How to talk to yourself about money.

As 2024 gets underway, there’s lots going on that might make you feel a little bit less financially secure. The combination of festive spending and spaces between paychecks can make the first months of the year feel tough. In fact, according to National Debtline, 47% of Brits are heading into 2024 with concerns about money. 

But having money worries on your mind can really weigh on you at any time of the year. Being able to have an open conversation with your loved ones is important – but so is being able to speak to yourself about money. 

Working towards having healthy thoughts about money is a form of financial self-care, and one we’re big on supporting here at Lowell. 

Are you feeling worried about money?

We conducted a poll to see how people in the UK feel about money, and the results reveal that there is plenty of concern and anxiety around finance. 

3 in 10 people feel worried about checking their bank account , and research from Money Advice Trust suggests that 13% of Brits avoid checking their emails  in case of money news. 
Surveys we’ve run in the past suggest that 32%  of people feel uncomfortable talking about money. 41% of people don't know where to turn to for financial support , and being able to talk about your problems and ask for help is really important. 

Starting the conversation with yourself can be a good way to start working towards feeling more comfortable with those discussions. 

How do Brits feel when it comes to talking about money?

Our most recent survey revealed that many people feel anxious, stressed, or ashamed about money - 25% of the people we spoke to reported feeling that way. But it’s not all bad news, as 19.5% of survey respondents felt empowered or in control.

It might feel like a difficult goal to feel in control, especially if you’re in that first group of people. But being more open with yourself about your finances can be the stepping stone you need to feel more empowered by speaking to other people. 

Talking about money can really help to turn negative feelings into more positive emotions. Sharing a problem by saying it out loud as you discuss it with a trusted friend can help you to make sense of your financial situation.

One in ten people avoid opening bills and statements in fear of their financial situation.

21.6% of the people we interviewed said that they’d avoid seeking financial advice from a professional. We understand that it can feel scary to reach out for support sometimes. 

But avoiding money problems, especially from professional sources like debt advisors, debt charities, and financial organisations that could help, can cause more problems than it solves. 

At Lowell, we’ve had customers tell us that they felt nervous to come talk to us about their debt for the first time. If you’re in this position, we understand how you might feel. Ignoring a debt company might seem like a solution, but it’s often not the right solution. 

Speaking to an organisation that offers impartial debt advice, or directly to the company involved with your finances, can be a really important first step.

While we can’t advise you about other debts or finances, if you’re a Lowell customer, there are lots of things we can do to help you to manage your debt as long as you’re keeping in contact with us. 

Budget planning can be a big help.

Other financial actions that people tended to avoid include using a budget plan, with 17.3% of people saying they avoided doing. But in fact, understanding your income and outgoings could help you to manage your money. 

You can use our free budget calculator to get a clearer view of your finances and keep track of exactly where your money is going. 

Setting financial goals and seeking support

People were also less likely to set financial goals, with 11% of our respondents avoiding financial aspirations. Setting long-term goals might seem daunting, but it’s actually a good way of working out your priorities. 

We understand that money can be a stressful topic, and that it can have an impact on your mental health. In fact, 9.2% of Brits we surveyed said they had avoided seeking help for mental health issues related to their finances. If you’re a Lowell customer and you’re feeling like your mental health is being affected by your debt, then please get in touch so we can find a way of working that looks after you.

How to start the conversation around your finances

Talking to yourself about money doesn’t have to be scary or nerve-wracking. It can set you on the road to having healthy financial habits, and reduce the worry and anxiety that you feel about money. 

We’ve pulled together some tips for how to start that conversation, and how to think about money in a slightly different way. 

“What are my long term goals?”

As we mentioned before, setting long-term financial goals can be helpful. It gives you a goal to focus on, and a focus for what you’re trying to achieve. 

Rather than starting with number crunching, why not start with a money journal. No idea what to write about? Write about your current reality and how it feels, a goal you have for your finances, or your latest dreams. Ideally, eventually you won't need to capture your money thoughts so much and can focus on other thoughts and feelings. 

Of course, just as important as the goal itself is the pathway there. As part of your larger goal, setting some short-term markers to achieving them can really help to improve your mental perceptions about money. Having milestones you can check in at gives you a tangible sense of making progress, and gives you something concrete to work towards.

