This is entry one of my financial health blog. A collection of notes and articles that start as thoughts. Hello! I am Alex, a co-host of the FI UK podcast. I’m a mental health nurse currently working in substance misuse and addictions. All publications are my thoughts only, they are intended to be interesting and informative. They should not be considered financial or medical advice. If you need either of these then please consult a professional.
Your financial health. You may have considered it, you may not. There are many facets to a person’s health. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, societal… the list goes on. If I forgot one (likely) please email me so I can learn from you. I think financial health should be included as it can impact us in many different ways. Some good, others disastrous.
The aspect I wanted to discuss today is financial health, a term used to measure a person’s finances. It can answer the theoretical and real question, ‘’will this person be okay if X, Y or Z should occur?’’ and it can give a ‘’yes’’, ‘’no’’, ‘’maybe’’, ‘’I don’t know’’ or ‘’I’ll cross my fingers and hope’’ type of answer.
Personally, I have thought about this but never written it down anywhere, until now. Originally my answer came back as ‘’no’’ and that was a precursor to a whole bunch of financial anxiety. My original question was ‘’Would I be financially okay if I didn’t receive my next monthly wage?’’. I procrastinated on this for another month, then I eventually addressed it.
Anxiety is a real thing. I have worked in the field of mental health for 7 years now and it can affect anyone, at a moment’s notice, without warning. Yes, it has innate roots. It should keep us safe from danger, deep water, cliffs, sharks (insert scary thing here). However, when it enters your life in other areas, such as money, it can be problematic. This is something I want to try and help other people with as I see financial components negatively impacting mental health all too often.
The solution to reduce anxiety around money is to have some money saved up, sounds simple, right? It is much harder in practice.
The aim is to ease this anxiety by having the knowledge that if (insert unplanned event here) were to happen you can buy yourself that most precious of resources, time. Time to look for work, to take some time off if you are unwell or need to travel to visit a loved one or anything else that money can solve. Having the funds available if you need to travel (pre-pandemic) somewhere to see a friend or relative really helps the process whatever that may be (joy, grieving, a catch up over coffee) go more smoothly.
How do you start? You pay yourself first. No matter how small the amount. After you get paid, set a portion of it aside.
If you don’t want to wait and you have £10 or even £1 spare somewhere, put it in an envelope, a jar or even underneath your bed. This small act will be the stepping stone to good financial practices and furthermore you know you have some amount of money, however small, set aside for life, which seems to throw unpredictable events at you at the worst possible time, every time.
Next time you get paid, add to this fund first and it will grow bit by bit. If you have to spend it in an emergency, that’s okay, that’s why we have it, but be strict with yourself, perhaps write a list of reasons you can spend it. Please don’t include silly reasons, you are only cheating you and future you. Make it hard to access on a whim. I find my own emergency fund works best if I cannot see it as part of my online banking screens, or perhaps for you, you take comfort seeing the figure and knowing it’s there. Whatever helps you sleep best at night.
If you have read this far, thankyou. I have a few books at home that are on our reading list and I wanted to share these with people who frequent the podcast/blog. If you look at our reading list some books have an asterix next to the title, these denote the books I personally own. Choose one and I will post it to you. Email me using the email address on the contact page and put ‘Send me a book’ as the email subject. UK addresses only for now.
That’s it for today, this small change is the first step to getting rid of anxiety around money.
Mental health resources, if you are struggling, that’s okay, you are not alone, please ask for help.
Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org Telephone: 116 123
Shout: https://giveusashout.org/get-help/ (Text based support service)