Overcoming Financial Stress

Written by Kelley Keehn

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

recent survey by non-profit FP Canada revealed that money continues to be the number one source of stress among Canadians, over health, work, and relationships.

The Financial Uncertainty of COVID-19

According to the survey:

  • Nearly 40% of Canadians say COVID-19 has impacted their financial stress levels
  • 1-in-10 say COVID-19 has significantly impacted their financial stress levels

Nearly Half of Canadians Have Lost Sleep Over Financial Worries

The survey found:

  • 49% of Canadians have lost sleep over financial worries
  • Younger Canadians (under 35) are significantly more likely to have lost sleep due to money stress than those over 35 (55% to 46%)
  • Women (54%) are more likely to lose sleep than men (43%)

The First Step to Lowering Stress is to Take Charge

"Money, health, relationships and work are deeply interconnected. Stress in any one of those domains can compound problems in the others," said Dr. Moira Somers, Ph.D., C.Psych, a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in mental and financial wellbeing.

"Taking proactive measures is a big step towards creating financial stability and confidence in the future."

Here are some simple things you can do to ease your anxiety.

Step 1: Get Organized

You may have made a mortgage payment or other debt payment deferral, or deferred paying your property taxes, or even corporate taxes owed to Canada Revenue Agency.

Make a list of what you owe, the interest rates and monthly payments and add the details and due dates to your online calendar to remind yourself of when they're due. With distractions at home, it's easy to accidentally miss a bill payment.

If you're facing continued financial hardship and can't make your payments, be sure to call your bank or creditor weeks in advance of your payment due date. It can often take at least five business days for an agreement to be put in place.

Be extra cautious about your phone and power bills. Paying all debts on time if you can is always important, but especially now, you don't want your phone or internet down because you missed a payment or two.

Step 2: Track Your Spending to See Where You Can Trim the Fat

You may feel you need to indulge sometimes to get through the crisis. There's nothing wrong with that, so don't be too hard on yourself.

However, there could be financial fat that can be trimmed. Do you have several streaming subscriptions you could temporarily cut until you get back on your feet?

If you're carrying a balance on a high interest rate credit card, could you get into a lower interest rate product? Would you be willing to wait on hold for a bit with your phone and internet provider to see if you can get a better deal?

Check out my 30-Day Anti-Budget for some simple ways to track your expenses this month through greater awareness without sacrifice.

Step 3: Talk It Out

Remember, if you're dealing with financial stress and uncertainty, you're not alone. But keeping all of your worries to yourself can exacerbate the problem.

If stress causes you to lose sleep or do nothing about it because you're feeling too embarrassed or fearful, reach out to friends and family to share your concerns and see what they're doing to cope.

Your bank and other financial professionals can also be a source of comfort and direction.

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