How to deal with financial stress

Financial stress can lead to suicide. Do not underestimate the pressure finances, debt and unemployment can have on someone. It’s not as simple as “just getting a job” (most are trying hard to get one or have reasons they can’t), debt is often accrued when someone has more income so splurge thinking they can pay it back or they are in a situation where they can’t afford medical care or something else traumatic happens.

So on top of the financial stress, there are usually other factors causing more stress and trauma in life.

So how do you deal with financial stress?

1.) Speak to someone about how you feel

There are hotlines if you aren’t comfortable talking to someone in person. Financial stress usually causes depression and other issues. Lifeline (phone 13 11 14), Beyond Blue (phone 1300 22 4636) and many places have people you can call and talk to.

Community health centres have free counsellors and ask your GP about counselling or psychological help if you need it. There is assistance available to ease the costs (a mental health plan or ATAPs are two). You are not alone and don’t need to be. Talk to someone.

2.) Get professional help with your finances

You can get free financial counselling to help you. MoneySmart has a map you can use to find ones in your area. Financial counsellors can help you with a lot:

  • Suggestions on ways to improve your financial situation, explain your options and how things are done (such as bankruptcy and repossession.)
  • Negotiate repayments on your debt or help you apply for hardship so you don’t need to deal with debt collectors
  • Check eligibility for Centrelink and other assistance
  • Help you organise your finances and do a budget
  • Refer you to other services, for example, help lines for gambling or other addictions, family support, counselling or legal aid
  • House eviction, disconnection of bills and other stressful issues relating to finances

3.) Decide what you have control over and what you don’t

If you don’t have control over something, try not to think too much about it and instead put your energy into things you can control.
For example, if you have a court date coming up which will decide if you have to pay a huge fine or not, you can’t control that outcome and won’t know until the day what is going to happen. Instead of focusing on it, look at what you can do such as find ways to make more money in the meantime.

4.) Set a budget

Take a proper look at your budget to see where you are spending and how you can cut back. Check your bank statements to see if there are any holes. This post shows how to create a budget and stick to it.

5.) Find ways to make more money

Rent out a room, do cleaning, babysitting, try online surveys (my top ones are here), apply for market research opportunities, look for what you can do to make extra money and try it. A few posts that might help:
51 ways to make money from home
10 ways to make $10,000
10 ways to make $1,000 this month
Ways to make money while on Centrelink

I understand how difficult it can be when you are under pressure financially. I have been a homeless single mum, I have been paralysed and needed extensive help, with medical bills crippling me. I got to the point where I was suicidal over it. I understand. Please, get whatever help will enable you to get through this.

What tips do you have for dealing with financial stress?

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