A few years ago, while working on a promotional campaign, I learned that 44% of Canadians report money as being their main source of stress. This equates to nearly 6,700 of our colleagues feeling the impact of mental fatigue and psychological strain resulting from money stress each day. This is in addition to the plethora of other stresses that we carry around with us in our daily lives.
Personally, finances have always been a bit of a headache for me. I do not have a brain attuned to numbers and I am easily bored during discussions of investments, equity and RRSPs. This is something that I am consciously working on, because I am aware of the very real potential to set myself up for financial frustrations and even failures. Truthfully, the prospect of even writing an editorial on the subject had me tentatively approaching my keyboard as if it might jump off the desk and ask me to complete a page of long division.
Am I alone in my feelings? Are these mixed feelings of apathy and terror actually a manifestation of the stress that I feel about finances? Money carries such an immense weight in our society, loaded with profound consequences and sometimes, rather than deal with the stress, I choose to pretend nothing is wrong.
Something I do feel passionate about however is mental health. If we do not have our mental health or the capacity to be resilient in our lives, we can become ill-equipped to deal with financial challenges. If we work to protect and build our mental health, then we can feel more in control of all aspects of our lives, which results in an increase in physical, mental and financial wellbeing.
Below are some pointers that I have found helpful over the years and if I can make them work, then anyone can! Financially savvy or not, we can all use some tips to boost positive mental health, reduce financial stress and improve money management.
Money tips for mental health
Talk to an impartial third party-When in the bank, I can feel that I am being pressured and that the business interests of the bank take precedent over my personal understanding and comfort. Find a bank or an independent financial institution to get all of your questions answered. You will get the information you need while feeling validated.
Keep a change jar – I have a partner who hates to carry around change in his pockets. We keep a change jar on hand and empty our wallets, pockets and bags periodically. This not only keeps your body and clothing physically lighter but also helps you save. Last year we bought a new TV with our change jar money!
Automatic transfers– One of the best inventions in the world in my opinion. The money is funneled into a predetermined savings account before it even has a chance to hit my chequing account. I don’t feel that I’m losing money and in turn am very happy when I see my savings grow. It also helps to actually label and name what the savings funds are for. This makes it harder to divert the funds toward something else.
Ask for the whole story-If you are in a relationship or family with other money earners, talking openly and honestly about finances can be very beneficial. It will give you an understanding of the big picture without the looming possibility of financial surprises you may not be in a position to handle.
Eliminate excuses with technology-download a financial planning or budgeting app to a smartphone or tablet. This eliminates the excuse of being unaware of spending habits or account balances. I find when I can see something visually represented in front of me (in real time) that it has a more profound impact on my behavior.
Find the Freebies-Look into perks, discounts and free events that allow you to have fun without breaking the bank. A great suggestion: UBC’s Staff and Faculty Sports Day! This free one-day event is a great opportunity for teambuilding, physical and mental activity and most of all fun!
With tax season knocking at the door, I invite you to try and shift your perceptions about money and re-frame them in a way that increases both their manageability and your positive mental health.
All my best,