How to put a stop to ‘credit cringe’ and cope with the anxiety caused by money shame

Do you often feel bad after over-spending? Find out how to put a stop to ‘credit cringe’ and cope with the anxiety caused by money shame.

As we approach the end of the summer holiday season, with many returning to pre-pandemic spending, one thing people will understandably be concerned about is the pressure of having spent beyond their means over the last couple of months.

Money is a big part of our lives and can have a huge impact on the way we feel, in fact research conducted by salary advance provider, borofree, has revealed that two thirds of Brits (63%) find financial hardship embarrassing.  

As we approach ‘#Debtember’, the month of September – when people are more strapped for cash than ever due to overspending over the summer – borofree wants to help those that are embarrassed by their bank accounts to put a stop to the ‘credit cringe’ they experience.

In this article, borofree has worked with mental health expert, Dr Craig Knight, a chartered and registered psychologist at online therapy platform, Feelya, to provide guidance on how to cope with the anxiety caused by money shame. 

Put pen to paper 

First things first, if you are worried about your finances, put pen to paper and making a list that records all daily expenses. This will allow you to have a clear view of where money is going.

Once it is written down, you can start to identify where costs can be cut and where you may need to budget for important outgoings. He advises that when you make lists and take the time to write things down, you automatically start to feel more in control.

By putting a plan in place, you are likely to feel greater autonomy over your daily finances and in turn, will feel less anxious about your spending. By accepting the situation you’re in, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed. 

Talk to someone you trust  

For many, COVID conditions will have already caused a deterioration in mental health. Working from home and a consequent lack of social contact has hit many people hard. It is therefore important that people reach out to others if they are feeling anxious or stressed.

Lack of togetherness has detrimental effects, and few mammals are as social as homo sapiens. Being able to talk to those you trust in a safe, non-judgmental environment is key. If people are worried about broaching the topic of their financial struggles, then developing a plan is the best place to start.

Once you have an idea of your financial situation, it will be easier for you to turn to a friend or advisor. Remember to be honest and not present your situation as better or worse than it is; the more you conceal, the lonelier the journey.  

Ask for help 

For some people, speaking to a friend, loved one or family member may not be enough. For those feeling stuck or really worried about their mental health and its impact on their capacity to function properly, don’t be afraid to reach out for extra support.

Qualified help is always available, be this in the form of a financial counsellor (if you’re worried you have fallen into debt that you can no longer manage), a trained psychologist (for those that are worried about their mental health), or both.

Many financial counsellors offer a free introductory service which may be all you need to start to put a plan in motion to help tackle your finances.

Try not to make it personal otherwise you’ll put it off 

People often feel shame about their money issues, and they will over-personalise problems, assuming too much blame. This can cause people to feel that they are hopeless or that it’s impossible to make their financial situation better, which is almost never the case.

We all experience financial worries at some point in our lives, handling such difficulties is part of what makes us human. So having an overly self-critical attitude of your money management skills is likely to put you off making a plan and taking control of your spending.  

If you are struggling, knowledge is key. For instance, if you need to make an emergency expense when the money isn’t there, make use of services that are interest free to relieve some of the guilt. Salary advance services, for example, allow you to borrow money from yourself ahead of pay day for essential items. borofree offers a service that is interest free and doesn’t come at a cost for you or your employer.  

Avoid triggering situations  

While it’s great to get out and socialise this summer, it’s important that people don’t make plans that they can’t afford. For example, if you’re feeling anxious about spending beyond your means, making a plan to head to an expensive, fancy restaurant is going to do you more damage and increase harm to your mental condition in the long-run. Instead, opt to go for drinks or a picnic with friends. 

Likewise, if you’re worried that you’re going to spend money in the shops, before you head out take a realistic look at your financial situation and budget how much you’re able to spend. Then you can prepare a list of the essential items that you need and it will prevent you from feeling anxious when you shop.  

Add activities to your life 

If you’re feeling stressed or worried, it will help to add activities to your life that you enjoy. Loneliness tends to breed more loneliness because you grow accustomed to it. So instead of suffering in silence, make plans to head out and socialise with others at least once or twice a week.  

This doesn’t need to come at an additional cost either. Meeting up with friends in each other’s homes is inexpensive.

And should you want to join a group, there is a host of cheap or free options; from poetry groups to hiking; fight clubs to book clubs. Almost all of these will encourage social interaction, which will help to take the edge off your worries. A general rule of thumb, the more you interact with others the better you will feel.  

Read more financial advice to help you avoid and deal with debt

You can read more financial advice to help you avoid and deal with debt in these articles:

Photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova