16 January 2023

Beat the New Year financial blues!

Beat the financial blues!

Hopefully this Christmas and New Year were a happy time for most of us as we were able to spend time again with people we care about and eat too much food. The festive period can be a wonderful time of year but there are pressures that come with it which can make the start to the new year more challenging.

I think we can all agree that Christmas isn’t cheap, and lots of people may be looking at their financial position after the festive period with concern. Many employers will want to support their staff through this difficult period to help them remain optimistic and productive.

The good news is, there are many ways employers can assist their employees and there is help and advice available. Let’s start by looking at some of the challenges we are all facing with our finances.

The cost-of-living squeeze continues

Festive overspending can really test household budgets that were already spread thin. The ongoing cost of living crisis, with rising rent and mortgage payments on top of energy bills, and the cost of food, means it’s easy to see how many of us find ourselves in debt.

A report by independent think-tank the Resolution Foundation suggests that the current cost of living crisis will continue in 2023.

The Resolution Foundation warned that despite expectations for the rate of inflation to start to fall in 2023, this would be offset by a range of living standards challenges. These include higher energy bills, rising personal taxes and rising mortgage costs [1].

As a result, typical after-housing-costs incomes for working-age families are set to fall by 3% in 2022-23 and by 4% in 2023-24 – a 7% fall over two years. This fall in income will be equivalent to £2,100 for a typical family.

The link between debt and mental health

According to the mental health charity Mind, money worries can impact mental health and affect how people manage their money [2].

Worrying about money can lead to mental health issues like stress and anxiety. At the same time, the stigma around debt may make people feel isolated. Furthermore, people suffering with their mental health can experience increased impulsivity and memory problems, which make it harder for them to keep on top of their finances, increasing the likelihood of financial difficulty. It can all start to feel like a vicious circle.

It may all sound negative, but this is where the good news and the support available comes in.

Tips to get your finances back on track.

Sorting out finances can feel like an overwhelming task. But by following some simple steps, things can start to get under control.

  1. Put a budget in place – understand what money there is coming in and going out.
  2. Cut back on the luxuries – spending more money than is coming in, doesn’t work. Identifying areas where cut-backs can be made can be really effective. Simple actions like making lunch at home can make a difference.
  3. Find cheaper alternatives – save money by shopping around for a new mortgage and utility deals.
  4. Manage debt - set up a standing order to pay off debts each month, focusing on the debts with the highest interest rates.
  5. Add money management as part of a routine - allocate a set amount of time to think about any financial tasks like monitoring the budget or paying bills.

There are several free, debt advice charities such as Step Change, who can help with getting finances back on track.

How ECIS can help

Often, sympathetic, impartial support and advice may be all that’s needed. Members on the ECIS Private Medical Insurance scheme with Bupa can access the Employee Assistance Programme. It’s a free, confidential telephone service to support your employees with issues impacting their wellbeing and work performance.

The service is available 24/7, and the helpline provides support from qualified experts. Employees can get practical support by accessing an online resource offering self-help topics to help them manage their issues.

If you’re thinking about employee benefits for your employees, speak to the ECIS team by calling 0330 221 0241 or email ecis@ecins.co.uk.

If you already have healthcare, ECIS can review your current arrangements and provide a quotation to compare against your existing policy.

[1] https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/press-releases/uk-households-just-halfway-through-two-year-cost-of-living-crisis-with-incomes-set-to-fall-by-2100/

[2] ] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/money-and-mental-health/