It isn’t uncommon to be stressed out and worried about your finances.
But when that stress and worry affects your life and mental health, it’s time to get help.
And, as Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada says, worrying doesn’t solve anything.
“Whether we like it or not, money impacts every area of our life,” she said.
Recently, Credit Canada and Capital One Canada released a survey of 1,534 Canadians looking at the relationship between financial issues, stress and mental health. The survey’s focus also applies to Credit Education Week, which begins Nov. 13.
According to the #MoneyMindfulness survey, 30 per cent of Canadians are more worried about financial stress than their overall health. On average, those surveyed said they spend seven hours a week worrying about finances (or 365 hours a year). For those who responded saying financial stress was their largest daily worry, those numbers climbed to 16 hours a week worrying about finances, or 832 hours in a year.
Campbell said financial stress can lead to lack of sleep, lack of focus, health problems, confrontations with a partner and even addiction issues.
One thing people can do is be more mindful of their financial decisions, such as purchasing items they don’t need that are beyond their financial means, she said.
“And you can ask yourself daily a question: am I further away from my goals or am I closer to my goals?” – Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada
“We know that the stress and negative feelings resulting from overspending and not living within an individual’s means are not worth the purchase of any particular item.”
Rather than spending time worrying, use that time to look at your finances, income and debt.
“Get rid of your high-interest debts first. Look at your goals. I think one reason people tend to get into this cycle of debt over and over again is they don’t have any solid goals,” she said.
“And you can ask yourself daily a simple question: am I further away from my goals or am I closer to my goals?”
Campbell said the main areas people are financially struggling with include credit card debt, lines of credit and home equity lines of credit.
She added a lot of things happen to people that can affect their financial situation, such as job loss, divorce and health problems.
Even so, according to Industry Canada, the number one issue that leads to bankruptcies is money mismanagement.
The good aspect of this is that money mismanagement is something that can be changed.
“It’s in your control as to how you manage your money,” said Campbell.
Also helping people deal with financial issues and stress is Family Service P.E.I., a non-profit charitable organization. Kathy Jones, executive director, said the organization is unique in that it offers both credit counselling and therapeutic counselling, and, when required, the two services overlap to help people. When it’s realized someone is experiencing emotional issues as a result of their financial issues, they will be referred to a clinical therapist for additional help.
“It is difficult to reach out and get help. That’s why we’re very fortunate to have these two programs working hand-in-hand. Sometimes people will reach out because they are struggling with the degree of debt they have, and are wondering what their options are,” she said.
Jones said clients can deal with a variety of financial issues, especially those involving lines of credit and car loans, which can lead to calls from creditors and difficulty providing for one’s family.
“We see people sometimes in absolute despair to the point that they could even be suicidal because of the financial issues they’re facing,” she said.
James Reddin, a counsellor at University of Prince Edward Island said students are caught in a “perfect storm” with respect to financial and academic pressures and stress. He said students are facing pressures and more competition to obtain high grades and either get a good job or get accepted into a graduate or professional program while carrying debt. And if a student has to take on a part-time job to pay the bills, that can take away from the time that should be devoted to full-time studies or to volunteer or research experiences that can help achieve the end goals.
“We’re in an era where the stakes of education are getting higher. There was a time if you kept your head down, did a decent job at your work and graduated with a ‘B’ average with a university degree, that gave you a good chance at landing a good job,” he said.
“There’s still definitely some stats that show a university education, overall, leaves you better off. But it’s getting tighter... So, that contributes to the stress as well.”