Fear or Focus

In the current unprecedented times we are living it is understandable that fears and anxieties are at an all time high. You may be worrying about loved ones, their health, your health and keeping the kids schooled / entertained not to mention the financial implications. With millions of people furloughed this will have different implications whether you are employed, self employed or temporary workers and fears around money are heightened. 

The thing about fear is that it continually rolls around your head making it hard to think rationally or make clear decisions and if not dealt with can lead to stress, sleepless nights and taking it out on your family. One method of dealing with this that has been recognised by experts for years is writing things down,  it can then go from a permanently repeating thought into the start of an action plan – even if you don’t know the answers right now just taking the first step acknowledges the problem and starts to relieve the pressure in your head. 

One tactic that I learnt some time ago is to take a piece of paper and just write at the top “what am I scared of – what’s worrying me? ” It sounds simple I know but it goes from a jumble of thoughts to a focus – now normally this would only be maybe one or 2 things but right now there may be many more things racing around your head so just get them all down.  

Then go through each one and answer honestly do I have any control over this? Write next to each one I can control or I can’t control.  Again, this is simple but in the act of writing it down when your mind turns to these worries again you will know that you have no control over it and worrying about it will not change anything.  

The next is to take positive action with the things you do have control over, now although I cannot help with each person’s individual worries the one thing I can help with and the immediate pressing concern for most people right now is finances. 

Dealing with finances can initially seem overwhelming, particularly if you’ve never really done it before – if this seems too big and scares you – just start off simple with 2 headings, money coming in and money going out.  ( I have template I can send to anyone that wants it)

Everyone’s income will now be different due to the Coronavirus, for employed staff that have been furloughed your income will be 80%. For self employed people it is very different and depending on how you are self employed there are different options to claim, if you are not sure what you are entitled to  – information on what you are entitled to can be found at  https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus  (I have not listed them all here as it is a little complex) If you are still unsure about what to claim drop me a line at julie@redsquirrelfinancial.co.uk and I will be happy to help.

Once you know what your income is you can start eliminating the outgoings that are worrying you, write down every single outgoing that you have – I find it easiest to start with the largest first ie: mortgage then working my way down through any loans, credit cards, council tax, gas and electric  outgoings that are fixed and must be paid – before moving on to any outgoings that you can change.  

Initially it was well publicised about having a 3 month Mortgage break, however did you know that most lenders are also now giving 3 months break on credit cards and loans? Interest will still be accrued, however taking the break will give you immediate peace of mind and the interest can be paid back later when you are more stable.  To apply for each break go to your lenders website or call your normal customer services number.  Again, stay calm and if the thought of contacting them all at once overwhelms you, focus on dealing with them one at a time and take breaks in between.   The main thing is remaining focused and taking positive steps.

Once you have dealt with all the large outgoings you can compare against your income and start to see the picture of where you stand and if any further cutbacks or actions need to be taken.  This is where you need to start to look at your lifestyle outgoings – other direct debits that you have by choice, obviously right now a lot of normal outgoings such as eating out, petrol, will no longer apply  ( and you may even find you have more money because of this) not to make light of the situation but right now a lot of peoples outgoings will look like this !!

So this will leave you with any other direct debits, list them all out and if your outgoings still exceed the income coming in this is where you need to make some hard decisions as what is most important to you right now and what could be temporarily stopped or suspended ( we WILL come out of Coronavirus and life will be normal again ) or you can take this opportunity to look around for better deals on mobile phone, tv subscriptions etc.

Once you have completed your breakdown on incomes and outgoings, even if it doesn’t add up in the way you would like, you should have a clear focus of where you are right now, for some this may mean that this is a worry off their mind and can focus on other issues, for others you may need to take one step further and look for opportunities, you may be furloughed in one area but can you get temporary work in an essential service ? (this is allowed) If you are unable to work can another family member who can work contribute ( young adults no longer at University for example). If you have savings elsewhere can these be used temporarily and replaced after the crisis. These are all suggestions and each persons circumstances will be different. 

Finally, there is a lot of information out there and I have not covered every scenario, each person / family is unique and will be facing different problems, so this is just a guide to help you focus on what steps you can take to reduce any fear / anxiety you may be feeling,  If you still feel unsure and want more specific help and advice please feel free to email me at julie@redsquirrelfinancial.co.uk. I am a trained Financial Coach, trained under the UK’s leading Financial Coach Simonne Gnesson and am currently offering my services for free to help with this crisis.

Julie Barnes

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