Being in debt can be completely consuming. It can affect your mental and physical health as well as impact your relationships and affect your family members too.
There are practical skills and tools that we all can learn to become better stewards of our money such as creating a budget, piggy banking etc. But there are three other things we would strongly recommend to all of us in relation to money, in particular if you are struggling.
Break the silence
Christmas was over a month ago, and it is very likely that many did not have a meaningful conversation around money with friends, family members or partners even though we are all impacted by the current cost-of-living crisis. Too often people think it is inappropriate to talk about money, are afraid of a conflict or terrified to deal with the reality of their finances.
A lot of our clients share that for too long they tried to carry their financial responsibilities and issues on their own and that it was a relief for them when they started to share their issues with us.
Our first advice is that you try to find someone you trust and start to share your thoughts and emotions around your finances. We are aware that not everyone has a person in their life that they feel they can trust. Fortunately, there are charities like ours and churches that can provide the support you need.
Where possible, we recommend that you’re open and honest with your loved ones about your financial situation. However, talking about money can sometimes bring conflict into a relationship, especially if you’ve not previously talked about your issues with your family, partner, or children. It is important for children to learn how parents deal with their finances. The emotions (guilt, confusion and even shame) will impact the interactions and it is always better for the others to know what is going on.
It is good for all of us to get help in growing our skills in managing our finances so that we can make informed decision, but this is even more critical if you are struggling with debts.
In our experiences the best is if you contact us or a similar charity as soon as you have a question or issue so that you can access free and confidential advice. The goal is that you receive advice in a way so that you can make informed decisions and get support with difficult issues (for example bailiffs, benefits, rent arrears). In addition, you might learn about further life changing support and opportunities that are available to you.
Grow in self-awareness
Money is one of the few things that will always be part of our lives and we must acknowledge that it impacts our emotions and relationships. The question is what role we will give money to play in our lives. Therefore, it is important to grow in our self-awareness around money. One step is to reflect about what role money played in our upbringing and how that is still impacting us today.
We encourage everyone to honestly reflect on a regular basis what their spending reveals in relation to their habits, values, priorities and who they are. It might be that it reveals bad habits or other issues and then we advise strongly to get support with these issues. For families and couples, it is good to reflect on this together and help each other to get the priorities right.
It is one thing to create a budget to ensure that it balances, but equally important is to create a budget and spend/invest the money in a way that reflects your values and priorities.
Aspire to be a good steward
One of the traps with finances is that we compare ourselves with other people and what we don’t have. The key is that we learn to be content with whatever God has entrusted us with and to aspire to be good stewards with our finances, time, and gifts. How can you become a better steward of what God has entrusted you with? Our clients struggle with their finances, but many are amazing parents, sons, daughters, partners, and do amazing things at their workplace or/and for their communities.
Our hope for our clients is that they feel that they are in control of their finances and that their spending is reflecting their values and priorities.
It is true that money matters, but only if it is used for what really matters.
We (Crosslight Advice) are a Christian Charity that is creating a safe space for people of our community to come and share their debt and money struggles. It is our vision to restore dignity and hope for people struggling under the burden of money and debts worries with practical money and debt advice.
“For all the time I was struggling in debt, I couldn’t seem to make my life work. Debt was an anchor that held me down under the water, I was drowning. It’s all very physical. When you clear that anchor, you can swim to the surface and breathe again. This means that other things can happen, life can happen.”
We strongly recommend our Money Course (https://www.themoneycourse.org/), which can be done as a self-led, online or face-to face course.
Stephan Wiedmer, 10/02/2023