Finding balance in tough times

2020 has been a very difficult year for most people. The loss of livelihoods as many companies were either forced to scale down or shutdown has been and continues to devastate so many. To compound the issue is the upcoming December holidays where many people will be spending time with family and will invariably spend more money than usual.

Having a regular income and still not being able to afford all the things you need and/or want is difficult enough. Not having an income at all while your expenses mount is distressing. Particularly during what is supposed to be a joyous holiday season. It is, therefore, crucial to be honest with yourself and those close to you about your finances. You must have frank discussions with those close to you about what you can afford and what your limitations are. Employment is not guaranteed in these uncertain times which means we all must pay particular attention to how we spend our money now and especially over the festive season to avoid financial catastrophes in the future.

A very important factor to consider during this time is your psychological wellbeing.  Going through financial difficulty can and has been proven to have disastrous effects on your mental wellness. Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, unhealthy coping behaviours such as overeating, alcohol and drug abuse are typical effects of financial strain. That is why it is vital to be honest about your financial situation.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to get you through the holiday season with less stress:

  • Talk. Get into the habit of talking about money. The good, the bad and the ugly. Get your family together and have an honest conversation about the days and weeks to come and what is possible given your and everyone’s financial situation. Honesty is key when doing so to keep everyone in the loop and to eliminate any unnecessary expectations that could lead to disappointment, confrontation, or stress
  • Create a budget for yourself and for your family. Get everyone involved so that everyone buys into the process and the final numbers. Work out upfront what you can afford to spend. A second step is to decide what you will be spending that money on and stick to it
  • Look for activities that you can do together as a family which require little or no money at all. Things like taking walks, playing board and card games are a great example. These are inexpensive activities and can keep everyone entertained for hours.
  • Do not get tempted to consider quick fixes. There are many unscrupulous individuals masquerading as financial professionals who are preying on desperate and unsuspecting individuals who need money. Do not fall into the trap of getting into exorbitant debt or committing your hard-earned money to structures you do not understand. Often-times, the effects of such actions are far worse than having no money
  • Speak to a professional. If you feel that you are not coping or just need a sounding board regarding your situation. Help is always at hand, but you need to acknowledge that you need it. And it does not have to cost you a lot of money. The internet is a great resource so do your homework.

As a financial planner, I get to encounter people from all walks with many different financial situations. What is clear with all these interactions is that people want the best for themselves and for the people close to them and do not always know the best ways to go about it. Do not suffer in silence. Do not think you are the only one going through difficulty. That alone should help to put things in perspective and make the load lighter.

Gugu Sidaki®  Wealth Creed