How to cope with the stress of money

How bad can the stress of money get?

Aside from low esteem, lack of self worth, depression, PTSD and suffering from workplace bullying, another key factor which led my friend Del to die by suicide in 2013 was the stress of the financial future.  Worried that his illness could cost him his job, he could see no way forwards, no way to protect and provide for his family, and no outlook which seemed possible.  Tragically, I only knew of this after he died.

Who is there to help?

Had Del sought professional financial help instead of suffering quietly, allowing the stories of worry to spin out of control, without doubt we could have found a way to change his perspective, and work together to build a way forward.  Instead, he came up with his own financial plan, to protect his family’s financial future by choosing to die by suicide, relieving his own suffering and in his eyes, helping them.

Picking up the pieces, and working with Del’s wife Nel, we have been able to help, to give her purpose, and to bring a little sparkle back into her eyes at times, and that is the most worthwhile aspect of being a financial life planner.

Where-ever you are,  here are 6 stressful money situations highlighted by Business Insider which may seem difficult to avoid, yet are never the end of the road – there is always a way forwards …

How to deal with a financial emergency 

If you do not have capital saved, make sure you have an emergency credit card to fall back on.  This is a temporary solution, but will give you enough time to seek proper advice, and make a plan to move forwards.

Worrying about buying a home

Here is a stress-pit of worry.  How much should you borrow? Should you borrow as much as possible? Should you use all your savings? What protection should you have?

The questions are endless, yet can be answered if some proper planning and modelling is carried out.


How much should I save for retirement?

No two people are the same, there is no magic number which fits everyone.

Only when you know what you would value in retirement, can you start to figure out what you may need money-wise.

This is the importance of financial life planning – an approach which puts your life at the centre of the plan, not the monetary values.  You may be surprised, the qualities in life which you want may not required huge sums of money at all.


When should I retire?

Just like above, no two people are the same.

If you have a range of plans and ideas which need you to be fit and healthy, maybe you need to retire sooner.  If you love what you do, but can start to find a great balance between that and leisure, then there may be no reason to rush into it.

Either way, discussing a planning it is essential.


How much money should I give my children?

It’s hard to say no, and at the same time, many of us would rather see our children not have to struggle.

Making it too easy may not be a good thing, but saving it all up until you die – that too has it’s own perils.

Whatever you do, by adopting a balanced plan, and sensible approach, you could be able to help your children along, and at the same time, helping them value what they are given.

Above all, don’t deprive yourself of the fun you deserve later in life (but also, don’t aim to be the richest person in the cemetery).


How can I help my parents with their finances?

One of the trickiest conversations of all is talking about your parent’s money.

Naturally cagey, they may not want to volunteer the information (and is is hard to not look as if you are interested in an inheritance, particularly if they are unwell). Bring siblings into the conversation, and start the discussions well ahead of time to figure out what sources may be available for long term care funding, and of course, what wishes they have.  In the same way that you want to enjoy your life, they should be focussing on their days being as comfortable as possible, not scrimping and saving and trying to get one over on the local authority by not paying for care (saving the fees, but ending up in a grotty care home).

What to do next?

By proper planning, and discussing these issues with a professional, there is a chance that many of the most stressful money situations can either be avoided, or at least eased.

Please, please do not let them spin out of control stories in your head.  Ask for help, get a reality check, and let someone guide you onwards.

Find someone who speaks your language, who keeps things simple, and are focussed on you.  Financial decisions are hard enough to make at the best of times, never mind when you have huge levels of stress and worry to cope with.



Does life really begin at 40?

Life begins at 40

Well that’s what we are told, and taking heed of that advice may be worthwhile.

What happens at age 40?

  1. At age 40, your children are beginning to grow up
  2. You’ve probably seen through some of the impressionable influences of the past
  3. You have probably grown up
  4. You see loved ones health failing
  5. You start to look towards your own future and retirement

Why is 40 a good time to start financial planning?

