Easter sits at the heart of the Christian calendar as it represents the time of Jesus’ resurrection. Even if you are not religious or you don’t follow Christianity, Easter along with Spring presents many people with the opportunity to start anew. Whether it be a Spring makeover for your home, a wardrobe cleanse, or a resolution towards a healthier lifestyle: Easter is a great time to initiate change.
One thing many people neglect and procrastinate over is sorting out their finances and making a stable financial plan for the rest of the year. Unlike throwing out old clothes which can help expunge negative energy, creating financial resolutions can arouse feelings of stress, which is why people commonly avoid it. It’s almost ironic therefore, that having a sustainable financial plan can decrease levels of anxiety and worry.
Building your financial resilience stems in part from having a good financial wellness and a motivated attitude to getting in control of your money. So, why not use Easter as a starting point to make small, medium, or even large changes to your financial habits? By Christmas, you’ll be certain to see the benefits.
Financial resilience can mean having less reliance on credit, better awareness of your financial commitments and an overall ability to manage life’s financial ups and downs. It may mean you feel confident that you have the resources to tackle any unexpected payments, or it could just mean being able to meet all of your priority bills comfortably. Your level of financial resilience will depend on your financial circumstances but that doesn’t mean you aren’t able to improve it.
Having financial resilience also improves your financial wellness, which is like your financial health but with more emphasis on your emotional and mental wellbeing. Financial health is typically defined as your financial circumstances: your income, outgoings, savings, retirement planning etc. Whereas financial wellness is how you feel about your financial health and the control you have over it. Even if you aren’t overindebted or struggling with your money, if you despair at having to conduct any financial tasks, your financial wellness could use some attention. Similarly, you can feel very positive about managing money, but still frequently miss payments and face arrears.
Before you attempt to improve your financial wellbeing, it’s important to highlight any root cause problems which trigger negative emotional responses making money management difficult to deal with. Unfortunately, we’re not psychologists, but spend some time trying to work out why you feel stressed or anxious when contemplating your finances. Do you worry that you don’t have enough money to cover your priority bills? Do you have spending habits which outweigh your income? Perhaps you are scared of debt altogether. Whatever the reason, try to identify it, and evaluate the extent to which that reason should make you feel so anxious about money. Then, little by little, take steps to tackle that particular problem. If you have a few reasons, start with one at a time, and consistently remind yourself that you should control your finances, not the other way round.
Creating a sustainable budget, setting reminders to make payments on time and even just starting financial tasks with a smile can help improve your financial wellness.
If you’re really struggling, reach out and talk to someone about what you’re dealing with. Your financial wellness is intrinsically linked to your mental health, so speak to friends and family, or someone from a debt advice charity. A problem shared is a problem halved, and you’ll probably find that you’re not alone in worrying about money.
Sometimes creating a yearly financial plan can be overwhelming and it’s important you’re in the right headspace to take a financial project on. If you don’t feel like assessing your annual income and expenditure right now, try some of the quick tips below to help in the short term. Just because it’s Easter, it doesn’t mean you need to resurrect your finances all in one go.
You should be able to check which direct debits and standing orders you have set up through mobile or online banking – otherwise you can review a previous bank statement or call your bank and ask. Even if you no longer make regular payments to a company, you might still have a direct debit set up. These are the easiest ones to cancel because you don’t have to worry about losing the service. Then, check which standing orders or direct debits are still necessary. Things like gym memberships often tick over month on month even if you don’t regularly go. You can cancel direct debits with the company, or you can cancel them through your bank, but you may need to notify the company to ensure you cancel according to their terms and conditions.
Consider the subscriptions you pay for – magazines, streaming services, games, apps – do you really need them? Do you frequently use them? It can be easy to sign up to 3 or 4 streaming services at a time, thinking it’s only a few quid, but added together, you could be paying upwards of £20 a month to watch television, on top of a typical tv license and package. Perhaps it might be an idea to review your TV packages and decide whether it’s worth paying £50 a month for 200 channels if you only watch 10. Additionally, you can check your app subscriptions in your phone settings to make sure you only renew the ones you actually need, and cancel the rest. Monthly savings like these will contribute consistently to improving your financial circumstances.
Email marketing is huge, and brands spend thousands of pounds working out how to entice you to their website to spend money. If you’re trying to cut down on your expenditure or just want to feel more in control of your income, try unsubscribing from marketing emails. If you’re not tempted on the hour to spend money – regardless of discounts – you might find it easier to stay away from online shopping.
Not every attempt to improve your financial circumstances involves directly reducing your expenditure. It could be as simple as planning in advance, unsubscribing from tempting emails or setting reminders for payments so you don’t accrue late fees. While Easter is a great time to start something new or reassess old habits, you can take control of your finances any time of the year. Maybe it takes a few attempts and a few different tips before something sticks, but even baby steps - like putting £10 into savings each month - will increase your financial resilience and your financial wellness.
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