While it’s important to regularly think about your money, worries about managing your finances can impact your mental health, but you’re not alone - most young people under 25 say they regularly worry about money. Financial stress can also affect how well you sleep, which can impact your mood and ability to cope with other pressures and responsibilities. It can sometimes feel like a never-ending cycle, but don’t worry, there’s support available.
Our tips for looking after your finances and your mental health:
1. Talk to someone
Talking things through with someone can help you to get perspective, to take some time away from the things that are worrying you, and to get ideas for new things you can try to manage what’s worrying you. Sometimes just saying it out loud can help you to process what you’re feeling. Talking to someone can help you to make more informed, positive choices. Get financial advice from a trusted source – check out the links below.
2. Learn how to budget realistically
Budgeting is something we all know we’re meant to do, but often aren’t clued up on how to do it. Put simply, it’s about planning your spending so you don’t have more going out than coming in. Break up your income into weekly chunks, and figure out how much you need to spend on essentials (like food and bills), and from that you can work out how much you have left to spend on non-essentials (like clothes, tech, and going out). Check out these free resources from a dedicated website called MoneyHelper (formally the Money Advice Service).
There are apps that can help you budget for each week, and to save extra pennies, like Emma. Banks like Monzo have “round-ups” which automatically round up each payment you make to the nearest £1, and put the money aside for you in a savings pot. Apps like these give you a breakdown of all your spending in different categories and can add spending limits to help you manage your money.
3. Find out if you’re entitled to any financial support
If you’re a student or about to go to uni, you can access guidance from the Student Loans Company (England, Wales and NI) or Scotland and check the student finance calculator to see what extra help you might be able to get. Your university may also have access to a hardship fund, which you usually don’t have to pay back. Check out your local authority website to see what support they can offer.
4. Seek support from trusted organisations – avoid payday loans
If you’re struggling financially, be careful about where you go to for support. Payday loans are a quick-fix but they can land you in more trouble, in a loop of owing money that you can’t get out of. If you can’t afford to buy something right now, avoid using pay-later services like Klarna or credit cards, as you can be hit with huge fees if you miss payments, which will later affect your credit score. This can have an impact on your ability to buy a house or apply for a loan in the future. If you’re in debt and you need help, contact The National Debt Line for free.
5. Sign up to mailing lists that will help you save the pennies
There are all sorts of organisations offering free advice and tips on how to save money and nab a bargain. A good place to start is Money Saving Expert. Sign up for their weekly emails full of vouchers, tips and tricks for how to cut down your bills. Check out browser extensions like Honey or Piggy that alert you with vouchers when you’re shopping online. Sign up to Airtime Rewards to save money on your phone bill when you shop online. Shop through Quidco or Top Cashback to get cashback for shopping online.
6. Replace things you pay for, for free things!
There’s so much good free or seriously cheap stuff out there, it pays to get savvy - from exercise videos, recipes to online classes. A number of resources like The Skills Toolkit and Future Learn offer free online courses in a wide range of subjects if you fancy learning something new. Get into the habit of shopping second hand on apps like Depop, Thrift+, Shpock, Ebay, and Facebook marketplace. Sign up to alerts from Freecycle to find out what people are giving away for free near you. Olio is a food-waste app that allows you to rescue delicious free food from people nearby who are throwing it out. Too Good to Go is another food waste app where you can pay seriously discount prices for restaurant food.
7. Get out into nature
Spending time outdoors is good for your mental health, and it’s free. Mix up your weekly routine and get outside into green spaces, instead of always meeting friends in cafes, restaurants or pubs. Look for parks, public gardens, museums, and National Trust free open spaces. Take a look at the Mental Health Foundation’s Thriving With Nature guide for inspiration on how to get the most out of your local green spaces.
8. Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude can lower stress levels, increase feelings of happiness, and help you sleep better. It also affects how materialistic we’re feeling, and makes us less likely to spend money on things we don’t need. Each day, write down one or two things that you’re grateful for from that day, like your health, your family or your friends. This can help you to recognise and appreciate what you have, and after a few days it can start to reshape how you feel about things. After all, the most valuable things in life are things we can’t buy.
9. Be gambling aware
Half of young people aged 18-24 have gambled. Gambling can feel innocent and fun, but it can also start you on a dangerous path into debt you’ll struggle to get out of. Free bets are designed to lure you in, and it’s really easy to get addicted without realizing it. If gambling problems are affecting you or a friend, you can contact GamCare for free and confidential advice.
10. Think about your future
If you’re involved in some kind of fraudulent or criminal activity for financial gain, be aware that just because you’re getting what you need now, doesn’t mean the consequences won’t catch up with you later down the line. Whatever your circumstances may be now, they won’t be forever. Talk to someone you trust about changing your path. Take a look at advice from The Mix about money muling, and advice from the NSPCC about exploitation.
You can access advice and support from:
- the Moneyhelper website (formally the Money Advice Service) - tools to help you budget and manage your money on a low income
- National Debtline - they have a free webchat where you can talk to someone if you’re worried about any money you owe
- Princes Trust have some good resources and help
- My Bnk - youth-oriented money advice
- Thirteen group
- NHS - The NHS offers some good advice on how to cope with financial worries
- Martin Lewis’s guide to mental health and debt
- Mental health and money advice
- Christians Against Poverty offer free resources and support
- If you need urgent help with your mental health you can call the Samaritans on 116 123