Money is as subjective as it is objective and no more so than where family finances are concerned. Although many of us would agree it is simply a commodity, it can intrinsically drive our emotions by the way that it facilitates experiences in life that we would wish to aspire to, igniting the pleasure sensors within us. For many there is an operant conditioning connected to the mighty dollar too whereby they operate on the environment in order to secure the positive reinforcement, as they see it, of extra wealth.
In times of austerity, therefore, when many families are struggling to make ends meet, the stress of too little income can be a large strain. It can also been seen almost as a punishment when long hours are put in and the outcome is less than would be expected leading to a downwards spiral of discontent. Such external forces, which can manipulate the amount of income available to families, add to this pressure for often such forces, such as hard-hitting budgets, rising unemployment figures and increases in cost of living compound the problem. When these factors overwhelm they can leave people feeling powerless to control their own destinies, effectively leaving them to feel that their fate is in someone else’s hands. In the case of families the ramifications of this can erode family unity and add pressures which can lead to the break-up of homes if left unchecked.
If debt is added into the equation at this juncture, the analogy of sink or swim can be overpowering and as such today many will wake up, in light of yesterday’s budget announcements, to feel that they are sinking into a mire of financial crisis with no light at the end of the tunnel . Despite the forecasts for growth and development, many will hone in on the short term and the reality of the pressures of the austere economy will once again not only hit them in the pocket but also in the heart and in the mind.
What then can be done to help such individuals who are laden with increasing financial burdens and where can they turn for help?
The first thing to face up to in all things financial is the actual realisation of any predicament. Thinking that the matter will go away will not help. Where debt exists, especially where it is becoming harder and harder to cope, dealing with the problem straight away is critical. Ignoring debt makes it worse! The following five point plan provides an action plan to help, although critically this is only a suggestion and should not be relied upon. It is always wise to get independent advise from organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau or the National Debt Helpline.
1. First make a list of all your debts, that is everything you owe however large or small. Don’t leave anything out!
2. Prioritize your debts. This may not be in order of amount outstanding but moreso the debts that will have the biggest impact on you, for instance those that may see you homeless, without a service or even in prison over as examples.
3. Work out a budget. This needs to have all your incomings on and all your outgoings. In the ideal world the incomings total to more than the outgoings. If the reverse is true then again urgent adjustments are needed and help to do these may need to be procured. Again the citizens advice bureau or National Debt Helpline can help with personal budgets but over everything it is very important to be honest with yourself and realistic.
4. Get advice on the different debt management strategies available.
5. Finally talk to your creditors – these are the people you owe money to. Having secured the advice you need from independent advisors such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or National Debt Helpline.
Additional organisations which can help in the UK are Consumer Credit Counselling Service (0800 138 1111), Debt Support Trust (0800 085 0226), Debt Advice Foundation (0800 043 40 50), National Debtline (0808 808 4000).
For a helpful independent financial management company, Citrus Financial Management Ltd can advise further. They can be found on-line at www.citrusfinancial.co.uk or on facebook at www.facebook.co.uk/citrusfinancial