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Ask the Counsellors: Feeling Financially Stressed With Rising Prices

Dear Counsellor,

I have been very overwhelmed with rising prices and it has been keeping me up at night wondering how I am going to be able to pay my bills. I’m not sure what to do about it and I know my family has been worried about me the last few weeks as I have been having stomach aches and headaches almost daily. I have also had little patience with my children and I have been yelling a lot. Help!

 -Financially Stressed


Hello financially stressed,

Unfortunately, I do not think your situation is all that uncommon. Rising prices for food, gas and other essentials has caused many people to feel the financial crunch. There are several things you can do to help.

  • Assess your financial situation. Write out all your bills and divide them into fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses for example might be your mortgage payments. An example of variable expenses is entertainment. It is variable because the amount can change from one month to another. Once you add up your bills, you can see if your income can actually cover those expenses. If it does – great you can rest a little easier knowing that you can pay your bills. If you fall short – then examine your expenses, especially those variable or optional expenses to determine if there is anything you can reduce or eliminate. If there are bills you can eliminate, cancel them – today do not wait.
  • Now that you know your monthly bills, do up a budget. Ensure you include money for savings. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not saving any money and relying on credit cards to pay for unexpected expenses, which gets them in debt, making their financial worries even greater. Putting away 10% of your income each month can prevent this. If you do not have 10% to spare, then designate an amount, any amount to get started.
  • Call all credit card companies to see if they will lower your interest rate. Some people do this regularly and as long as you are in good standing with the company, they will usually do this if asked.
  • Assess your ability to make a bit more money. If working another job isn’t possible, are you able to sell something you do not use or need anymore? Designate any extra income to paying off debt so you can do this faster.
  • Seek debt counselling services that can help you get control over your financial health.
  • Get everyone in the family on board with saving money. This is best done in a way that does not worry children about money, but instead allows them to be part of the solution and work together as a family to live your best life as a family. Some ideas are:
    • Develop strategies on how to reduce food waste within your family. Maybe freeze some food, make less food at each meal, make grocery lists when shopping so you do not get food you do not need.
    • Develop a list of fun activities that you can do as a family that do not cost a lot of money.
    • Purchase things like ice cream to have at home instead of going out for ice cream.
    • Consider purchasing second hand items instead of new. There are many online sites that can assist with this as well as several stores that specialize in second hand clothing, etc.

If you still have difficulty managing your anxiety about your finances, a counsellor can assist you with anxiety management. These expenses are often covered by your insurance providers and is time and money well spent, to ensure you are taking care of your mental health. Doing this can also help model for your children that we all need help sometimes, asking for it is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Sherry Tucker, BA, BSW, MSW, RSW