The jury’s out on whether money can buy you happiness but there is no doubt that not having the sense you are in control of it or believing, whatever your income, that you are not earning enough of it can have a negative impact on your wellbeing.
Maybe you can’t afford a comfortable place to live, can’t scrape together enough to pay off your credit cards or gambling debts. Maybe you don’t seem valued enough for a pay rise at work or you simply consider yourself worse off compared with your peers - unable to afford the lifestyle that they lead or the restaurants that they book. Or, perhaps you are struggling with a mental health condition such as bipolar that has symptoms of manic overspending, or depression and anxiety that make you unable to open a letter from your bank or make a phone call to your energy company - both are extremely common.
A quarter of people will experience a mental health issue this year but we are all liable to let money, and the emotions surrounding it, get on top of us. Money and unhappiness can form a vicious circle as those with serious mental health conditions may be unable to carry on earning as normal when in the depths of a crisis. According to Mind, the mental health charity, people with a mental health problem are three times as likely to be in debt than those without.
Those who are struggling with their finances, or the way that money makes them feel, are more likely to fall prey to mental health problems as a consequence. People in unmanageable debt are 33 per cent more prone than those not in debt to develop depression and anxiety, Mind’s research shows. But there are some practical steps you can take to help you feel better.
Monitor your spending
Keeping a money diary can help you see clearly when it is you lose motivation to keep control of your finances, or when you might spend more money than normal to make yourself feel better. “It could be that talking to people about money makes you feel really stressed, or you feel very anxious when you know bills are about to leave your account,” says Paul Spencer, policy manager of Mind. “Recognising patterns might help you prepare for a stressful time that’s coming up.”
With Starling, customers receive a notification to their phone when money comes in or out of their account or when a bill is coming up. Customers can also see a monthly breakdown of their spend by merchant and automatic calculations of how much they’ve spent on travel or shopping, helping them to understand their spending habits month to month.