a similar issue in the past.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for free advice
The most important thing to do if you find yourself struggling with financial and mental health problems is to reach out for support whether it’s family or friends, or organisation such as Mind, which offers free support and advice.
Advisers at PayPlan often find that when people get in contact, they may not have understood how their mental health problems were so closely linked to their financial issues.
PayPlan is seeing the number of people classed as vulnerable clients, as a result of physical or mental illness, increase month-on-month. While this may be alarming, it shows that, by gaining the trust of clients so they feel comfortable to disclose problems, we are starting to break down the barriers of debt and mental health. There’s still a lot more work to be done until we remove the stigma completely, but we are moving in the right direction.
Emma Gibbons is a client support specialist at free debt advice service PayPlan. As part of the Vulnerable Client Team, she works to offer support to individuals more at risk due to a physical or mental problem. Find out more at payplan.com or free phone 0800 280 2816