This likely won’t come as a surprise to many of you, but Canadians have a lot of debt. According to Statistics Canada (June 2016), for every $100 in disposable income, we have $168 in consumer debt. This debt is often a huge cause of stress in our lives. A 2015 Sun Life Canada Health Index poll showed that the top three drivers of Canadians stress are all related to our finances, and the number one stressor is “money.”
This stress comes from a variety of places: living on a low income, a job with variable hours, and the challenges of managing our household budget. A major life event such as divorce, illness or death can also cause a massive amount of financial stress.
This financial stress impacts our mental and physical health. After the financial crisis in 2008, anti-depressant use spiked in the US. Financial stress has also been linked to high blood pressure and back pain.
So what are some strategies to reduce the impact of financial stress? A recent Huffington Post article suggests these three steps:
1) Talk about it!
If you are stressed about money, it’s important to think about what your financial situation looks like, and where you’d like to make changes. Set goals on your own or together if you have a partner and keep them somewhere you both can see them.
2) Develop a plan and stick to it
Putting together a budget is your first step in getting your financial situation back on track. Understanding where your money is going—and the small changes you can make with your spending—will go a long way in reducing financial stress. Attend a free Budgeting Workshop at Momentum to learn more.
3) Get some help
It can be hard to talk to a stranger about your financial situation, but there are experts out there who can really help. Organisations like Money Mentors or the Credit Counselling Society offer free budgeting help and debt counselling.