At 40, by now, maybe the financial shock of bringing up a family is finally hitting home, and with it comes the need for proper budgeting, awareness and planning.

You may be starting to inherit some money from older generations, and as you have grown up yourself, now start to reflect on the future.

Suddenly, the importance of pension planning may be hitting home – with only 27 years to go (that is the same time from when you were 13 – and we can all remember that).

The big reality, is that whilst it’s great to live in the moment, we only come this way once!

I’m 40 and I have my own mind!

Maybe now, the idols of the past, or those people who you felt intimidated by no longer hold such sway.  Maybe, you felt disempowered, and so much so that you were just too afraid to speak out or take action.  Most likely though, you just went along with it so as not to stick out or be controversial.

At 40 though, with greater insight and confidence, you may be keen to look at what is really important to you, what you genuinely value, and where your real priorities are.

I’m 40 and I’m probably halfway through!

None of us know how long we will live, but let’s pretend it is an even 80 years. At age 40, you are already half way through, yet you haven’t really got going yet. Even more frightening, is that at some stage, you will need to make huge decisions about the long term future.  Most of these decisions will hinge one way or another around money – that precious commodity which you may now have just about got a grip of.

Where can I learn about money?

Sadly money isn’t really taught in schools (you may well learn really practical things like the names of Henry VIII’s wives, but how to deal with the one thing which is centre to happiness – no).

Can a financial adviser help ?

Yes and no –  it depends on who you speak to.  There are some advisers who just want to arrange policies, give advice relevant to the products they have to sell, and stay focussed in those areas (which is fine if you have an excellent handle on all of your goals, and how to manage your money), and there are others who want to engage in an ongoing relationship – where they are there to guide and support you towards your goals – it’s called financial life planning.

Why do I need financial life planning?

At the age 40 cross-roads to life, your priorities and aspirations may well start to shift.

Remember all those things you wanted to do when you were a child, all those ambitions of teenage years,  even the things which you were always planning on doing, but maybe now, the body may not quite cope?

Lost dreams, failed aspirations and  regrets – are all things which come about when no action was ever taken, for whatever reason.  The reason may be deep rooted and linked to money, or fear. By burying those fears, the dreams are also buried, consigned to the past, and never to be resurrected.

At 40, do you just want to resign yourself to what you have?

What would it be like if you had the chance to reflect on everything, see what maybe possible and dream of those possibilities without the burden of doubt, or all the massive obstacles coming your way? How would it be if there was perhaps a possibility that maybe some of those dreams could happen?

If you don’t explore those dreams while you still have time, one day, they definitely won’t happen – and will stay for the rest of your life as regrets.

What has financial planning got to do with this?

Many people’s dreams are shattered before they start because of the fear of money.  That’s not to say they are afraid of money, but there are elements of fear which are linked to money. Fear and doubt combine, then it is safer not to dream or try at all, after all who wants to be disappointed? Far better not to try eh!

By understanding what all of the important aspects of life are, discussing them with a skilled planner (someone who cares about you not just about your money) together, you can explore the possibilities. Imagine if you could retire early because you already had enough money to enable that lifestyle to take place?  Imagine being empowered that you could make the decision to follow your passions now, with the knowledge of what you need to do in the future to stay financially stable?

Here’s a real life example

A couple were working for the same business, yet hated every day of it.  Together, we had explored how they would really want their lives to look, what was deeply important, the qualities of every day, and how they would like to feel.  That aspirational life was a distant dream compared to how they felt every day.

Having painted the picture of this utopia, combining that with some sophisticated lifetime cashflow modelling, we could see that it would certainly be possible at their normal retirement age – phew!  That retirement age however was still seven years away – seven more years of unhappiness and misery at work.

How about we bring the future forward to now?

That was the question I asked.  ‘Could we stop work now, and actually start to be in control of our own lives?’ – let’s find out…

The answer was yes.  We looked at how much they needed each year, built that into their plan, changed their retirement date, and all of a sudden, a huge burden was lifted – no longer did they have to go to work and feel compromised. As it happens, they did still work for another 9 months, but with the knowledge that they were in control of the situation.

