How to deal with financial stress

It's important to be kind to yourself if you are experiencing financial stress
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This article was developed in partnership with the Credit Union, a not-for-profit, community-owned financial institution.

Financial stress can have a significant effect on your wellbeing, and nearly everyone will face financial stress at some point in their lives. While talking about your money worries may not be easy in the beginning, opening up to someone can help you to put your mind at ease and find a way out of your situation.

Remember, you are not alone in how you are feeling. There is advice and support available for looking after your money, and your mind.

How to overcome financial stress

If you’re facing financial difficulty, it’s important to acknowledge what’s going on and seek support. However, try to be kind to yourself as you move through this challenging time. It is possible that you blame yourself for your situation but remember, you didn’t choose to experience financial stress. Instead of blaming yourself for your challenges or focusing on past events, try to shift your focus towards what you can do now.

Here are things you can do to deal with money challenges:

Talk to the person or service you owe money to

If you owe money to a landlord, bank, college, electricity supplier or another service provider and are struggling to meet your payments, talk to them about your difficulties immediately. Once you do this, you will be able to begin seeking solutions. In some cases, you might be able to come to an agreement with them. For example, they may be willing to give you more time to pay off your debt or come up with a repayment plan. If you owe money to different creditors, you can talk to your local credit union about debt consolidation.

If you are not sure how to talk to them about your repayment problems, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is a resource you can turn to. MABS provides free and confidential advice and support to help you overcome debt and financial problems.

Be wary of quick fixes

There are no quick fixes when it comes to overcoming financial difficulties. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you have decided to borrow money to help you with your situation, it is important to make sure the lender is legitimate and reliable. Some lenders try to attract people who have been refused bank or credit union loans and need money quickly. These are often referred to as loan sharks. They’re usually unlicensed and charge high rates of interest. It is best to avoid these lenders. If you are unsure if the company that you are dealing with is reliable, check the Central Bank’s Register of Authorised Firms in Ireland. 

You don’t need to do things that make you feel uncomfortable or afraid in order to overcome financial stress. Reach out to one of the organisations at the end of this article for advice and support.

Set realistic financial goals

Financial stress often stems from our beliefs about what is ahead of us. Perhaps you have a low income and worry about how that will affect your ability to do things in future. It is completely normal to feel this way. However, there are small steps you can take now to reduce this stress and regain a sense of control over your financial situation.

If you want to reduce your financial stress, it is important to be aware of what money is coming in and how you are spending it. You can gain this knowledge by making a personal budget

Try to find any unnecessary spending or areas where you can save money without negatively affecting your wellbeing. Perhaps you can redirect this money into a savings account. Even if it is just a small amount of money each month, it will move you in the direction you want to go. A little goes a long way over time.

Read more about how to save money.

Take care of yourself

When you’re coping with money worries, it can be easy to forget about your own wellbeing. However, it is extremely important to continue to take care of yourself during this challenging time. It is much easier to face challenges when you are giving yourself adequate food, rest and social time.

Here are some things to prioritise while you’re going through this stressful time:

  • Make sure to eat well and have regular meals
  • Try to get enough sleep each night, and if you’re having difficulty, speak to your doctor
  • Try to make time to relax and do something you enjoy
  • Keep in touch with friends and family and avoid isolating yourself
  • Reach out to one of the organisation’s below for support if you’re feeling down

Support for when you’re worried about money

If you are dealing with financial stress, it is important to talk to someone about it. This could be a trusted friend, family member, colleague or student union representative. While money isn’t always talked about in our social circles, most of us face financial worries at some point in life. Sharing your concerns with your peers can show you this, which will further help you to move away from self-blame and seek solutions. Read more about how other young people manage financial stress: How I have managed the financial stress of losing a job offer

If you wish to speak with a counsellor, there are many free and low-cost options available. Read more about affordable treatment for mental health.

The following services can offer you support if you are worried about money: 

You could also contact our free and confidential text support service 50808:

Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?

  • Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
  • Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
  • Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
  • Find out more about our text message support service

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.

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