Financial Stress: The Impact on Wellbeing

Whenever I say to Tim ‘we need to chat’, he instantly goes pale and sits down. Except he knows I’m not about to divorce him. It’s the line I use to discuss our finances and he knows I’m probably about to cry.

You see, Tim hates chatting about money, whereas I like to know where EVERY SINGLE penny is going.  Yes, I am the financial advisor in our relationship and on the whole, I feel like I’m pretty much rubbish at it.

I wish I could sit here and blame the Government (and I probably will anyway) but alas, I do have to put my hands up and take some/most of the responsibility. Truth be told, I was in a very fortunate position when I went to uni in that my parents paid my rent which meant that my student loan was for food, clothes and living (oh and text books). In those days, Netflix, SkyGo, Now TV and Amazon Prime didn’t exist. In fact, when I started university, YouTube didn’t exist. The mind boggles.

Instead, I spent a LARGE proportion of my loan on alcohol (well that was a waste) and DVD’s (mostly a waste). If someone had just said to me “Chantelle, save half of your student loan”, I’m pretty sure I would have ended up marrying that person (sorry Tim), because that right there could have been my 5% deposit for a house or half of my wedding fund.

In addition to this, having epilepsy is pretty costly and I don’t even have to pay for my prescriptions. It’s the extra petrol if someone takes you somewhere and comes back to pick you up, it’s the days you may have to take off sick, it’s the consequences of managing your stress levels when you have to quit a placement because you were placed in an inappropriate setting (#justsayin) or when you have to quit a job because of the excessive travel.

Now I honestly thought I was pretty rubbish at handling our money, but it turns out I’m pretty much doing everything you should be doing (according to these guys), yet I still feel like our financial future is looking pretty bleak.

You see, when I look around me, most of my friends have their own homes, are married and having babies, are in stable jobs, spend their weekends in Europe and are pretty much sorted. However, if I make myself analyse each person’s situation, it’s a very different story.

Most of my friends have their home because of the bank of Mum and Dad. My parents were kind enough to spend their money on my education and as often as I wish I had my own home, I do sit there patting myself on the back thinking of the primary school teacher who (to paraphrase) said I wouldn’t amount to much and now I’m a MASTER of Science x TWO*.

photography of people graduating
Photo by Emily Ranquist on Pexels.com

In fact half of my friends careers are changing because the guidance we were given at school is no longer applicable. I have one friend who quit their job to retrain and become self employed, another who has taken a year out to train as a teacher, another who is moving abroad to complete their PhD and obviously myself who has had to get creative in how to fashion a career out of a weird skill set. Many girls from my school are hitting social media (and doing pretty darn well), but considering social media didn’t exist at the time of our career guidance, they’ve had to learn as they go.

Sadly some of my friends are now getting divorced, but aside from the loss of a husband/wife, you have the financial implications of lawyers, house sales and other accrued debt. If separation wasn”t an option (you know, because they still like each other), some of my friends haven’t been able to live together because they can only get jobs at different ends of the country.

The problem is, we spend so much time comparing our successes to others it can be pretty darn depressing. In fact, everyone is battling their own financial difficulties and being creative in how to stay afloat. Despite this,  comparison continues to be thrust upon us. How many times do we hear ‘why are you renting?! Just buy a house!’ – okay I shall. You’re paying yeah? Even our humble friends on YouTube inadvertently start discussing their Chanel bags and Audi R8s without realising how inadequate their audience must feel.

For me, the point is we need to start talking more openly about our financial struggles. I’m aware by definition I’m not poor (not at the moment anyway) but I have been when in the early years of my life and if I don’t get a job sometime soon we will have to start making proper sacrifices.

We hear all too much about how stress contributes to mental health – financial stress is a HUGE contributing factor yet no one seems to want to talk about it. But how can we not? In March, Diesel was £1.15 per litre, it’s now £1.29 (if you’re lucky), and I’ve probably mentioned my shrinkflation rage in another blog about Maltesers?!

If we are going to keep our wellbeing intact we need to stop comparing ourselves to our peers. Not just financially, but in all areas. Yes it would be wonderful if I could go out and buy a house next week (and in the HIGHLY UNLIKELY event that I win the lottery I’m not going to pretend I won’t go and do just that), but we need to remove this pressure of ‘achieving’ all our goals by the time we are 20 or 30 – so what if I buy a house at 40 instead?

But for now I am now off to practice what I preach (deletes RightMove off phone and goes to write a strongly worded letter to Mars about the cost of Maltesers).

*Dramatised for your entertainment.

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