Social worker Jenny McCabe helps other people all the time, but it was her own financial stress that put her on the path to getting help herself.
Struggling with high credit card debts after a relationship breakdown, Ms McCabe said she “burst into tears of relief” at her first meeting with a professional financial adviser.
Relieving her stress started with identifying short and long-term goals and creating a plan that included clearing debt quickly and growing wealth through her work and property renovation.
• The pain of health insurance hikes
• End family fights over electricity
“Sure I’m tempted at the shops now and again, but I watch what I spend and make sure my salary is well managed,” Ms McCabe said.
Her money stress experiences are similar to millions of others, with new CoreData research commissioned by Mortgage Choice finding that more than half of Australians feel financially stressed.
Almost 85 per cent of them say it negatively impacts their wellbeing, and more than 40 per cent admit to being embarrassed by their debt.
But debt is not the only stress spark.
Mortgage Choice chief executive officer Susan Mitchell said her company’s financial adviser network had found other causes included uncertainty about money, lack of a system, snowballing loans and guilt.
“There are endless sources telling people they need to save more and many feel they are not saving enough money for their expenses and goals, when in many cases they are saving enough but simply do not know it,” she said.
Planning for Prosperity financial adviser Daniel Budreika said the best way to beat financial stress was to “get back to basics” and know what you earned and spent.
“I have noticed that people don’t know how much it costs to run their household — I think most people just wing it,” he said.
“They get used to living on their income and their expenses match it accordingly.”
Mr Budreika said there were many free apps available to help people track their spending.
Ms Mitchell said understanding your financial position was the first positive move to beat financial stress, followed by:
• Creating a clear plan and budget, and sticking to it.
• Asking someone to keep you accountable — a partner, friend or professional.
• Putting savings in a separate bank account.
• Preventing bill shock by saving to cover monthly and quarterly costs.