So why start planning at 40

Many people feel that they do not need to plan for the future until they reach 60, but at that time, your choices are already limited, and, on top of that, 20 glorious years of health and ability have passed.  Not only may you not have the time to plan for the things you wanted to do, but also the ability to do them may have passed.

Anyway, why would you want to wait for another 20 years of compromising what it is you really want to do each day?

That is the power of planning as soon as possible.

5 Holes in your Bucket list? – Here’s why…

Do I need a bucket list?

There is far more to life than just having the traditional ‘bucket list’  – here is why…

Don’t just have a tick list of things to do 

Take running a marathon, once that is done, do you stop running?  Once you have had the holiday of a lifetime, do you stop holidaying, once you have built or developed the ideal house, do you become complacent about it?  If you were to become a senior manager of where you worked, would the name badge be your goal?  Look beyond the tangible things in life. 

There are always reasons why you want to do things

Take running a marathon again, is it bragging rights you are after and to get a medal?  To have a focus to keep you training to improve your overall fitness, or to push yourself to the max?  Similarly, with travel, is visiting places just an opportunity to say ‘cross that one off your list Margaret’ or are the deeper experiences, memories, understanding and experiences to have?  What would that ideal house give you, more than a big house to look at, but perhaps a haven a home, the space for your family to just be. Finally, achievement at work – is the name badge and title really all that matters, or is it that you inspire and lead continually, rather than just puff your chest out feeling important all of a sudden. Once you know the WHAT you want to do, ask yourself WHY you want to do it, and what if you didn’t do it.

The people in your life are also part of this 

Your plan, your goals, your vision.  That’s all great, focus is a wonderful thing, but not to the detriment of all of those around you. Training for a marathon requires a lot of compromise and balance with your family.  The ideal holiday, has to be agreeable with everyone else, and then the key is not to lose sight that it is also their trip and experience as well. Just because it was on your list, does not mean that your view on what should happen is the only one which counts. The house – it’s again key to allow everyone to enjoy it, to find their own spaces, enjoyment, way of living.  Overall it is a home, and one for people to feel safe and loved in, not just a pile of building materials.  Pursuit of a career without recognition of everyone else leads to huge unhappiness in many families.  Leaving home at 7am, returning at 6pm – really, what quality of life is that, and sometimes, it is easy to kid ourselves that we are doing it for everyone else.  If you died today, guess what, your boss would replace you tomorrow! Always remember who will be by your bedside when you die.

The experience is fluid 

It is great to have an idea, a vision of what it may be like, but remember, that is in your head – it is your reality, but not anyone else’s.  A sub 4 hour marathon may need to become a 5 hour one,  the holiday may be slightly, or even very different from what you had imagined, the house may not be a new one, but a renovations, a different location, anything could change – what if it is a red door instead of the blue one you had dreamed of?  It’s just the portal to your haven – not the end of the world! What if you don’t become a director or senior manager of where you used to work, but rather found something very different elsewhere?  Not the pin-striped suited meeting in a glass clad office, full of ego and materialism, but a real influencer, someone who made a difference – to others not just the owners bank balances? Go with the flow, like a river, the twists and turns often bring the most unexpected joy and happiness.

Ultimately, life, and your plan is an ongoing journey

Life is an ongoing development, change, adaption, and experience.  Yes, of course it ends one day, but life as it is, is ongoing journey, something constantly changing. Take the marathon, maybe it is a shift to a healthier lifestyle which is the key, yes, the desire of a medal or running for 5 hours is the catalyst, but it is the shift which is the deeper aim. The travel may be to enjoy experiences, to enhance our understanding of the world, to create memories and to have happy times.  Picking destinations is the catalyst.  The house may be to create a safe haven a family hub, a place where you can all be together, and the career may well be to make a difference to others, which once we understand is not necessarily done with name badges, starts to release that attachment and ego. Life is not a list of achievements, it is a sense of feelings, of messages.

