Talking about financial well-being
Updated: Jan 29
I’d like to share some thoughts on financial wellbeing.
Before we get going, generally on the subject of mental health I’d like to flag a couple of general things I have mentioned before.
First - Sharing how you are feeling with other people really helps and
Second It is ok to not be ok, other people will not be likely to judge.
Also if you are struggling there is always somewhere to go. Why not make a note of Samaritan’s phone number. It is available for free 24/7 If you never got a chance to write it down before it may be handy It is 116 123. Just pop these 6 digits on the notes on your phone now… for you or for a friend.
Let’s get into financial wellbeing.
Sometimes we might struggle with debt so I’d like to raise this topic first. I’m not a financial advisor but much help is surprisingly available for debt issues. First off contacting the citizens advice bureau can be very useful and they can advise on how to reduce debt.
There are some organisations who specialise in debt management who you can contact for free. If you are heavily in debt and need to take some urgent action. It is worth googling ‘financial wellness’ and ‘debt relief solutions.’ Always check the reviews.
Of these organisations some are private and some are charity based (e.g. Stepchange) they often offer 5 or 6 different solutions for people with lots of debt who are struggling depending on individual circumstances.
This might be re-financing, voluntary arrangements, or debt relief. Solutions like this exist and can be a good way forward if debt has got to an unmanageable place. The worst thing to do is stick your head in the sand like an ostrich.
So what will this post be about?
I’ll share my personal story a little here because I’d like you to know that I’m a flawed human just like the next person when it comes to making good financial decisions.
After that we’ll explore about the compound effect of money, when its great and when its terrible - don’t worry if that’s still a mystery I’ll explain it.
Then we will look at what we can do to improve our financial wellbeing. This is both about practical stuff and changes and about what we allow into our heads and what we can do about reducing worry itself. I hope this sounds useful.
Lastly I’ll invite you to record a couple of small changes you might like to make for yourself as actions to take away so have a think about this as we go. Whether that action ends up being practical or more to do with improving your thinking.
This is always going to be a difficult topic. Clearly money is an emotional topic because sometimes it’s connected to our self-worth as well as our need to provide for our families.
When it isn’t going well, we might experience feelings of inadequacy.
No one really likes to hear anyone on their high horse about how to be smarter with money. It is boring and annoying and it could even be insulting. We are each our own boss of our lives, and we will all do what we do.
However I am sure that at the end of the day we all care about others we don’t another person to feel like others are struggling and worrying. Not for ourselves, not anyone else. For this reason it is worth offering tools and ideas even on this sensitive topic.
We are going into a period of high inflation and difficult times ahead so this is clearly very topical at the moment which is why I chose this topic. Any little changes we can make may make a big difference to us right now.
Let me share my own experience with financial well-being.
First I want to come clean about my amazon compulsive buying stuff. I frequently delete the app from my phone as I can’t seem to help buying random sh*t. My other poor decision is about credit cards. I am as daft as the next person. I have just cleared some money on Amex which was being charged well over 20%.
As some of you know I am relatively new to this new career path of coaching and corporate training. I’ve been doing it for 5 years. Before I made the leap to have a full-on career change I had a procurement career. I didn’t like much. I had a steady income but was sick of the role and of and bringing a grumpy face home to the family every night.
I gave up procurement because I felt I had to break away once and for all at some point.
However after I did that, I wasn’t bringing in the money. As you may know I’ve got three young kids aged 4, 6 and 10. My wife has been focused on bringing up our youngest and not working as Ozzie has special needs. So I’m the sole bread winner.
Anyway I am sharing this because I felt the responsibility and weight of bringing in the finances we needed when the business was new and moving slowly and I was earning a fraction of what I had been earning before. It was stressful because our outgoings never changed.
What did I do? I took the risk of borrowing money. There were many months one after another when I had to find money in the last few days of the month before the bills all shot out automatically from the bank. Now I don’t have any regrets as I really wanted to change careers and become a coach and work closely with people.
Nevertheless, it’s fair to say the stress made me both mentally and physically unwell. Partly because of the situation, and partly because of how I chose to handle it.
I am not a financial advisor, so I am not qualified to offer any individual advice but I can make you aware of pitfalls and places to go for guidance. You can go to money saving expert for example Martin Lewis is clearly a huge expert in this space.
One other thing I can definitely offer you is how to help you with your mindset.
COMPOUND INTEREST is a key subject
Let’s look at this together both in terms of cost of borrowing as well as benefit from investing. I will give some examples Including the one from the image of this post by Investopedia.
Compounding aggregates losses backwards with debt and compounds gains forwards with investments. The aggregation of marginal gains/losses occurs because there is either additional cost or gain of interest on interest.
If you have credit cards with a balance incurring interest and if the credit card has 25% apr the debt will pretty much double every three years.
If you owe £20k on credit cards and if you pay it off as fast as possible over four years at £660 a month the amount repaid will be almost 1 and a half times the total.
You will have paid a total of £32k.
If (a more likely scenario) you repay at the more manageable level of £190 a month it will take you 11 years to pay it off and you will have paid a total £58.7k that is almost three times the original sum. Why?... because you are paying interest on the interest.
