Reducing financial stress for healthcare workers, a guide
As a health or allied care professional, have you felt the pinch of financial stress? It may come from worry over losing hours or income, stressing over bills, or overspending to pass the time. Financial stress can lead to poor mental health — a recent survey found that 52% of Australian healthcare workers are worried about their finances, according to the Black Dog Institute.
This can manifest in anxiety or depression. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, feeling angry or fearful, mood swings, tiredness, aches and pains, loss of appetite, lower libido, and social withdrawal. It can also lead to drug or alcohol addiction as well as self-harm.
If you are experiencing financial stress, there are strategies you can use to reduce it and get back on track. Here are some ways to alleviate money worries — they won’t turn things around straight away, but every little bit gets you closer to being stress free.
Talk about it
Money stress is hard to own up to — but you aren’t alone (as the Black Dog Institute says). Opening up about your fears by writing them down, talking to a trusted person, or seeing a financial counsellor can help deal with the emotional stress. If you need help talking with your partner, you can contact Relationships Australia for help.
We’ve said in these pages how technology can combat workplace stress — it can also help you fight financial stress. By using your NetBanking app supplied by your bank or credit union, it can assist you with tracking your expenses. It can show you your income and where it all goes each month (or fortnight.) Create categories (or teach it to track) transport, mortgage/rent, groceries, utilities, leisure, meals, education, debt repayments, and other luxuries. Analyse where all your money goes, and set a budget to give you greater peace of mind.
Are there ways you can temporarily cut your expenses?
There are always savings to be had if you haven’t shopped around for a while. Use online comparison sites to find cheaper insurance premiums, energy retailers, phone plans, internet plans, and so on. Before you buy new things, take a moment to consider if it will improve your life or just cause you more stress down the line. Spending less can help you feel more in control. You don’t have to forgo every little luxury: consider a clothes swap, puzzle, or game trade with friends.
One simple method is this: If you can’t afford to buy it with your savings twice over without stressing about it, don’t put it on the credit card. If you don’t pay off the debt within the interest-free period, a $50 purchase could turn into $70 when all the fees and interest is added on top.
Refinancing mortgages and loans
With interest rates being as low as they’re ever likely to go, now is the time to refinance your mortgage — and even your car loan. Savvy Managing Director Bill Tsouvalas says that healthcare workers can refinance their car loans to land a lower interest rate and cheaper repayments. “Just like refinancing your mortgage, you can actually refinance your car loan,” he says. “Approaching a car loan broker is your best bet, as they can find a lender that will help you refinance onto a loan that’s cheaper overall, saving you money, and saving you stress. If you’ve just entered into a car loan in the last year or so, you may have to wait a little before you can refinance. The same goes for your mortgage.”
If you want to refinance your mortgage, it’s worth going to your bank first to give them the first right of refusal. “If your bank doesn’t come to the table with savings or features such as offset accounts, take your business elsewhere — it’s your right to do so. Seeking advice from a lender could save you thousands in interest and/or give you more money in your pocket by reducing your repayments.”
If you have multiple credit card debts and small loans hanging over your head, you should consider debt consolidation. If you are refinancing your mortgage, there are methods to pay off all your debts in one shot and add the balance to your mortgage. “This is an easy way, but will attract more in interest than going out and applying for a five-year personal loan,” Tsouvalas says.
“A personal loan for a smaller amount, say $7000, at 9% p.a. for five years will end up cheaper than adding the same amount to your home loan, which can blow out to 20 years or more.” By paying it off using the personal loan Bill describes, you’d only pay $1719 in interest and have the entire debt paid off within the five-year term.
If debt is getting you down, don’t be afraid — get help
Whether it’s financial counselling, refinancing, consolidation, or budgeting, there is help out there. HealthDirect has a wealth of resources when it comes to financial stress and mental wellbeing. Talk to a financial professional before making any major credit decision.
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