Financial milestones

An example might be clearing your debts – in this case, your milestones might look something like this:

1.    Have an initial conversation with your debtor
2.    Set up a payment plan
3.    Clear 25% of your debt
4.    Check in and see if your payment plan is still working for your finances 
5.    Clear half of your debt 
6.    Plan what you’ll do once you’re debt free
7.    Clear 75% of your debt
8.    Plan a celebration or reward for when you clear your debt 
9.    Make your final payment 

“What is stopping me achieving my financial goals?”

Unfortunately, there can be barriers to achieving your financial goals. This could be anything from existing debts to your health conditions and looking after dependents like family. 

However, there are systems in place to help you overcome these barriers. For example, if you’re struggling with your health or your mental health and your debt or finances are making it worse, then you can ask for breathing space to give you time to help you get back on your feet. There are also plenty of charities who are here to help you, like StepChange, who can help you access free debt support services. 

“How can I set up a budget that works for me?”

Our budget calculator can be a big help and a great first step to working out your outgoings and your disposable income. 

One budgeting tip that might help you is the 50/30/20 budget. This budget system divides your monthly income into three: 

  • 50% is used for needs
  • 30% is used for wants
  • 20% goes into savings 

Needs include things like mortgage or rent payments, utilities, insurance, commuting and grocery costs, as well as minimum payments on credit cards, loans, or debts. Wants are things like holidays, days out, and leisure spending. Then your savings are to help you to have cover for unexpected expenses. Extra repayments on your outstanding debts would also go into this category. 

If you’re trying to focus on paying off debts, then this rule might be a bit less helpful while your main financial goal is to become debt-free. But of course, your budget changes with your lifestyle, so it might be useful for the future.  

“How can I further educate myself on financial wellness?”

There are lots of places you can go to get more information about financial wellness, but it’s really important to make sure that any information you read is helpful, factual, and accurate. There are some great resources like r/personalfinance on Reddit, where people offer helpful tips and advice for saving and money management. 

But when it comes to serious financial advice, reaching out to professional organisations ensures that you’re getting the right information. 

There are plenty of organisations who are really helpful and trustworthy when it comes to financial education, such as StepChange, MoneyHelper, and National Debtline

Here at Lowell, we also have a dedicated debt help and guidance hub.

If you’re a Lowell customer, please get in touch so we can help you to get the information you need about your financial situation.  

“Am I prioritising my spending?”

Some spending should be prioritised, such as priority debts that could have more serious consequences if you don’t get them sorted.

Set up direct debit and automate bill payments to pay your most important bills such as Council Tax and energy bills. This prevents you from avoiding important bills and putting them off. Include these in budgeting and make a note of key dates.

But there are other things to consider, like key dates in the financial calendar you should bear in mind. Here are a few suggestions for dates to bear in mind, so that you can prioritise your spending across the year:

  • 31st January - Self assessment tax deadline: If you need to file self-assessment taxes or pay taxes, they’ll need to be done by this date.
  • 5th March 2024 - Rail fares rise: the government froze rail fares for January and February, but they’ll be likely set to rise again in March
  • April – 15 hours free childcare for 2-year-olds: The first phase of the government’s plan to provide 30 hours free childcare to all under 5s for eligible working parents comes into effect in April
  • 1st April - Energy Price Cap changes: the new price cap came into effect on the 1st of January 2024, and is updated every 3 months, so will be due to change at the start of April  
  • 1st April - Rise in national living wage: The hourly rate for workers aged 21 and over will go up by 9.8% in April, from £10.42 to £11.44. 

Commenting on the financial difficulties of 2024 and beyond, John Pears here at Lowell said “As we move into the New Year, after high pressures on our finances during the festive period, many people will be looking to get their finances in order. We’d like to remind anyone feeling financial pressure to reach out for support – and if you need additional help, take a look at our partner organisations who can help offer you independent debt support and advice.” 

If you’re a Lowell customer and having issues with your finances or your debts with us, please get in touch. We want to work with you on your journey to becoming debt-free with Lowell.

For a wide range of helpful debt-related guides and articles, you can visit the Lowell blog or our debt guidance hub.

Published by Stephanie North-Shaw, 22nd January 2024

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