Recent reports in the media about falling house prices, stock market meltdowns and a possible global recession in 2016, have only added to the financial stress many people experience post-Christmas.
According to a recent survey¹, for the fifth year in a row, Australians have rated financial issues as the top cause of stress in their lives. Anxiety symptoms in 2015 were the highest they have been in five years and with so much global economic uncertainty on the horizon and the cost of living rising rapidly, is it any wonder financial related stress is so prominent in our lives?
Sally Kirkright, CEO of AccessEAP, a leading Employee Assistance Programs provider in Australia, says the New Year presents the perfect opportunity to review your financial situation and make any necessary changes to help reduce stress.
“An alarming rate of people are experiencing financial stress and unfortunately this is something that’s only set to increase. Credit card debt exceeded $51 billion in February last year showing how much people are relying on short term financial solutions. Understanding financial concepts can be confusing but getting your finances in order will help reduce stress and get you back on track,” she said.
Here, Sally Kirkright offers some tips on reducing financial related stress:
1) Learn to budget
If your financial situation is causing you stress, it’s vital to create a budget. Record all income and expenditure and know exactly what you spend on non-essential items. Be critical of what you are spending and cut down on any unessential items if necessary.
2) Pay off debt
Review and consolidate loans to help get them under control. Pay off your credit card debt and remember to start with the credit card with the highest interest rate.
3) Review fees
It’s important to review your bank and bank products as your life circumstances change. Compare and contrast bank fees and ensure you have the best products for your individual situation. Your bank manager can help talk you through the best options.
4) Save for a rainy day
Having an emergency or ‘rainy day’ fund can help alleviate financial stress knowing you have something in reserve. Start putting money away every month – even if it’s just a small amount, it all adds up.
It’s normal to feel worried or anxious when times are hard but consider the impact financial stress is having on your life. Take time to relax and de-stress. Taking the right steps towards getting your finances in control will help ease stress.
If you have been looking at taking steps to improve your financial knowledge there are numerous expert financial advisers to provide guidance and advice. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your financial situation, remember you are not alone.
“Financial coaching can help you understand and manage money by teaching you financial skills that last a lifetime,” said Sally Kirkright. “AccessEAP’s financial coaches will assist you in creating a personalised action plan to manage your debt and provide practical information on your options and rights.”
For more information on financial coaching, visit www.accesseap.com.au
1. Stress and wellbeing in Australia survey 2015