Five ways to de-stress your finances

MONEY worries keeping you up at night? Finances making you miserable?

Here are five common causes of the money blues – and how to fix them and get your finances back on track.

You don’t open your bills

It’s better to face your debts rather than ignore them. Once you get to grips with your money, you’ll begin to feel more in control.

Psychotherapist Keeley Taverner of Key for Change says the first step is to look at your bills and your bank statements. Highlight your direct debits, look at what you’re spending on and think about changes you could make.

“If you have car finance you might be paying £200 a month for the next four years, and then a lump sum at the end. That money could have helped you pay for a course or take time out to find another job. It’s better to save up for a car than paying for it with a finance deal. Same with ‘Buy now, pay later’ deals. They have to be paid for in the end.”

You tend to pay late

Missing payment dates for credit, such as loans and credit cards, can land you with extra fees. It can also harm your credit rating.

“Set up direct debits for regular bills like credit card minimum payments and utility bills,” Keeley says. For bonus points, if you can, arrange to pay more than the minimum on your credit card, to prevent interest building up.

“Arrange for 10 per cent of your wage to come out of your account on payday and straight into a savings account,” she adds. “That way you won’t miss the money, as you won’t have an opportunity to spend it. Instead, you’ll be on the path to financial freedom.”

You browse too much on social media

“Get rid of apps and unsubscribe from mailing lists,” Keeley says. “Otherwise you’re continually being tempted to buy things from special offers and emails. It’s just so easy to click and buy without thinking about how you’re going to pay it back.

“Social media is now becoming a marketplace – all it does is sell us things,” she adds. Try accessing your social accounts through a browser, rather than your phone, to remove that constant temptation.

If you buy something and you don’t like it, make sure you get a refund. Keeley says: “Cut up your store card and don’t shop when you’re bored. Refunding is an effort but if you don’t return unwanted purchases, you’re throwing money away.”

You help out friends and family

Saying no to favours and to taking out credit to help other people is hard but necessary, says Keeley.

“Sometimes people get into debt because they are trying to help others with money worries. If you take out credit to help your mum through a rough patch, it could affect your own credit rating.”

Instead, encourage friends or family to go to a free debt-counselling service such as Citizens Advice, StepChange or National Debtline.

There never seems to be enough

If you are always living hand to mouth, Keeley says you need to think about your attitude to money and spending. The same is true if you find yourself paying for essentials like food on a credit card.

Sometimes people block out the reality when they can’t afford the things they want. “Check where your money goes – do you have a habit of using the apps on your phone to order taxis, takeaways and clothes?” she asks.

“Apps are designed to make you impulsive. Also, think about what you do when you’re stressed – do you shop online, smoke and drink more?” Be aware of this and find other ways to unwind. You’ll have a healthier bank balance as a result.

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