Life  is who you are being along the way. So when you compile your bucket list, 101 places etc, start to look examine the reasons and feelings – that’s and is why working with a professional financial life planner is very different from just saying  ‘cross that off your list Margaret’.


There are probably 5 holes in your bucket

What is a bucket list?

No doubt you have seen the film The Bucket List, the idea which has inspired many people to review what their most important tangible goals are.  Climbing a mountain, running a marathon, having a sports car, visiting a certain place, learning something new and so on.  Many bucket lists and plans tend to be focused around things, going, doing, seeing and having, yet surely there is more to life than just things?

There is a far deeper, more meaningful aspect which is easily overlooked and forgotten…  Continue reading “There are probably 5 holes in your bucket”

How could redundancy affect your pension?

How could being made redundant affect my pension?

Just when you thought you had it all sorted, one of the few people to still be in a final salary pension scheme, a good salary, and making additional pension contributions, suddenly, it all goes wrong.

Redundancy sends you on a very different journey indeed.

However, being the diligent person, paying additional amounts into your pension, perhaps maximising your annual allowance of £40,000, the future looks ok, especially with the large redundancy lump sum you are going to be paid in the present tax year.

Then the tax regime comes tripping merrily in your direction : Continue reading “How could redundancy affect your pension?”

Is my ideal retirement possible?

Is there a chance my retirement may be different?

Many people find that their view and experience of their retirement may be very different from what they expect. Reality can be a pretty harsh awakener (especially if it’s your own retirement).

How do I get a picture of my income in retirement?

In the financial part of the equation, you can of course model, plan and adjust assumptions and figures as you head towards the big day and the rest of your life.  Of course it takes a high degree of  knowledge and skill to get the figures absolutely correct, and with the aid of technology, it is easier to get pretty close, even building in re-runs of the 2008 credit crunch (remember that?).

What if things don’t turn out like I thought?

Even if you have the financial plan in place, it may be that the other side of retirement – LIFE – can all of a sudden, not unfold quite as you had imagined.

What do I want from retirement?

Will your retirement be all holidays and lunches at garden centres? Will it be just looking forward to watching your favourite TV show with an eccles cake and a cup of tea at 3.30pm ?  Or, could it be full of purpose, full of fun, a brand new start?

What do I want to achieve when I finish work?

Frequently people who had such high expectations for their retirement, find that a year or two in, they have managed to find themselves in a rut of mundaneness (they may even be fulfilling their spouses retirement and not even thinking about their own). They may even look back and wish that they had stayed working and be paid to be bored, rather than sacrifice an income and lack little social interaction.

Should I start to plan my life and money?

People just like you are quickly realising that they need to plan their retirement just as they plan their future.  That planning is not just about scheduling in a month-long break to Malta each October, but figuring out how each day and week may look for you.  What will you do to happily fill the time, and regain your purpose and passions which may well have been put on hold for 50 years (whilst ‘grown up life’ for in the way).

Is there more to retirement than just money?

Finding your happy retirement is not just going to be attached to a number – a certain amount of income, especially if all those years lack fun, freedom and a real purpose. You will probably find that the things which bring you the most joy, may not even cost much at all, you just need to find them and not be trapped in a retirement bucket.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life


How bad is commuting for your mental health?

Many of us acknowledge that the journey to work is a real drag, that arduous commute, changing from 1st gear to 2nd, or jammed into a stuffy bus or tube train.  That is no way to make you feel uplifted and positive about the day to come – far from it!

How has commuting changed?

According to research by the University of West of England (analysing 26,000 people over 5 years), not only has the commute time increased by 25%, but 1 in 7 spend more than 2 hours commuting every day – that is 10 hours a week!

What is the impact of commuting on your mental health

An increase in stress and worsening of mental health for workers (not to mention the impact that then has on their families).  There are of course only 24 hours in each day – so choosing how to spend them is a very important task indeed. Continue reading “How bad is commuting for your mental health?”