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Mental health awareness week was here in NZ recently. Money stress effects 22% of people every day. A further 25% worry about money weekly. Anxiety comes from looking at the future and being uncertain, of not being able to clearly see the way ahead. It is easier to ‘stick the head in the ground’ and do nothing. Do you worry about money? If you do, you are like 61% of New Zealanders who worry about it with different frequencies, but at least monthly.

Key points:

  • What is distressing?
  • What the numbers say
  • What can be done?

Anger, frustration, feeling lonely, unsure where to turn. These are defensive mechanisms against anxiety.

  • I have a job, but for how much longer?
  • Will it be my head that rolls, during the next corporate shake-down?
  • Can I pay the mortgage this week?
  • Will my card be accepted at the supermarket or will it be declined?
  • Can I put fuel in the tank?


It all becomes noise that makes it hard to think straight. Deep down, most of us know that there are better ways of managing money. At best we are told to ‘budget’ but what does that even mean? Does it even work? Maybe only for 5% of people who are used to ‘clipping coupons’. How do we survive let alone think about thriving? Where do we turn to for help?

Suicide rates in NZ are twice that for road deaths. Think on that for a moment. For every person that dies in a road incident, 2 have lost all hope and have taken their own lives. Some of those will have money issues that contribute to their feeling of despair.

What the numbers say

I am in finance; it stands to reason that I like numbers. For me, numbers help to tell a story.

  1. There is a strong relationship between money and wellbeing

25% of people are majorly influenced by financial wellbeing

  1. Financial issues impact mental health

19.8% of people are adversely affected by money issues

  1. Financial issues impact relationships

15.9% of people’s relationships are adversely affect by money

  1. People worry frequently about money

61% of people worry about money at least once a month

This is from research data that was collected in the middle of this year, 2020 as the COVID lock-down was in full swing in NZ. This is real-time, as real as we can have it. Times are tough for many people. Thinking about money matters, personal finance and how to sort your dosh, is a big part of it.

What can be done?

The first thing is talk to someone. Don’t try to be a hero and shoulder it all on your own. This is the same advice for people suffering stress, mental and/or emotional turmoil. A problem shared is a problem halved. Ok, maybe not halved as the saying goes, but speaking with someone can make you feel a little better. And feeling better is a start. Noting is forever, there is always a way forward. Below is a quick list that might help. It is not definitive, but it is a start.

  1. Be money smart – you don’t need to buy premium
  2. Review your insurance – test the market and get a deal
  3. Automate your cash – pay yourself first (before your bills and everything else takes, takes, takes)
  4. Take it easy – Simple and easy steps can make the world of difference

If all that feels underwhelming for your situation, there are a range of services to help you. It might be simple like www.sorted.org or you might need something with a stronger flavour, perhaps try www.lifeline.org.nz/ . You don’t need to feel financial distress on your own. Tough times can be lonely enough without shouldering that burden too.

Dominic Bish

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