In today’s difficult economic and political climate, women are under great financial and social pressure. Single women and, in particular, single mothers, worry about not being able to to meet mortgage payments or rising rental prices.
Other women might find it difficult to negotiate their salaries, and some are even considering stopping their pension contributions or dipping into their savings just to stay afloat. We can’t deny that women are particularly vulnerable right now – not because of their lack of skills or ability to planbut because of structural inequalities.
Research shows that people’s money worries are now worse than during the pandemic crisis. This is why, at this time, it is particularly important to use all the tools at your disposal to take care of yourself and your mental health. Here are a few things it’s worth thinking about when it comes to surviving this difficult time.
1. Don’t blame yourself and let go of all money guilt. Money-related guilt can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. For example, you might feel bad about not having the emergency savings you wish you had, or maybe regret having made certain financial blunders in the past. Just remember that what is happening in the world and in the economy is not your fault. It’s been a tough few years, with Covid and now, this crisis. Be kind to yourself.
2. Make the most of available government assistance. Although the Energy Price Guarantee and Energy Support Scheme are automatic – there is no need to apply and you will never be asked for bank details – other support is available. From disability cost of living payments to pensioner cost of living payments, the government is offering support to households to help them cope with the cost of living crisis.
3. If your mental health is deteriorating, talk to your GP. Mental health and money are linked, especially if you find yourself in financial difficulty. If you’re struggling with high levels of anxiety, insomnia or any other mental health symptom, don’t suffer in silence – talk to your GP. The charity Mind also offers great advice on money and mental health.
4. Stay connected to others. Relying on your community – whether it’s a Facebook group you’re a part of or your friends and colleagues – is extremely important during difficult times. Having honest conversations with others will make you feel less isolated and you’ll be surprised how many people are going through similar things to you. A problem shared is a problem halved.
5. Ignore the news and focus on your hobbies. It’s so easy to get into the habit of “doomscrolling,” or spending excessive screen time reading negative news. Try to minimize the amount of news you read and instead spend that time engaging in an activity that brings you joy.
6. Have a money check. Download three months of your bank statements and review everything you spend your money on – from essentials like mortgage payments and bills to non-essentials like dining out and shopping. Then look where you can make changes and cuts. Remember that you can and should always negotiate with your current providers, whether mobile or broadband, or consider upgrading to better deals with others.
7. Negotiate your salary or seek side work. Increasing your income is another way to help deal with this crisis, which is easier said than done and may not be possible for everyone. However, if you are able to ask for a raise, do so. You have nothing to lose. If you have the time, perhaps you could choose a side job, whether it’s freelance writing, graphic design, or teaching a short course.
8. Don’t stop your long-term financial commitments. Unless you have absolutely no choice, try not to stop your pension contributions and/or your stock market investments. This will negatively impact your future self. Instead, take a long-term view, as historically, markets recover from crises.
9. Appreciate things that are not material. Keep a weekly gratitude list and try to include as many non-material things as possible, like playing board games with your child or cooking up a new recipe. This way, you’ll see that your life can still be satisfying when you focus on things that money can’t buy.
10. Remember this won’t last forever. Current forecasts indicate that the cost of living crisis will last until the second half of 2023. Although it may seem far away right now, you will absolutely get there.
Taking care of your financial security as much as possible will reduce your stress levels and help you cope with other aspects of your life. However, it’s also important to get enough rest, follow your diet and exercise, and generally take care of yourself – if you don’t, the anxiety will only get worse.
Emilie Bellet is the founder of Vestpod and author of You’re not broke, you’re pre-rich. Listen to Emilie’s podcast The Wallet for weekly conversations about money.