Money Talk: the cost of living crisis in our community
As part of our ‘Matriarch Does Money’ campaign, we asked our community members to comment on the ways in which the cost of living crisis has affected them
Thank you to all of our community members who shared their thoughts with us, we really appreciate your honesty.
In the wake of an unprecedented pandemic, a cost of living crisis, and the UK teetering on the brink of recession, many people are struggling financially; whether this be with paying bills, supporting their families, or doing the weekly food shop, we are all being faced with financial pressure. Now more than ever, it is so important that we are able to articulate our financial worries and problems to the people around us, and to seek help and support when we are struggling financially. As part of our ‘Matriarch Does Money’ campaign, we asked some of our community members to anonymously tell us if the cost of living crisis has affected their relationships with money, and if so, how this has impacted the way they interact with money.
When asked if they find it hard to have conversations about money, the majority of our community members said that they do, with a couple of people saying that the topic makes them “uncomfortable ”, and one person saying that they feel that there is “judgment from everyone” when discussing money.
Given the lack of financial education in the UK, it is unsurprising that a lot of people feel uncomfortable and judged when talking about money. Most of us leave school having more knowledge of basic algebra than of our country’s taxation system. As a result, we go into early adulthood with very little awareness of how to approach the topic of money. Without the language to articulate our lack of knowledge, we continue to view money as something that is taboo and private, and something that may leave us vulnerable to judgement from others.
Money is an inherently personal subject; everyone has a different view of money and how it should be used, and everyone’s financial position is different. Whilst many of our community members said that their relationships with those around them have been unaffected by the cost of living crisis, one person said that it has made them feel “restricted” when discussing achievements such as getting a new job, as they are made to feel “guilty” about their financial situation. It is understandably hard to approach conversations about money whilst ensuring that you are treating everyone with care and respect, regardless of their own financial situations. It is easier said than done to avoid comparing your financial position to those around you, especially during a time in which many people are finding the topic of money increasingly difficult to discuss. It will always be the case that some people will be more financially secure than others. This should not prevent conversations about money from happening, but rather highlight the need to approach each discussion with empathy, openness, and a willingness to make sure everyone feels supported.
The cost of living crisis has not only affected people financially, it has also had severe and long-lasting repercussions on many people’s mental health.
When surveyed, the majority of our community members cited that the crisis has had a psychological impact on them, with one person saying that it has made their “anxiety worse” as they are “worrying about money and being able to pay rent and keep enjoying things in life”.
One of the most significant impacts of the crisis has been the mental strain of budgeting for bills, and necessary expenses, and still trying to set aside money for the things that you enjoy. Many people have had to sacrifice the things that they want to spend money on, for the things that they need to spend money on. At a time in which food, drinks, and transport are increasingly expensive, it can be hard to find the extra cash to socialize with friends and family. Whilst it is easy to focus on our own problems during a time in which everyone is struggling, it’s important to be aware that everyone won’t always be able to afford to go out and spend money; try prioritizing social activities that don’t require much spending e.g. going for a walk, having a film night.
In the face of such an uncertain financial future, one of our community members said they have been left feeling that their home is no longer a “safe/comfortable space at time” due to attempts to keep rising bills low by turning off the heating. The devastating impact of rising bills on people’s mental wellbeing cannot be underestimated; it is unsurprising yet distressing that we are feeling unsafe in our own homes.
Another of our community members said they have been left feeling “alone, isolated, anxious and depressed all the time” as a result of the cost of living crisis.
This highlights the importance of checking in with friends and family when possible, and asking them how they’re doing; although it might be difficult to have conversations about money with those close to you, it is so important to reach out to people who might be struggling. With the lack of government support for rising rent prices and unpredictable bills, many people are feeling deep financial instability, and are worried about what the next weeks, months, or years might hold. In the face of such challenging times, remember that you are not alone. To avoid discussing money entirely is to forgo the advice and support that we might be able to access through talking to those we trust about our finances, and reaching out for guidance when we need it. It is possible to have constructive, considerate, and inclusive conversations about money if we are aware of other people’s relationships with money and how these may be different to ours.
Below is a list of free financial services that can provide you with advice and support. If you are struggling to pay your rent or bills, seek advice from one of the websites linked below, or contact your bill provider and discuss with them what your options are.
For advice on housing issues or homelessness
Citizens Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/
For financial advice on banking, taxes, budgeting, debt, accessing food banks etc.
For advice on pensions, buying a home, taxes, and personal finances
For information on managing money with a disability or illness, dealing with the financial side of divorce or bereavement, and information on accessing benefits and universal credit
National Debtline: https://nationaldebtline.org
For advice on how to manage your money during the cost of living crisis, and how to create and manage a budget
For advice on how to manage debts and repayments
For information and advice on what benefits and grants you may be entitled to, and how to claim them, and situational financial advice, if you are terminally ill, disabled, a migrant, have recently been made redundant, or are dealing with any unexpected financial pressure
Mental Health and Money Advice: https://www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/
Support for people facing issues with their mental health and money, including advice about paying for mental health support and social care, claiming welfare benefits and Universal Credit, and how to manage the effects of the cost of living crisis on your mental health