Six ways to de-stress your financial life

We all get stressed at times - and money worries are a common cause. To mark National Stress Awareness Day last Wednesday, which promotes awareness of the dangers of excessive stress, we've come up with realistic ways you can de-stress your financial life.

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From dealing with debt to making sure you have the right insurance in place to protect you and your loved ones, follow our top tips and you should soon be feeling relaxed and happy about your finances.

If stress is having a major impact on your life, it can be of huge value to talk to people with experience of such matters. Here at MoneySuperMarket we work closely with Mind, the mental health charity, to help people find support and guidance during difficult times, whether they're caused by financial worries or anything else.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "No one should have to face mental health problems alone and that's why we offer information and support to anyone who might be struggling with money matters."

You can find Mind online at www.mind.org.uk or call its advisors in confidence on 0300 123 3393. Calls are charged at local rates, but will cost more from a mobile phone.


So here are some tips on de-stressing your financial life:

1. Deal with your debts

Being chased by lenders for money you don’t have is one of the most stressful things that can happen to you. And worrying about whether you’ll be able to meet your next mortgage or loan payment is certainly enough to keep you up at night.

However, sticking your head in the sand and trying to ignore the problem is probably the worst thing you could do.

If you’re worried about paying your mortgage, a quick call to your lender could be the solution. Many banks or building societies offer short-term payment holidays to those in financial hot water – but they will be much less sympathetic if you only get in touch after you have started missing payments.

If you’re a tenant, your rent should be your financial priority in the same way as mortgage payments – you don’t want to out the roof over your head at risk.

Other ways to reduce the debt-related stress include consolidating several balances on to one credit card with a long 0% interest balance transfer period (you will need to pay a transfer fee) or using a loan with a competitive rate of interest to clear other high interest debts.

If you need advice on the mechanics of handling debt, a charity such as http://www.stepchange.org/ can help.

2. Catch the savings bug

It can seem hard to put a little aside each month, particularly when cash is tight. But the peace of mind of knowing you’re building a nest egg is priceless, and there are savings accounts to suit every circumstance.

3. Get a better deal

It’s a horrible feeling thinking that you are somehow missing out on a better deal.

But that’s probably exactly what is happening if you have not compared financial products such as your mortgage, current account and credit card with the best offers around for a while.

Several of the best two-year fixed-rate mortgage deals on the market at the moment have headline rates of around 1.50%, way below the 4%-plus standard variable rates.

And current accounts often pay higher rates of interest than savings accounts when you agree to pay in a certain amount each month and pay a monthly fee.

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4. Protect yourself

Taking out insurance is certainly not one of the most exciting things in life, but it is one of the best ways to know that you and your family are protected should anything go wrong.

After all, not having an insurer to cover fire damage to your home, for example, could mean total financial devastation, as could you dying and not leaving a life insurance payout to help your loved ones.

And when it comes to car insurance, you could face a fine of £1,000 or more for failing to have the right cover in place.

To keep your stress levels in check, it makes sense to ensure that all your policies are up to date and offer the cover that you need. Just remember to shop around each year to ensure you don’t pay over the odds.

5. Fix your energy prices

The cost of home energy keeps going up, putting an increasing strain on family budgets – and therefore upping their stress levels. However, you can protect yourself from future price hikes by switching to a fixed rate energy deal.

With these deals, the rate you pay for each unit of energy is fixed for a certain period – the longest fixes last until 2017. So if you fix, you bills will remain the same if you use the same amount of energy.

The best deal for you will depend on where you live and how much energy you use (and when). All the information you need to switch to a competitive fixed tariff is on your current bill – and we guide you through the process on our energy channel, so you can find out whether you can save in no more than 10 minutes.

6. Bundle your TV, phone and broadband

Grappling with lots of different bills can be confusing and stressful. But the good news is that bundling your TV, phone and broadband together so that you have just one bill for all three could save you money as well as time.

TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky all offer deals of this kind, so why not check out how much you could save – and slash the stress of dealing with all those bills.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

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