Looking After Your Mental Health When You Have Money Worries

It's OK to talk about money and mental health. 

Lots of people will be feeling worried, anxious or stressed about the cost of living crisis and the impact of this on their day-to-day lives. You might feel like worrying about money is taking up a lot or all of your time and you can't focus on other things. If you're worried, you're not alone and there is help and support available. 

It's okay to talk about money and mental health

What's the link between money and mental health?

Money worries can make you feel anxious and impact your mental health. Poor mental health can also impact your ability to manage your money. Both of these are very normal reactions to stressful and/or worrying situations. Sometimes this is called a cycle, where worrying about money leads to poorer mental health which can make it difficult to manage your money. 

Cycle of Poor mental health means managing  money is harder which leads to Worrying about  money makes my mental health worse

If your mental health is impacting your ability to manage your money, these are some of the things you might experience:

  • you might have no or low motivation to manage your money if you're feeling low or depressed
  • you might spend lots of money because it might make you feel better for a little while 
  • your income might be impacted if your mental health is impacting your job and you have to take time off unpaid
  • you might feel overwhelmed and not know where to start
  • you might avoid doing things, such as opening a bill, because it makes you anxious. This can lead to unpaid bills or not knowing how much money is going in and out of your bank account, which could cause debt to increase. 

What about the other way around - what are some of the ways money worries might impact your mental health? Some examples are:

  • worrying about money might impact your sleep, you might find it harder to get to sleep for example or wake up lots during the night
  • you might not be able to afford the things that help you stay well and support your mental health, like food, housing, bills, therapy or taking part in your hobbies
  • money worries might impact your social life, and you might not be able to do things friends are doing because you can't afford it or you might worry about not having the right things to fit in, so you avoid going out. This can lead to you feeling lonely and isolated
  • you might find yourself catastrophising, this is where you think of the worse possible thing that could happen which isn't rational or likely to happen.
Making a plan

Making a plan

Things can feel overwhelming because they are outside of your control. This is true for the cost of living crisis, as you don't have control over energy prices, inflation and interest rates among other things. Taking things one step at a time is a good start and it can help to break things down into more manageable tasks. We've gathered some steps you might want to consider to help you start making a plan below. 

1. Create a budget 

This can seem like a scary task, but it's an important first step to help you understand what money you have coming in and what's going out. Young Scot has lots of information on budgeting and there are tools online that can help you write your budget, like the Budget Planner from Money Helper.

If it feels too overwhelming, break it down into a smaller task, like just looking at your expenses (or outgoings) over a day rather than looking at a whole week or month. 

You might want to build managing your money into your weekly or daily routine to help you stay on top of things, setting tasks for you to do each time. Planning a relaxing or rewarding activity to do afterwards can help support your mental health, whether it's watching your favourite TV show, doing some meditation or playing a game. 

2. Is there extra support you can get?

There is support available both for help with your finances through things like benefits and grants, but also practical help on websites and through helplines and services like those offered by Money Helper and Citizen's Advice Scotland. 

You might find the following articles helpful:

If you're able to get additional financial support, you can then take this into account when you're making your budget. 

3. Can you reduce any of your bills?

One way to help your budget is to see if there is anything you can do to reduce your bills. 

You may have various different bills that you can take a look at to see if there are savings you can make, for example:

  • Council tax - often your council tax bill is paid over ten months, but you can ask to pay it over 12 months. While this doesn't reduce your overall bill, it helps to spread the cost. This year, the government is also giving everyone in council tax bands A-D a £150 rebate. You might also get discounts on your council tax if:
    • you're the only adult in your home (you can save 25%)
    • you or someone you live with is disabled
    • you're a student and live alone or share the rent with other students (if you live in halls of residence you don't pay council tax)

You can use the Council Tax Reduction tool by Citizen's Advice Scotland to find out if you can save any money. 

  • Energy bills - take a look at our energy article for more information and ideas on how you can save money on your energy bills and the different grants and support available. 
  • In Scotland you don't pay for water bills, instead, it's included in your council tax. So you can't save money on the bill because it's a fixed cost, but you can save money on heating water and saving water is also good for the environment. This includes things like filling the kettle with only the water you need, taking shorter showers and only using your washing machine when you have a full load. Visit the Scottish Water website for more information on saving water.
  • Mobile phone bills - if you're coming to the end of your contract or are out of contract, see if there are savings that you can make. When you're looking for new deals check your current usage and make sure your new contract takes into account this usage, a lot of people pay for more data than they need. Remember to take a look at Pay as You Go options too and use tools such as Money Saving Experts Cheap Mobile Finder.
  • Broadband and internet bills - shopping around for broadband and phone deals can help you save money. According to Which, broadband customers who switched saved an average of £48 a year. Make use of comparison websites to compare deals, take a look at customer satisfaction scores and be aware of comparison websites that nudge you towards certain deals, they may receive money if you go with that provider and it might not be the best deal for you. Find out more about saving money on these bills on the Money Helper website.

4. Is there support in your local community?

There might be things that are happening in your local community that can help you during the cost crisis. Some things that might be happening or you might want to keep an eye out for:

  • local cafes offering leftover food to community fridges and food banks. Find your nearest food bank on the Trussell Trust website
  • clothes, goods or services swaps for other clothes, goods or services
  • sharing commutes to work or school. You could see if friends or family would like to share commutes to help cut the cost. 

Take a look at things like local Facebook Groups, on Gumtree and at your local library (find your local library) for events and activities that might be happening in your local area. You can also take a look at your local Young Scot page, to see if local information has been added. 

Managing money tips

Managing money tips

You might have started to get an idea of how you can plan your money and what support is available to you. But there are other actions you can take to help you manage your money and mental health. 

Pay off debt, if you can 

If you have debt, it's important to stay on top of it and not let it get out of control. If you're not sure where to start or need help, contact the National Debt Line which gives free and impartial advice and is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm.

Organisations like StepChange have a range of tools and services to help you manage any debt. They have a debt management plan tool which can help you manage your debts and pay them off at a more affordable rate by making reduced monthly payments.

Know your spending triggers

You might spend money when you feel a certain way, and knowing what makes you want to spend your hard-earned cash is an important step in helping you stop spending money unnecessarily.

It could be a social media advert, feeling bored or lonely or it could be a specific place like walking past your favourite restaurant. Spending triggers are different for everyone. Understanding what yours are means you can take action to remove those triggers or distract yourself when you feel a certain way. 

Remove temptation 

If you know that certain brands or accounts on social media encourage you to spend your money, it might be time to take some action to remove the temptation. This could include:

  • unsubscribing from e-mail updates 
  • unfollowing accounts on social media 
  • deleting apps (or turning off notifications). 

Upskill

Learning how to make things and/or repair them when they are broken can save you money. Whether it's getting crafty and creating homemade presents for pals, or looking on YouTube for how to fix something. There are lots of ways to save money by thinking outside of the box and learning new skills. 

Also, remember to read those instructions! Things like overloading the washing machine or putting something on a too hotter wash can mean you end up spending money you didn't need to. 

Share your worries

Share your worries

It's really important to get support and share how you're feeling with other people. That might be talking to a family member, friend, youth worker, teacher or other trusted adult. There are also specialist organisations that you can speak to over the phone, by email, web chat or on WhatsApp who can provide advice and information about your situation. 

Take a look at our cost crisis helplines page for a list of different organisations and the support they can provide.

More information and resources

There are lots more resources that you might find useful:

For more information about the cost crisis, and further support visit our 'Coping with the Cost Crisis' page.