Five ways to financially de-stress and find freedom again
CONTENT PROVIDED BY BILL TSOUVALAS, FOUNDER OF SAVVY
If you’re balancing your study commitments, how many hours you can work, and the income from AusStudy, it can often leave you frustrated – especially if big bills such as textbooks or car registration come in. If you feel anxious because of money, you may be feeling financial stress.
Financial stress is a very real situation where people struggle to make ends meet. This might mean trouble sleeping, snapping at loved ones, and other mental health issues. It’s something that can compound study stress – which already doubled over 2020.
Financial stress can manifest by sudden loss of work or hours, a lack of savings, asking for external financial help from charity or family, struggling to keep up with bills or rent/mortgage payments (also called ‘mortgage stress’), selling possessions, being hit hard if a major repair or replacement is required, or a combination of these stressors.
According to Digital Finance Analytics through to June 2021 approximately 39.45% of all families in Australia were experiencing some kind of financial stress.
To help alleviate financial stress, here are five ways to get back on track – financially and mentally.
Set a budget!
We’ve mentioned this before in a previous blog, but creating a budget is your first step towards financial freedom and a great way to de-stress. It provides a routine and certainty around your money. Once you’ve figured out your expenses and income using a budget planner calculator, you can account for each dollar coming in and out – and feel better prepared for when the unexpected happens.
Many small debts? Consider consolidation
One of the big stressors is trying to juggle many different little debts such as credit cards or student loans at once – chipping away bit by bit seems to put you back at square one before long. To knock out all these debts – and budget for it more effectively! – consider taking out a debt consolidation loan. This is a type of personal loan that allows you to pay off (and close) your revolving credit lines (i.e., ones where your payments don’t end up at zero after a time) using a fixed term, fixed-interest loan in manageable payments.
Avoid “buy now, pay later” or payday loans
A pair of new kicks, textbooks, or even a night out are but a click away on “buy now, pay later” apps such as AfterPay or ZipPay – but don’t fall into the trap. These schemes do spread out your costs but use your credit card to take the payments. If you don’t pay off these amounts before the interest free period, you’ll pay interest on every instalment. Payday loans are also trouble – these are high interest (sometimes upward of 40%p.a.) loans with short terms – and can land you in more debt rather than rescuing you from it.
Talk to a financial adviser
Financial advice isn’t for the rich – it’s for everyone who wants to plan ahead and get on top of their finances. (It’s often how rich people get rich in the first place!) Some financial advisers offer discount or even free rates to students to get them on the first steps of the financial ladder – sooner is always better than later! Try looking on your university website student association to find free or discounted student counselling options.
Counselling for mental health issues
Financial stress causes real harm to our mental health. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression due to financial stress, consult your GP for Medicare subsidised or free counselling/psychologist sessions as part of your Mental Health Treatment Plan. You could be eligible for up to 20 Medicare subsidised sessions per year.
UNE offers support to students that are facing financial hardships. The best place to find information about domestic and international student loans is here.
If you are experiencing acute mental stress due to finances there are support services available to you.
Our team at Advocacy and Welfare offers confidential support to students! You can contact us here.
The UNE Student Success Wellbeing Centre also has confidential counselling for students, you can find them here.
Contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 131 114.