Who are you working for?
You aren’t working for you, you’re working for the bank.
If this is a pattern you follow, you are on a treadmill running backwards at speed.
If you can move this off onto either an interest free card or a personal loan you could save thousands.
Moving on to overdrafts
if you are overdrawn it is actually even worse as the % apr are typically 39.9% (that’s why they only quote the monthly fees in large text so it doesn’t sound so bad).
If you are on average £1000 overdrawn you will have paid a further £1000 after only 2.5 years.
Looking at the image above we can see that interest compounding forwards to our benefit is just as positive. Just 10K invested over 30 years is worth 40K so a 30K gain through the interest on interest effect is huge here too!
It’s not all about being smart or planning well or working harder though. Some people have been the benefactors of luck while others may have been the victims of risk.
Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake or end up on the wrong side of risk. The world is uncertain, and it may not be your fault if something goes wrong. It does necessarily mean you have done anything wrong.
Breaking bad habits is a great book by Peter Walker. Are there any habits you would like to break?
Perhaps you have several really good money habits?
There is another fab little book called “How to worry less about money” by a chap called John Armstrong. I’d like to share some of his ideas.
In his book he splits poor financial wellbeing into two separate problems. Money troubles and money worries. This is useful so I will share it.
FIRST MONEY TROUBLES
This is urgent stuff like I described before in my own situation the money is due out and you don’t have it.
Money troubles can be addressed in two ways.
- What you spend, and
- What you earn.
So you either adjust debts and or cut costs by going without stuff so you spend less.
The other way is you earn more. Money troubles are something that need a practical solution.
SECOND MONEY WORRIES.
They are about what is going on in your head not in your finances. People with a sh*t ton of money have money worries.
It's subjective because our heads our messy, our thoughts are messy.
Our thoughts change day to day, they sometimes make no sense because we have so many.
If we want to address money worries we need to change our pattern of thinking. Money worries are connected to what is happening but also they are connected to our imagination of what could go wrong in the worst possible case.
If we have both known unknowns and unknown unknowns around both how much do I need and how we are going to get it. We can focus on clarification.
The only way to respond to our worries is to reflect on them and understand them, if we get a pen and paper we can explore for ourselves personally what is real and what is imagined.
If we come back to the worry less about money book Armstrong suggests we can explore 3 questions.
Q1: What do I need to pay for for myself and to meet my responsibilities to others
Q2: How much do I need to pay for those things
Q3: What is the best way for me to get enough to pay for those things?
Armstrong suggests that clear answers to these questions can enable us to resolve the worries by creating a plan.
We tend to worry more when there are more unknowns.
If we know what we need, and how much we need that is a good start we have the first part addressed. A known unknown if you like. Great start.
Now we need to know the other bit... how are we going to get it..
Consider brainstorming how to earn more and get super practical and get basic and creative to come up with 5 ways to earn more money. Next 5 ways to spend less!!
"Simples" ...like the meercat ;)
Examples for earning more could be: Work more hours, get an extra job, charge more per hour, price work differently, get a promotion, start a business, even get into research, or sell some old stuff you aren’t using,
It seems like the accepted thinking to make progress with finances is about consistently trying to make better decisions. Save a little, spend a bit less… Setting some small but realistic goals.
After all worrying as an activity in its own right achieves less than planning and taking action?
Worry is a misuse of our imagination. We could set about refocusing that nervous energy, and not wastng it.
If action is required.
If might take practical steps to check and stick to budgets, cut expenses, work smarter and try and increase earnings, then maybe we can reduce both money worries and money problems
Sounds irritatingly simple doesn’t it and as I said at the start no one wants to get money advice its boring and annoying....Sorry!!
..but that’s the simple principle we all know and like everyone else I too ignore and get on Amazon and bung stuff on the Amex.
But outside of the plan it. Side of things if we are stuck in a worried mentality what else can we do to boost our mood??
Perhaps we can
go for exercise
spend time in nature
cut down on booze
All this optimises our bio chemistry and natural testosterone.
Above all though to reduce how much we worry about money we need to understand our worries and answer how much money we need (including understanding what we can do without) and how we are going to get the money needed.
To conclude this subject of money worries I am going to draw you a mental picture
In your minds imagine the word worry written on the page 8 times with arrows pointing back and forth between all these worries.
Humans have 70 thousand thoughts a day. One worry informs another. If we don’t have answers we worry about unknowns we worry about worrying. One worry bounces off the next and it gets worse as an unhelpful cycle.
But ...if we take time and reflect to deal in information instead of busy worried thoughts it can improve. The same questions of how much do I need and how am I going to get it need to be answered.
Better responding and thinking is helpful to find clear answers. So the second image you can visualise is:
Worries -> questions -> answers
Maybe if we focus on this visual image, as a methodology we can reduce unhelpful worrying?
Maybe we can give ourselves a break and let go of what hasn’t gone perfectly before, we can change up some stuff and just maybe 6 months from now we will be in a better place.
Now I am going to invite you to take a few moments to make a note of any actions or thoughts that have occurred to you while you read this or anything you want to take away from your reflections for yourself.
No time like the present…
GRAB THAT PEN AND PAPER!