Money Matters - December 22/January 23
Money On My Mind – The Martin Lewis Column
He’s the UK’s leading money saving expert, a journalist and presenter who has kept millions of pounds in people’s pockets as well as lifting the lid on the threats and dangers we need to be aware of as consumers.
In this month’s column, Martin Lewis looks at taking back control when creditors come calling.
We are all too aware that at times of hardship it is not just our financial welfare that takes a battering. The immediate knock-on effect during any struggle is what it does to our mental health, and we seem plagued at the moment with so many challenges that we need to counter.
From the energy crisis, to inflation, to stresses over Christmas, and how much money we will have in our pockets for 2023, these are difficult times; and while so much of my advice is financial, at the heart of everything I say is the reminder that people must look after their mental health too.
I have worked with mental health charities and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute to ensure people who find themselves in difficult situations are able to access not just financial assistance, but practical and emotional support too.
The truth is when people have existing mental health problems, the administration anxiety that comes with bills, debt demands and ongoing financial commitments, can be very difficult to handle, to the point that they’re simply unable to deal with what’s in front of them. Even when in a good place mentally and financially, so many of us find processing everyday matters exhausting, so imagine the added difficulty when starting from a place of weakness.
Remember, we have the right to determine how we are approached and contacted by those we do business with. For some people receiving a text message informing them of something may represent a nightmare. For others, a text is the only way they wish to communicate; while some prefer to converse over the phone, or even face to face.
It’s essential we stand up and state our preferences, and organisations have to adhere to these. That won’t necessarily mean the problem will go away, if you are behind on a bill, for instance; but it will bring back control to you and, from the outset, allow you to determine how you want to go about tackling a problem.
It was reported that 44% of people with mental health problems who fell behind on payments during the pandemic considered or attempted suicide; and if you macro that up to the UK population that would be two-and-a-half million people.
I'll be honest and say that when I heard that figure, I didn’t find it surprising; but it does surprise and disappoint me that people still don’t feel they have the tools to fight back and retake control.
From recovery space to payment holidays, to freezes on interest or repayment plans, speak to your creditors in a way that is firm and fair, and you will likely get the result you want.