Relieving financial stress in COVID-19 times
Are you feeling financially fragile due to the impact of COVID-19? Recognize the symptoms of financial stress and don’t let it dominate.
Financial stress: constantly weighing on your mind
It does not take a pandemic for financial stress to rear its ugly head. A survey into the sources of stress for Canadians carried out by Léger Marketing1 in 2018 showed that:
- 48% of the population loses sleep due to financial worries
- 44% of Canadians would have difficulty meeting their financial obligations if they were paid late
Adopt healthy consumer habits and carry them through into the post-pandemic period.
Recognizing the signs of financial stress
A few signs that financial stress is impacting your health include:
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of energy
- Lack of motivation
- Out-of-character social isolation
- Mood problems
- Developing an addiction to, for example, gambling, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
Ways to reduce financial stress
1. Understand the source of the problem
Look at the situation face on, and ask yourself what’s bothering you the most:
- Paying off your credit card?
- Monthly mortgage repayments?
- Your car loan: did you really need to choose that model?
- Your (inadequate) savings?
Improving the situation starts by understanding how and where you spend.
2. Draw up an action plan
Once you’ve got to the root of the problem, work out a realistic budget; this is the first step on the road to healthy financial management.
List your priorities and don’t forget to include an amount for a monthly indulgence; it’s an important coping technique.
Investigate government measures and programs set up to support people facing hardship during the pandemic.
3. Get your credit under control
Reduce your credit limit and keep just one card. Even then, use it only if you are sure you can pay off the balance at the end of the month.
Set alarms or use notifications to remind you when invoice payment is due and avoid incurring needless interest on late payments.
Make use of any offers your bank makes to lighten your financial load on the products and services you hold, such as insurance or personal line of credit.
Is your car loan or your mortgage strangling you? Take another look at what you really need. Maybe you’ll decide that it’s time to sell your car or move. Or both. Don’t be afraid to completely rethink your priorities.
Talk to a personal finance advisor if you need help during the restructuring process.
4. Change your lifestyle
Before heading off to the grocery store, make a list, then stick to what’s on it.
Don’t shop for groceries on an empty stomach: you’ll be tempted by everything, which will only ramp up the bill at the checkout.
Avoid impulse buying. If something you’ve had your eye on for a while is on special offer, ask yourself: do I really need it? Stop and analyze the issue. If you still think you really need it, see if you feel the same way the next day.
Avoid shopping online, but buy wisely if you can’t. Find out about the return policy and refunds, not forgetting delivery costs which increase the price of the purchase.