Fact: financial stress is bad for your mental and physical health and according to the American Psychological Association can cause major health problems. It can lower your self esteem, affect relationships, reduce productivity and eventually lead to financial depression.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has revealed that 47% of young Malaysians youth already have high credit card debt with many of them having already taken personal loans to help cover what they owe. With higher living costs and life expectancies, the financial stress millennials face today is much higher than the previous generation. This is one of the main causes of the deterioration of their mental health today.
Many working adults live paycheck to paycheck and wonder how they’re going to survive once all their bills are paid and necessities bought. This is a vicious cycle that can be broken by following a few simple rules.
Keep the receipts
Those stacks of receipts will definitely remind you of how much damage your bank account has suffered. It will stress you out but facing it and being aware of where your hard-earned money goes is the first step towards controlling tour spending. Review your expenditures regularly and acknowledge where every cent has gone and you’ll become more mindful. This will also help you plan your future monthly budgets. Acknowledging poor financial decisions can ease financial remorse in the future.
Make it a habit to devise a monthly or weekly budget to suit your financial situation. Divide your spending into categories, e.g. utilities, transport, rent, entertainment, groceries, eating out. Keep the receipts and track your spending to see if you’re within your budget or over spending. This will help navigate your budget the following month. There are many ways to help you keep track of your spending but sometimes the easiest way is the best. The 50/30/20 method is simple – 50% of your income goes to your needs (necessary for daily life), 30% to wants (shopping, entertainment) and 20% towards your saving goals.
Set a realistic goal
Be real when setting financial goals. Don’t go overboard and be too strict with yourself by cutting down on eating healthily, for example. Restricting your spending too severely can lead to suddenly splurging to reward yourself and spending whatever you saved!
Let your friends know about your financial limits
Birthday dinner, farewell lunch, sharing a gift – there are so many occasions to celebrate and things to buy. Be honest with yourself and your friends. Let them know if you’re on a budget that month, learn how to say no to peer pressure and know that you can always suggest a more affordable alternative. This is a good way to see who your real friends are, and remember that a good night out is due to the excellent company and not how much you spend.
Take a step backThat perfect dress, those fantastic gold hoops or that new model phone – take a step back and ask yourself if you really need it. Don’t practise impulse buying and get something that will cause financial remorse. Practise the ‘if I can’t stop thinking about it, then buy it’ approach, and chances you won’t be thinking about it the day after. Identify and reflect on all your purchases to avoid buying something you don’t need or want in the long run.
Financial wellness is just as important as your physical and mental health. Looking after your finances is a form of self-care, which is an integral part of life. Take control of your finances and not the other way round! Remember that feeling of looking at a credit card bill that you know you can’t pay or not having enough cash to last the month, and that should remind you to live within your means.