Money doesn't "buy" happiness, but it can affect wellbeing
Research has shown that while money does not "buy" fulfilment, it can contribute to our sense of wellbeing. Those who have fewer money concerns report a sense of confidence, freedom and peace of mind. Sadly, the pandemic has caused so many people to feel anxious about money. Even with the government support for furlough and the various sectors, as well as intiatives such as "eat out to help out", uncertainty over money is a huge cause of stress.
However, there are a few practical things we can do in the short term, as well as think about how we might be able to make adjustments in the future in case of further rainy days:
1. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
This may include gym membership, beauty boxes, things which you were not optimising the use of prior to the pandemic - or found yourself in less need of during it. Also look at your app accounts - sometimes there are "rollover" subscriptions which for which you can cancel renewal. If you find you do need them there will often be offers for new sign ups.
2. Find the joy in the free stuff
Watch a YouTube video and cook with the family. Consider upcycling and recycling to save wastage. While presents are nice, what I have found the nicest to receive have been handwritten cards and letters - just checking in. The very act of seeing the handwriting, for me releases the bonding hormone oxytocin which makes me feel close to the sender.
3. Make the most of the entertainment you have
Are you using your Netflix account to the fullest? Have you considered YouTube for fitness videos or even karaoke? What about dusting off the Christmas board games? (Games, especially co-operative ones such as (no pun intended) "Pandemic", or "Forbidden Desert"
are a great way to engage the family). Are there vouchers or discounts you can make use of?
4. Even if you don't want it, someone else might
If you are no longer using that bike, someone else may want it. Have a clearout of your wardrobe and see what you no longer use (that includes bags and accessories).
5. If you've gotten creative, can you Etsy?
If you've developed some skills (point 2) - think about whether you can turn a hobby into a business. Alternatively, perhaps you've taken up poetry or art - can you frame and sell some of your creations?
6. Is there are new gap in the market to start a business?
What is it people need right now? Our lifestyles have changed, which means new opportunities may have opened. Many people going back to work may have bought pets during lockdown - are you able to pet-sit or dog walk? Look aound for new options.
7. Spend on the person you are not the person you "want" to be
If you aren't going to the gym right now, don't spend a lot of money on the finest workout gear. If you haven't bought the house yet, don't buy the interior decorating.
8. Track your finances
There are many apps to track your spending, some of which allow you to start with your monthly budget allocation and expenditure is deducted. This also keeps you conscious of what you are spending on, you may identify areas of unnecessary expense which can be reduced.
9. Plan your shopping
A few tips here for shopaholics:
- Shop close to home, research shows we spend more when we are on holiday or away from shops we are familiar with.
- Shop with cash (although the pandemic may not allow for this). Psychologically, though, handing over cash makes you more aware you are spending than handing over a card.
- Check your bank statements
- Shop solo - as you may otherwise be "goaded" into buying what you don't need.
FINALLY some general tips for better budgeting
10. Joint or separate accounts?
This is often personal preference, but while I have a joint account with my husband for joint bills, we both keep our personal income separate and pay a fixed amount into the joint. For us, this is just simpler for us to keep track, but also it means one of you is less likely to get saddled with debts of the other. Not that you should suspect foul play is a certainty, but one's own debt is hard enough without being responsible for someone else's.
11 Do not be tempted to go into debt to pay off debt
This means be mindful of where you borrow money. Check interest rates on credit cards and be aware that payday loans often include huge interest payments. Buying yourself a spa day to feel better when you are in debt will only compound the problem, so if you need support then speak to a debt counsellor.
12 Never LOSE money
A bad investment can include a bad relationship. You do not need to pay someone's debts off to show you love them.
13 Expensive gifts are NOT a substitute for love
Relating to my earlier point, you do not need to "buy" love. If someone is asking you to, really think about whether that is the sort of relationship you want to be in. You can also say "no thank you" to generous friends whom you may worry are spending more than you can repay. You do not need to snub them, but explaining your situation and how you would want to repay them but can't may actually deepend your understanding of each other. Alternatively, if you do want to gift, as above, gift the time you put into making something special.
14 Invest in YOURSELF
No-one can tax you, steal you or devalue you - so always think about how your spending also helps contribute to your personal goals.
For more support, go to my instagram LIVE with The Chrissy B Show on this topic.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; watch her psychology & coaching masterclasses on YouTube Or catch her hosting Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV where she and her team discuss how psychology affects our behaviours in the workplace and what we can do about it. Follow her on Twitter/IG @draudreyt