Coronavirus: Managing financial stress

If you’re in financial difficulty due to COVID-19-related disruption, you may be feeling stressed or be suffering with other mental health conditions. Here are some tips to help you cope with this difficult situation.

Woman stressed looking down at her laptop

As things change rapidly during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, this guide will be updated regularly to reflect changes in rules and regulations.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis poses a significant financial burden for many businesses across the UK and the impact of another lockdown might just prove too much to bear.

As employers across the country struggle to recover from the impact of the first lockdown, workers around the country are being made redundant. 

Meanwhile, household finances for those still in work are also being stretched like never before, as many are seeing their pay reduced as a result of the disruption.

Feeling stressed, low, anxious or depressed is a normal and understandable response when you are going through such financial hardship. Money and mental health are very strongly connected.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 will have “significant consequences” on people’s health, both in the short and long term.   

Here are some practical things you can do to look after your health, and your finances during this difficult time.

Looking after your health

The NHS.UK website has a number of tips to help you cope with money worries, particularly if you’ve lost your job, been made redundant or you’re struggling with debt because of Coronavirus disruption.

Stay active

Keep seeing friends, and if you have more time because you’re not at work, try and do some form of exercise. More physical activity can improve your mood, especially if you’re feeling low.

Get debt advice

If you’re going into debt as a result of losing your job, there are a range of free sources of impartial advice and support on how to deal with your debts. We’ll look in more detail at debt advice and debt help later on in this guide.

ImportantlyIt’s important that you, try to speak to somebody about this. By talking to somebody, you may find it easier to face your problems head on. 

The Government-run Money Advice Service offers some simple steps to help with your debts

Do not give up on your daily routine

Try to keep getting up at a normal time in the morning and stick to your usual routine. 

It can be easy to fall into a spiral of low mood and to avoid doing the things that bring you pleasure, like exercise and speaking to friends.  

Try to focus on what you need to achieve by setting yourself small, realistic goals each day.

For instance, Ffor tips on how to eat well for less, read our guide on tips for shopping smartly during lockdown.

Managing your finances and reducing stress

Make a budget

Finding ways to make your money go further can be very important during such a difficult time. A great way to do this is to create a budget.

We have a free budget planner tool to put you in control of your spending. You keep track of your pay, benefits and your regular outgoings in one place. You can save your budget plan and return to it at any time.  

Once you’ve compared the money coming in to what you want to spend, there are several ways that you can put together a budget. 

One of the most simple and effective is an ‘envelope’ budget. This simply means separating your money out into pots, or envelopes, for spending on different things. 

For example, you can create a pot each for household bills, food shopping and rent or mortgage payments.  

You can read more about budgeting during lockdown.

Coping with job loss and redundancy

Being made redundant can be one of the most upsetting and stressful experiences a person can face.

While redundancy can be an incredibly daunting experience, it’s important to remember that your employer has to follow certain rules in order to ensure that the redundancy process is fair.

For you to be made redundant your job has to cease to exist completely; your employer is not allowed to take on someone else to directly replace you.

If you are made redundant your employer should explain to you why and how you were selected. If you believe you were discriminated against, you have the right to pursue your claim to an employment tribunal.

For more detail on your redundancy rights read our Coronavirus redundancy rights guide. 

 If losing your job has caused your health or wellbeing to deteriorate, there are a number of places you can go to seek support:

  •  Samaritans is an organisation that offers free and confidential support for those experiencing feelings of distress and despair via a free 24-hour helpline. Contact Samaritans on 116 123.  

  • Anxiety UK is a charity providing support to those diagnosed with an anxiety condition. Call 0344 477 5774 - lines are open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm.

  • The National Careers Service offers free advice and support for those who have lost their jobs as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. You can speak to an NCS advisor by calling 0800 100 900 or by taking part in a webchat. The service offers help to those living in England only.

Check your bills

It’s always a good idea to check your regular household bills. Some companies, like energy providers, have been known to make mistakes when charging customers.

But checking your regular bills could be more important than ever right now. With more people staying at home for long periods, bills for energy, water and mobile data may well be going up.

So, now would be a good time to see whether these are services areas where you can save money by switching. Read more on comparing energy suppliers.

Help with your debts

If you’re facing debts as a result of your changed circumstances, there are a number of places you can turn for help.

Independent advice and support are available from the following debt charities:

Getting advice on your debts can be a great first step to helping you deal with your situation. 

These organisations’ experts can help you prioritise your debts and set a realistic budget based on your finances.

In many cases they can also help you plan how to pay off your debts and communicate with your creditors on your behalf.

You can read more about managing your debt during the pandemic.