Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dealing with 'debtpression'

With Christmas just around the corner and the chancellor due to announce his November budget in just a few weeks, many of us may be worrying about how we can afford all those parties, presents and festive trimmings,  particularly if our bank balance isn't looking too healthy.

Debt can make us feel depressed and when we are low in mood we are likely to spend money to make ourselves feel better which unfortunately leads us further into debt. So it seems there is a close link between debt and depression and this concept has been referred to as ‘debtpression’.

We've put together five tips on how to deal with debtpression.

  1. Understand your spending  You may think you spend money randomly but often your spending follows a pattern. Some people buy things to make themselves feel or look better. Identifying the triggers that make us want to spend money, by perhaps keeping a diary of thoughts, feelings and the situations, can help us feel more in control and better able to change our spending behaviour. If, for example, low mood triggers your spending you might want to avoid shops. 
  2. Identify your beliefs about money  Money is often linked to strong emotions and often debt can come from the unconscious beliefs we have about money. In order to change our spending habits we may need to examine our emotions and be more sensitive to our unconscious beliefs and assumptions about money. By placing a value on the money we earn we put a value on ourselves instead of thinking ‘it’s only money’. 
  3. Think positively about money  Some people believe they are no good with money and will always be in debt while others actually feel anxious about being wealthy. In order to free yourself from the hold of money, you must substitute your negative thoughts about money with positive statements and not feel afraid about attracting money. 
  4. It’s all in the words  Instead of using the word ‘debt’ to describe your situation, it is better to use phrases such as ‘working towards being financially free’ and set yourself goals with specific achievement dates. Sayings such as ‘cutting back’ and ‘going without’ do little but make you feel like you are depriving yourself of something rather than improving your future. 
  5. Create new spending habits  Habits can be hard to break. Many of our money habits have formed over years and are therefore not easy to replace with good ones. The best way to create a new habit is to link a desired new action with something you do regularly in your routine. For example, every time you check your email you could also check your bank statement online to track your spending. 
Feeling unable to spend can be a miserable experience, particularly at this time of year, but acknowledging when we are in debt and taking action to improve things is vital for making things better.

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