Financial Stress Tips
Let’s start with a reminder. This is a judgment-free zone. Taking advantage of the financial options available to you does not make you a failure or a cheat. It makes you a person with resources.
Financial stress can take a toll on anyone’s mental health, at any time, especially when we feel the need to cover it up. It’s not like we go around telling everyone our financial sorrows. But maybe we should. As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Your health matters! If you do not have good physical and mental health, you have nothing. You’ve lost the asset that makes your life worth living. And just like any other asset, you need to protect it. Financial stress can add unnecessary mental pressure, especially during uncertain times like during the COVID-19 global health crisis.
Fortunately, I’m typically one of the first people, my friends, family, and clients turn to when financial hiccups come up. I am honoured to help, to be a resource, to use my knowledge and bring back financial stability and certainty to their finances. But when people feel shame, guilt, or even embarrassment, they are often scared to reach out, so they wait. I wish they would have reached out sooner. I am confident I can help and, no matter the situation, I am here to listen with kindness, respect, and empathy.
Timing and Teamwork
Time is of the essence when dealing with financial bruises. When you wait too long, it can make the situation far more challenging to repair; options become limited as credit scores falter. Reasonable and affordable solutions are no longer accessible. The quicker I know about the problem, the faster I can find affordable solutions. Even in the direst of circumstances, I am eager to help guide clients to a more secure place but it’s to everyone’s benefit when I can layout as many options as possible.
You Don’t Need Money To Have A Money Team
If you’re feeling like you’re drowning or doing a fast dog paddle, I recommend you speak with your “money team.” Believe me, you don’t need to have money in order to have a money team! So who’s on your money team? It may be a trusted friend, a parent, a financial planner, a sibling, or – remember me?! – your mortgage broker. Start your conversation with someone you trust and remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you’re not even sure where to start, call me. I’m here to help. It’s not just my job; it’s my passion. I love to problem-solve; more importantly, I like to listen.
In case you’re finding it hard to formulate your thoughts, take a look at some of the challenging topics and common questions I’ve been discussing with clients lately.
What Financial Stress Looks Like
I bet you’ve seen the classic example of “financial stress” on a movie before. The cute socialite is flirting with the hunky coffee shop owner and – horrors of all horrors – her credit card is declined! But real-life financial stressors don’t always look like they do in the movies and may include one or more of the following.
- I am unemployed. My partner is unemployed. We’re both unemployed.
- I’m under-employed and not meeting my full financial potential.
- My savings account is empty. Wait – what savings account?
- I have limited or no retirement funds or plans.
- I have a limited income.
- My monthly expenses exceed my income.
- I’m recovering from costly health issues.
- I can’t afford to give my children what they need.
- I helped a family member; now, I need help.
- My credit cards are all maxed.
- I may not be able to make my next mortgage payment.
- I don’t know what I’m doing.
If this is you, know that you’re not alone. Canadians are facing serious financial stress. Over 10000 Canadians went bankrupt or filed for a proposal in March, and something tells me that the Canadian bankruptcy curve won’t flatten anytime soon.
The short answer: Maybe. Refinancing is an excellent solution for some people in certain circumstances. But it may not be your best option or even your only option. With all the help the government is offering right now, and with lenders offering deferrals on payments, you may have more options than you realize if your income is suffering due to economic changes as a result of the COVID-19 global health crisis. We can explore refinancing as an option, of course. But we’ll also discuss ALL your options to make sure you are getting the best possible terms, short term and long term.
Things Are Bad. Could I Lose My Home If I File For Bankruptcy?
That’s probably not what you were expecting, was it?
If we talk early enough, no. Losing your house is a very rare occurrence. Lenders want you to maintain your home – and your home payments – if it all possible. But should your finances remain unstable for more than a few months, insolvency may become a reality. It is oftentimes a saving grace. For some individuals where the financial stress has been high for months or even years, an insolvency proposal or bankruptcy can be a blessing in disguise.
Insolvency Is An Unavoidable Part Of My Future. What’s My Next Step?
I have trusted referral partners who are happy to help. The first consultation is typically free, requires no commitment, and, most important, everything is completely confidential. Call me and I’ll point you in the right direction.
The Most Important Financial Makeover Is Making Over Your Financial Conversations
Like with all personal issues, we remove the stigma when we talk about it. Open the discussion at the dinner table, discuss money with your kids, your parents, maybe even your grandparents. I’m particularly worried about our students and our seniors at this critical time. We owe it to them to check-in. Are they paying their bills? On-time? Do thoughts about tuition keep them up at night? Keep an open dialogue about financial stress and mental health with all your loved ones. We owe it to each other to stick together right now.
Financial Literacy Isn’t A Buzzword. It’s A Skill – One That’s Rarely Taught
If only society put a stronger emphasis on financial literacy. It’s a skill, and one heck of a valuable one at that. Imagine if our schools taught financial literacy alongside English literature, geography, and history! But if you’re like me, financial literacy is a skill I had to pursue on my own. Thankfully, you can too.
There’s no time like the present to increase your financial knowledge. Thanks to the COVID-19 global health crisis, chances are that you have nowhere to go. You might as well read! Crack a book, Kindle, or listen in Audible (they have a free 30-day offer). I’ve placed a few links below to get you started. The links below lead to an inexpensive Kindle/audio download but if you prefer the feel of an actual book, visit a local bookstore (Ottawa’s Octopus books is excellent)
If I missed one you felt was helpful, please share in the comments! As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Seriously, I’m here – and I have answers.
Short on cash? Doris Belland’s kindle is free, and she’s from Ottawa too!
As always, I am here if you need me.