The pressure and uncertainty of financial overwhelm is all-consuming. We become unable to stop our mind and body long enough to get a true picture of where we currently stand. Especially, when we are not willing or able to acknowledge the true magnitude of our financial position, and what it means for us now and into the future.
I have experienced financial overwhelm.
When I was in the thick of it, I was consumed with worries about what others would think if they found out that I was living above my means and in debt up to my eyeballs. At the time, it was easier to pretend everything was ok, while self-medicating to avoid facing the reality of my situation. Telling myself all will be better when I finally get money and pay the blah blah blah. This worked for a while – kind of… until the next time I was strapped for cash, wondering how I was going to pay rent or feed myself, let alone pay down my debt. And so… the cycle continued. Until one day I realised, ‘If nothing changed, nothing would change’. I was no longer interested in just surviving life, I wanted to LIVE! This article is designed to help you identify the tell-tale signs of financial overwhelm and provide some of my personal strategies in how to deal with it.
Before we deep dive into it, let me say this
You are where you are and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with your situation (aside from financially, but that can always be sorted out), nor are you a bad person. Even if you made some questionable choices in the past, that is ok! Be kind to yourself. None of us are perfect, we are here to live and learn, so instead of beating yourself up about what you should have done differently. Only when you can truly accept what is, will you be able to authentically take the steps required to move forward.
How do I know if I am in financial overwhelm?
If you relate to two or more of the below points, chances are you not only feeling the pinch but are likely in overwhelm or possibly even suffering from financial distress.
- Do you worry that if an unexpected expense comes up, you will not have the funds available to sort it out and be able to feed and house yourself or your family?
- Are you having to increase your reliance on Credit Cards, Pay Day Loans or Buy Now Pay Later schemes, that you only seem to pay the interest or fees on?
- Do you feel trapped in a job, business, relationship, or house because you are worried if you leave you won’t be able to support yourself financially and pay your debts?
- Are you constantly worried about money, feeling anxious and/or depressed about your life and future?
- How is your health and well-being? Are you have trouble sleeping, get headaches, feeling tired and lethargic, and are having unhealthy thoughts around failure and feelings of helplessness?
- Are you arguing with loved ones about money and withdrawing emotionally from people you care about? Never going out (because you can’t afford it) and subconsciously pushing away your nearest and dearest in case they find out about?
- Are you behind on your rent, worried about being evicted, not able to pay bill, credit card or loan repayments?
- Are you ignoring calls from numbers you don’t recognise or are you not opening letters in case a debt collector is chasing money you don’t have?
- Are you unable to see a clear pathway forward financially?
How do I reduce financial overwhelm?
In my experience (and I have had a lot) the hardest step to take when you are in financial overwhelm or in debt distress is:
To acknowledge and face the fact, that ‘If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes’.
Get clear on your numbers
Get clear on your numbers – know how much you have coming in each month and how much have you need each month is vital. If you don’t know your current financial position, you can’t take the next steps. Said in another way, if you want to go on a trip, you need to know where you are starting your journey. If you don’t, how can you book flights or accommodation? So, when you collate your income and expenses, be sure to include everything you buy not only weekly/fortnightly/monthly but annually. Include expenses like rego, insurance, birthday gifts even BBQ Gas. This is the only true way you can get the true picture of how much you have and how much you need.
Check your bank statements
Go through your bank statements, make sure you covered off on all your costs, while you are there – review and cancel any subscriptions you no longer need or use.
Cap your spending
Allocate a capped amount for each area of your life, like groceries, rent/mortgage, debts, gifts, car expenses, entertainment etc. set yourself up powerfully by tracking and monitor your spending. Make it fun by seeing what hacks you can apply to come in under your capped amount. There are some cool apps that can help you with this. Or you can simply take your money out of the bank in cash and stash it in envelopes, labelled for each expense.
Stop using your credit cards
Consciously decide to stop using your credit cards – cut them up and put a plan in place to pay them down ASAP. When you do the numbers, you will be blown away how much paying $100 extra a month can save you in time and money. On a $15k Credit card with 20% interest paying an extra $100 a month will save you 14 years and close to $35k.
Understand your debt
Know what your debts are costing (in interest, fees and charges) and work out how long it will take you to pay them down. I promise you once you get present to the numbers, aside from making you feel sick, I guarantee it will motivate you to get rid of those slippery little suckers ASAP!
It is ok to say “NO!” to going out to, events, get togethers, etc. if you don’t have the cash to do so! Invite people to your place, ask everyone to bring a plate, a bottle and a board game. This is not only fun and out of the ordinary, but it can also save you loads of money.
What if I am still in financial overwhelm and can’t make ends meet?
First and most importantly… You are NOT ALONE! You don’t have to struggle unnecessarily, especially if you are carrying an undesirable debt load. There are strategies and solutions available to you that the creditors will never tell you about because they are not allowed to. At Debt Angel Solutions, we deal with people in financial distress all day every day. We see first-hand people desperately trying to salvage a futile situation, be it their relationship, house, job, or business. If you were able to step back and remove the financial pressure, you will be able to see the clear pathway forward, or realise it isn’t salvageable and cut your losses and move on. I know this was the case for me when I was managing a venue. I had poured so much of my blood, sweat and tears into the venue and was only just managing to tread water. I was hoping that the next event would be the one that got me back on track. Yet event after event didn’t bring with it the financial remuneration I desperately needed to salvage my business and eventually I had to let go of what I had created as it was no longer viable, nor had it been for a long time. “Letting go was hard. Yet on reflection the best thing I could have done.” I see this at Debt Angels all the time. People’s relationships are often glued together with money issues, they stay stuck and miserable in relationships or jobs as they are fearful that if they leave they will have no money survive. The irony is that when we get their debts under control, they are free to choose if they really want to be where they are. Often with their newfound financial freedom, they are choose to move on and LIVE the rest of their life, rather than simply survive. We seem to think we need to have it all together. We try to be the best parent, friend, worker and child at all times. I call BullS*#T on that. We are only human. We have things that keep us trapped, things that we don’t feel we have choice over. Yet when the financial burden lifts, we are not only free to move forward, but we also experience a massive sense of relief and excitement. For the first time in a long time, we see a whole new world of possibilities available to us.
Reducing financial overwhelm: Final words
Remember… We only have one life; this is yours! Pretending all is ok when it really isn’t, is like taking the poison and waiting for someone else to die. So, if you have had enough of living week to week and you can’t see how you will ever break free from debt or if feel like you are not living your true purpose because you are too busy trying to survive life, I invite you to reach out and have a chat. It would be my pleasure to not only offer you an alternative perspective but discuss strategies and solutions to help you turn your situation around faster than you ever thought possible.
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