6 Strategies for Managing Your Financial Wellbeing in A Crisis

Money…Money…Money! Abba had such a hit with this timeless classic. But money is certainly not funny, and it is not always sunny, when you face the dark reality of struggling with financial well-being. Unfortunately, the impact of negative financial wellbeing has a stark impact in the world of work, where financial stress is one of the biggest challenges to employee productivity. Guest blog by Joel Blake OBE.

According to the DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2019 report by financial well-being provider Neyber, it was revealed that 3 in 5 employees (62%) felt that they were being affected by money worries. In addition, more than half (52%) were borrowing to meet basic financial needs, whilst 45% admitted they ran out of money before payday.

On a wider scale, this has been compounded by the impact of COVID-19. With the pressure of being furloughed reducing your already tight income by a further 20%, and the potential threat of future redundancy, it is natural to have feelings of uncertainty, frustration and fear which can ultimately affect your self-esteem and wellbeing.

In addition, having to work from home can be overwhelming. But what is not often spoken about, is that fact that feeling isolated can also lead to feelings of guilt.

It is just so hard to be a parent who is expected to go into daily battle with the children army; to be the home-schooler when you have forgotten half the things that you learned at school yourself; to be a loving spouse with the cooking skills of a world-renowned chef; to be person who must manage your natural instinct to be the hunter gatherer, simply because you know you can’t go anywhere!

Maintaining balance is tough, especially when you are consciously aware that you still must remain and be a professional.

People and money, eh? I guess we all secretly lust for social interaction, and the ability to access who and what we want or need, when we say we want or need it.

But do you want to know a little secret? You are special, unique and resilient.

You can get through this and come through stronger than ever before!

It starts with you.

There are many support links and agencies who are willing to help you on a personal basis – a first port of call would be your local Citizens Advice Bureau where you can arrange a free, confidential chat with someone who is there to listen, help you dissect what is going through your mind and to help you work out your next steps.

But what else can you do immediately? Here are 6 strategies that may help:

1) CLARIFY YOUR CASH – Write down exactly how much money you have, how much you need and the time scales between now and when you will receive more income again.

2) EMBRACE YOUR MONEY FEAR – A key step is to face the fear, of understanding how many financial challenges you have. Get a piece of paper. Draw 3 columns.

Make a list of all your key expenses i.e. household, that are non-negotiables and amounts, formal debtors i.e. loan companies, credit cards etc and amounts, and informal people whom you owe money to i.e. family, friends and amounts.

  • Add up the amounts for each column.
  • Then write down the amount that you could realistically afford for each organisation, person etc on the above list, when the next round of income comes in.
  • Add up these revised amounts and ringfence this revised amount.

3) COMMUNICATE WITH CREDITORS – Set aside one hour a day for the next 5 days. Contact every organisation and person on your list.

Explain your situation and offer to pay the revised amount by your timescale.

This quick 3 stage process will help you achieve the following key things:

  • Reality check on what you have: fear is a powerful influencer of change. But harnessing your fear by facing it, gives you back the power that you were allowing it to take from you.
  • Better understanding on what you must pay for: even if you already know what you must pay for, facing the actual number/s gives you clarity and the best position to act from.
  • Knowing where you can negotiate: any room for movement, multiplied, is a step closer to mental freedom
  • Building goodwill relationships with those who you must pay: showing willingness to pay, even if not in full, is always a positive way to manage financial relationships.

In addition,

4) TAKE REGULAR EXERCISE – There are many mental health benefits to exercise.

If nothing else, the ability to exert energy will provide you with the ability to ‘let out’ all the negativity that you are holding inside and have a positive impact on your body at the same time!

5) BE OPEN TO CHANGE - You are not alone, even if you think you are.

You may be feeling challenged with your financial well-being, because you feel you have a lack of information or do not feel informed enough, to make better financial decisions.

It is the same in business too! In our business, we often engage organisations looking for answers on how to grow, when often the information they require is already available from their own networks, industry and even within their own business – though not always easy, you learn to be open to look at the same situation through a different lens, and a whole new picture emerges!

The key thing is to be open to new information, open to being challenged on what you have chosen to believe and remind yourself that there are others who have been here too and have already the experience of returning to a state of positive well-being.

6) BRING IDEAS TO IMPROVE EMPLOYEE FINANCIAL WELL-BEING PROGRAMMES - whether you are an employee or have responsibility over several employees.

There should be a continuous and open dialogue on the development and improvement of employee financial well-being programmes.

Many programmes tend to base themselves around retirement provision. But in these uncertain times, the financial welfare of employees across all sections and departments of the business must go far beyond this and take a much more holistic approach of care. But such changes need to come from real-life challenges that employees face, to add sustainable value to their lives.

Employee well-being programmes provide the opportunity to positively impact in wider areas - from in-house dedicated debt and money management advisors, employee discount scheme partnership with local suppliers and/or corporate partners, through to loan/ISA saving schemes, better support and advice around salary saving schemes and more, regular dialogue on what is helping is needed.

In addition, alignment with life events can help ease the mental burden of these important and life-changing occasions. So, where you can, take appropriate action to help to adapt employee well-being schemes to meet key financial milestones such as getting married, buying a house or the birth a child.

In summary, financial well-being is challenging. But even more challenging is knowing that you must do something and doing nothing at all.

As we all go through this turbulent time, remember that you can get through this and you don’t have to do it alone, but it starts with you.

So, what is your next step?

Joel is a multi-award-winning businessman and public speaker, with a passion for driving personal and business growth. He is the Founder and CEO of GFA Exchange, a B2B FinTech start-up that benchmarks, rates and monitors business performance. Previously, he was the Executive for Growing Business and Access to Finance for the GBSLEP. Over the past 15 years, Joel has developed a credible reputation for innovating personal and business support ecosystems, advising professional bodies, public sector organisations and corporate firms on how to increase productivity through entrepreneurial leadership. He was awarded an OBE for Services to Business Support and Enterprise in 2016. Outside of GFA Exchange, Joel is Vice-President of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce, National Ambassador for the Institute of Leadership and Management, Fellow of the National Centre for Entrepreneurs and Board Member of Birmingham Symphony Hall and Town Hall.

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