FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
How to protect your finances when times get tough
30 October 2019
Life can get stressful. When we’re in the thick of stressful situations, many of us may hesitate to reach out for help. The truth is, stresses like job loss, relationship breakdowns or illness can affect anyone. While every situation will be different, there are some things you can do to feel more financially stable.
Consider seeking financial counselling
Money worries can take over your mind. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s worth reaching out to an expert to help reduce your stress and put you on a better financial path.
While asking for help can be daunting, it may be one of the most important discussions you have. A financial counsellor may be able to suggest ways to improve your current financial situation, negotiate repayments with your creditors and help you plan a budget.
For free and confidential financial counselling services throughout every state and territory in Australia, visit:
- National Debt Hotline website or call them on 1800 007 007
- The Money Smart website of the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC)
- 'Doing-It-Tough' by the Australian Banking Association
While there’s no one solution to every money worry, a better financial future is possible with the right help and healthy money habits.
Develop a financial plan
Once you’ve sought out someone to support you with your financial situation, you may be able to work with them to develop a new plan moving forward. Whether you’re dealing with credit card debt, job loss or planning for retirement, it’s never too late to put an action plan in place.
To develop a strong financial plan, you’ll need to review:
- your current income
- any debts you carry, including loans and credit cards, and
- assets or property in your name.
As part of your new financial plan, you’ll need to be able to set goals and stick to them. A lot of your success will depend on your dedication to using a budget. This doesn’t mean you have to swap everything fun for boring, lengthy spreadsheets. Budgeting is more about a state of mind and a collection of good money habits to keep you focused on your goals.
Focus on healthy money habits
When you’re stressed, managing your money may be the furthest thing from your mind. But, by investing in your own financial literacy and cultivating healthy money habits, you can stay one step ahead of common financial pitfalls:
- Challenge negative thoughts around finances – Instead of focusing in on the negatives of your financial situation (saying things like “I’m so broke” or “I’ll be in debt forever”) take a moment to be thankful for the things you do have. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. If you’re experiencing the worst parts of life, such as the passing of a loved one, being thankful can be extremely difficult. Take your time to grieve and seek the support you need to get through.
- Address avoidance behaviour – Do you feel like all your financial troubles will go away if you simply ignore them? As much as we’d like this to be the truth, the only way to combat financial pressure is to tackle it head on. Remember, you don’t need to tackle everything all at once – addressing things one small step at a time can also make a big difference.
- Find ways to boost your mood without spending – Sometimes spending money can make you feel pretty good. Unfortunately, that feeling quickly goes away. Luckily, there are plenty of activities that can help boost your mood without the price tag. Try going for a walk around the block, volunteering your time or donating some things you don’t need. The most effective mood-boosting activity may be different for everyone, and that’s ok. It’s about finding out what works for you.
- Reduce impulse spending – We’ve all felt the pull to purchase something we didn’t intend to. While it may be tempting, giving in to impulse spending can put a huge dent in your finances and affect your good financial habits in the long run.
During tough times, it’s important to keep those around you in the loop. A trusted family member, friend or community organisation can help provide you with extra emotional support during times of financial stress.
If you or someone close needs extra mental health support, there are several organisations you can reach out to. We’ve partnered with ReachOut, Australia’s leading online mental health organisation for young people and their parents or guardians. They provide practical support, tools and tips to help young people and carers get through everything from everyday issues to tough times. For example, the #teamgirls movement is a collaborative effort between Suncorp, ReachOut and Netball Australia that aims to promote and foster girls' ongoing involvement with sport.
ReachOut has qualified coaches and counsellors available online to help guide young people and their parents to find the help they need.
Other mental health organisations around Australia are available to help anyone who is having issues with mental or physical health:
- Beyond Blue provide resources to help with anxiety, depression and suicide prevention. You can call them 24/7 on 1300 224 636.
- Wesley LifeForce service finder can connect you with counselling, mental health and community services throughout Australia, wherever you live.
- Lifeline provides free telephone crisis support 24/7. Call them anytime on 13 11 14.
- ‘S.M.A.R.T’ planning to help manage financial stress
- When two (bank accounts) become one: sharing finances with your partner
- What is Life Insurance?
Experiencing financial difficulties?
We understand things don’t always go to plan. If you’re experiencing financial stress due to job loss, illness, relationship breakdown or any other reason – we’re here to help. If you need more information about how we can guide you through tough financial moments, you can access supporting resources or contact our specialist team through our Financial Difficulty hub.
Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product