Aside from low esteem, lack of self worth, depression, PTSD and suffering from workplace bullying, another key factor which led my friend Del to take his own life in 2013 was the stress of the financial future. Worried that his illness could cost him his job, he could see no way forwards, no way to protect and provide for his family, and no outlook which seemed possible. Tragically, I only knew of this after he died.
Had Del sought professional financial help instead of suffering quietly, allowing the stories of worry to spin out of control, without doubt we could have found a way to change his perspective, and work together to build a way forward. Instead, here we are, on the eve of a fundraising concert in his (and another friend's) memory, raising funds and awareness for Cornwall Search and Rescue, and Carrick MIND.
Picking up the pieces, and working with Del's wife Nel, we have been able to help, to give her purpose, and to bring a little sparkle back into her eyes at times, and that is all worth while.
Be you in the UK, US, or anywhere in the world, here are 6 stressful money situations which may seem difficult to avoid, yet are never the end of the road - there is always a way forwards ...
1. Dealing with a financial emergency - If you do not have capital saved, make sure you have an emergency credit card to fall back on. This is a temporary solution, but will give you enough time to seek proper advice, and make a plan to move forwards.
2. Buying a home - here is a stresspit of worry. Should you borrow as much as possible? Should you use all your savings? What protection should you have? The questions are endless, yet can be answered if some proper planning and modelling is carried out.
3. How much to save for retirement - no two people are the same, there is no magic number which fits everyone. Only when you know what you would value in retirement, can you start to figure out what you may need money-wise. This is the importance of financial life planning - an approach which puts your life at the centre of the plan, not the monetary values. You may be surprised, the qualities in life which you want may not required huge sums of money at all.
4. Knowing when to retire - just as above, no two people are the same. If you have a range of plans and ideas which need you to be fit and healthy, maybe you need to retire sooner. If you love what you do, but can start to find a great balance between that and leisure, then there may be no reason to rush into it. Either way, discussing a planning it is essential.
5. Deciding how much to support your children - it's hard to say no, and at the same time, many of us would rather see our children not have to struggle. Making it too easy may not be a good thing, but saving it all up until you die - that too has it's own perils. Whatever you do, by a balanced plan, and sensible approach, you could be able to help your children along, and at the same time, helping them value what they are given. Above all, don't deprive yourself of the fun you deserve later in life (but also, don't aim to be the richest person in the cemetery).
6. Understanding how to help your parents - one of the trickiest conversations of all is talking about your parent's money. Naturally cagey, they may not want to volunteer the information (and is is hard to not look as if you are interested in an inheritance, particularly if they are unwell). Bring siblings into the conversation, and start the discussions well ahead of time to figure out what sources may be available for long term care funding, and of course, what wishes they have. In the same way that you want to enjoy your life, they should be focussing on their days being as comfortable as possible, not scrimping and saving and trying to get one over on the local authority by not paying for care (saving the fees, but ending up in a grotty care home).
By proper planning, and discussing these issues with a professional, there is a chance that many of the most stressful money situations can either be avoided, or at least alleviated.
Please, please do not let them spin out of control stories in your head. Ask for help, get a reality check, and let someone guide you onwards.
"People under stress perform differently than when they're not under stress and make all kinds of bad decisions,"