According to a survey of 14 000 people by Debt Busters last year, a significant majority of South Africans are feeling financial stress. It found that 70% of us are stressed about money in some way.
More than half of the participants said that they are worried about running out of money before the end of the month. And 36% said they were struggling to pay off debts.
This highlights just how widespread concerns about finances are. Most of us are feeling some level of stress in this area of our lives.
The survey also found that this has wide-reaching impacts. Of those who responded that they are feeling financial pressure, 94% said that this was impacting their home life, 77% said it had an impact on their work life, and 76% reported that it was affecting their health.
Unfortunately, even though many people recognise how much of a toll this is taking on them, it can feel too overwhelming to address it. For a lot of us, asking for help with our finances raises feelings of shame and fear.
If we are unable to pay off debts or if we aren’t making ends meet, it is natural to feel that this is because there is something wrong with us. That makes it hard for us to take steps to address it.
However, it is important to realise, first of all, that if you are stressed about money you are far from alone. In fact, the significant majority of South Africans are in the same boat. So, it’s not a reflection on you personally.
Secondly, there are many ways to get help, from debt counselling, to financial coaching, to financial planning. And research suggests that once you do speak to someone about the stress you are feeling, it brings an enormous sense of relief.
But some people find even that too daunting. Speaking to a stranger about your money, even if they are a professional, makes many people very uncomfortable.
The first person you open up to doesn’t necessarily need to be someone who can actually help you. It may just be a friend or loved one who can offer a sympathetic ear. As a starting point, just telling someone how you are feeling and what is causing your stress can bring some comfort.
This can also help you to make sense of what you are facing, put things in perspective, and help you to define exactly where your challenges lie. For some people, this is enough to help them to realise that their problems aren’t insurmountable and that they can find a way to tackle them.
It can also be a way to get your thoughts in order before you approach a professional, so that you know exactly what you need help with, and what questions you want to ask.
Reaching out is not a sign of weakness. It is actually an indication that you are aware enough to recognise what is causing you stress, and that you have the courage to want to address it.
If you are feeling under financial pressure, speak to a professional.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.