It’s Talk Money Week and Roni Marsh, Debt Team Leader at the Law Centre, explains the importance of breaking the taboo and starting a conversation about money.
Why is it important to talk about money?
It’s important to talk about money because if you’ve got some, it’s important that you use it for the right things, however much or little it is, and if you don’t have enough, it’s important to talk to someone to help work out where the little that you do have needs to go to make sure your basic needs are covered.
So why don’t we do it?
People don’t like talking about money. This is often due to embarrassment, for example most of us would never ask a colleague how much they earn. There’s also a sense of shame if we feel we don’t have enough or if we can’t afford to keep up with people. Money has become a taboo in the UK but this is very much a cultural thing – it’s different in other countries where people are much more open about their money.
How can we have a healthy relationship with money?
It’s really important not to associate money with shame, and to look at it objectively in a factual way. The question we should always ask ourselves is ‘How can I best make my money work for me?’
What are some of the most common reasons people go into debt?
The vast majority of people we see in the debt advice clinics are there for reasons that are not their fault or doing, quite often because benefits rates are simply not high enough and they can’t pay their essential bills. Under the current pandemic, this might be because they’ve been made redundant or put on furlough, or they’re self-employed and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme doesn’t give them the money they’re used to.
Again, this makes it so important to separate money from shame. Debt is often imposed on people through no fault of their own.
How can you take control of your finances?
The first thing to say is that you don’t have to do it on your own. If you don’t feel able to talk to anyone you know, then talk to someone you don’t know. Our debt advisers are trained to be non-judgmental, impartial and to put the client’s best interests at heart of the advice.
The second important thing is that you need to understand what money you have and work out your income and expenditure, so you know where you are financially.
Our debt team offers a series of free one-hour webinars on different aspects of money management which is a great way to find out about money-saving tips to help you take control of your money and make it work harder for you. We also have some offering advice around your Universal Credit claim, claiming disability benefits and benefits for carers.
How do I start a conversation about money with my family?
If you think a member of your family might be struggling with money, perhaps because they’ve been made redundant or put on furlough, then ask them if they need help. Even if they are coping financially, they will still need support and reassurance. Give them the details of someone they can talk to if they may find it difficult to open up to family members.
If you’re struggling and need to tell your family, please remember there is nothing to feel embarrassment or shame about. Having things out in the open will take the pressure off you and the situation and your family may be able to help in other, more practical ways too. The worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand and hope the problem will go away by itself. If confiding in your family really is too difficult, then reach out to an independent debt advice service who can help you understand your options and work out the best way forwards.
What difference does it make to people who do reach out for help?
Although making the first step can be difficult, our clients find that once they’ve opened up about their situation and are able to talk about their money worries, a huge burden is lifted. We can also help them understand their options and work out the way forwards rather than them feeling that there’s no way out. Debts can quickly spiral out of control without the right advice so hard as it may be, it’s always best to get advice and talk about money.
“The advice I received was excellent and so timely – it’s saved me a huge amount of pressure and given me the confidence to take the steps to sort things out.”Andrew
Read more about Andrew’s story.
If you need advice about Debt you can contact us here.