MONEY, OR the lack of it, can cause many people a great deal of stress.
People often play mind games with themselves by worrying about certain situations: How will I be able to pay if my car breaks down? How will I cope if I lose my job?
But there are some simple ways to de-stress if you are worried about your financial position or future.
Worrying about money is especially true for people who are self-employed.
They worry about what might happen if business becomes slow and fear that they will not be able to pay their mortgage, for example.
Most businesses go through peaks and troughs and it is of course during the lean times when people start to stress.
Even though new peaks are possibly just around the corner, it becomes very hard to remain positive.
Others might be on zero hours contracts and fear that, at any time, they may not have work and hence not be able to pay the bills.
My advice to people who are self-employed or facing insecure work is to build up a financial safety net.
You could, for example, set a goal to save enough money to live on for three months or so. This money can be saved when you are in a good period and it can support you when the income from your business hits a lean period or you find yourself without work.
The periods when business is slow can be used to recharge the batteries or think up fresh ideas for the direction you want the business to go in.
However, the key to building up a financial safety net is having the self-discipline to, firstly, regularly put money into a savings account, and secondly, to track how much you spend each month.
For all people it is important to know how much money is likely to be coming in every month and how much is likely to be going out.
If you run your own business this isn’t all that easy to do, especially if certain times of the year bring in more money or incur more costs than other periods.
But it’s likely that your home budget is going to be fairly easy to predict.
If the amount that is seemingly going out is more than what is coming in, you then need to look at what you are spending.
This next idea might seem a little sad but can actually be quite fun.
I’ve often advised people to keep a record during one month of everything they spend.
It is not as hard as it may sound and will give you an insight on how much money you actually waste.
For example, how many of us are members of a gym, but never actually go there? How much money do you spend on takeaway food per month? Do you always need to use the car? Is it not possible to walk a little more of ten, therefore saving on petrol costs?
How much money do you spend on cigarettes? Do you really need the latest fancy television? During the good times we can afford to waste money.
However, if you are worrying about money, it’s time to tighten your belt.
I myself try to save a certain amount of money per month and invest it in a unit trust.
Over time the fund value builds up and if I ever need a lump sum – for car repairs, perhaps – I just cash in some of the units.
I also allow myself to take out a certain amount of money at the start of each year.
This helps me to pay for my some essentials such as car insurance, road tax and to book a family holiday.
This has been working well for me for the last five years and is something I plan to continue.
It is always worth planning for the future in this way, not just to cover you if your car breaks down but also for many other reasons.
You may want to build up a little nest egg to:
- buy a new car
- have a great holiday
- buy a house
- re-locate abroad
- buy a business
- help your retirement
- fund your children’s university fees.
I am now aware of how much money I am likely to spend per month. I love to have treats and waste money as much as the next person. But when money is tight I am more than happy to give up these treats and see it as a battle of wills.
This article appears in the January edition of The Voice newspaper – out now. Download your copy of the paper here.