• Hannah Duncan

11 tips for stressed out women to overcome financial anxiety

Updated: Aug 12

Let me start by saying, it's not you. It's the playing field. It's not f**king level.


Over the pandemic, women undertook significantly more housework and childcare than men, often while holding down a job. It’s already well-documented that women get paid less overall too. And, with so little time to rest or get ahead at work, it’s NO WONDER most of us are feeling financially anxious. Financial anxiety affects almost one in two [1] Brits today. And research from the University of Essex [2] found that while mental wellbeing declined in general, women were twice as likely to suffer, due to the heavy financial and home-life pressures.


It is SO not you.


So, how can we fix it? Well, somewhat disappointingly, I don't actually have the answers. I can't advise you. I can't advise anyone. But I DO have some useful tips. Tips which helped me get out of my credit-card, binge-spending hellhole. Tips which are the accumulation of 400+ articles on finance and wealth management. Tips which are - if I do say so myself - pretty epic. This blog has taken me literally days.


So here goes...

Hannah Duncan Investment Content
Me, trying to put on a brave face after a stressful day

1. Nurture your mental and physical wellbeing


Many women, especially mothers, put others first all the time. Like literally ALL THE TIME. But everybody needs a little TLC.


So, here's my first tip for (very justifiably) stressed out ladies ... Ready? ... Give yourself a bloody good hug and be kind to yourself.


You are a person. You deserve treats too. Make space in the day to exercise or walk in nature and enjoy a few treats. It doesn't have to cost the world. A warm mug of tea with friends, or a long relaxing bath could help you begin to feel like yourself again. Do things you love as often as you can and enjoy every spare second of the day.


The NHS has a dedicated page to help you if you’re struggling with financial anxiety.


2. Get enough sleep to reduce unwise spending


Feeling exhausted? Can't stop overthinking about how to fix your situation? Mate, me too. In 2018 I developed insomnia after being bullied at work, and it's a curse which pops up every so often. 👻 But this wasn't entirely bad, because it led to me going to a lot of talks, and doing a bunch of research on how to fix my situation. It brought me to read the most impactful book of my life, "Why we sleep", by Matthew Walker. And I learnt so much about the connection between sleep and money management. It's incredible.


Here's a quick overview of the book by Graham Mann.


Believe it or not, how much sleep we get has a profound impact on both our spending and our stress. With less than seven hours sleep, our decisions are much more emotional, and we’re far more likely to make irrational purchases or impulse splurges.


If you’ve found that you’re feeling more teary, exhausted or making unwise spending decisions, try heading to bed a little earlier and sleeping longer. It should make a difference, and well... if it doesn't, at least you got to chill out and get some zzzzs. Win win.


Lady asleep in bed
Sleep on it!

3. Delegate chores or get a cleaner


This is my all-time favourite economic rule. It's called "Time Opportunity Cost". And ohhhh mama, once you get it, you'll be HOOKED.


If you feel dragged down by chores, it might be more cost-efficient to work an extra hour or two at your job to cover the cost of a cleaner. Why? Because the amount you earn per hour may be more than a cleaner.


Plus, by putting in extra hours at work, you could get ahead. You could maximise your earning potential. And most importantly, you could spend more time doing the things you enjoy. Hello tidy house, promotion and new-found sanity.


Bucket full of cleaning supplies
Time opportunity costs starts with cleaning


Disclaimer: I didn't include this tip here because I think that women should do the housework. Far from it. I included it because the average woman in the UK does 60% more housework than her male partner. Here is the research on that: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/articles/womenshouldertheresponsibilityofunpaidwork/2016-11-10


4. Split household costs proportionally


This is an obvious one, so I'm going to keep it short and sweet. Don't pay equal if you're not earning equal.


So if you earn less than your partner, it’s not fair for you to pay half of the bills. To relieve a little financial anxiety, it could be a good idea to have a chat about splitting expenses proportionately.


Wallet full of dollar notes
Make sure you're not getting a raw deal


5. Visualise your goals


Before you start a journey, you've surely got to know the destination. Right? Otherwise you're just walking around blind with no real direction. Rubbish idea.


So, to find your way forward, visualise your short, mid and long-term goals as vividly as you can. If you're the creative type, keep reminders of your dreams all around you. Cut outs and mood boards could be the key to achieving your dreams!


So, whether it’s a debt-free holiday next year, or a spacious family home over the next five years, keep your eye on the prize.


Sunglasses on the beach
Saving for a holiday? Picture it!


6. Set a budget


Elizabeth Warren and her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, created a simple-yet-genius budget plan. Known as the 50 – 30 – 20 rule, it’s designed to fit around real life, and make it easy to achieve financial freedom. The rule is so simple to remember. 50% of money should be for the things we need, such as rent and bills. 30% should be for what we want, like gym memberships and meals out. Then, the remaining 20% is for saving and investing.


This is just a guideline, but it’s a great starting point for any budget planners.


I've written about this epic rule in more detail for Hargreaves Lansdown here


calculator charts and graphs
Budget a little fun in as well

7. Ask for a pay rise


In 1970 the Equal Pay Act was launched ... But you wouldn't think it!🤨 On average, women earn 15% less than men for doing the same work. In finance and construction, it is even more.


Read my rant on why finance and construction needs to sort itself out here


There are a zillion reasons behind this alarming pay gap. But perhaps the most upsetting one of all is that many women are not asking for more. A study by People Management found that 57% of working women have never asked for a pay rise. And when they do, they ask for less than men.


So, you know what I'm going to say ... If you haven't had a pay increase for more than two years, or you've taken on more responsibility, or you were paid too little to start with... Go and schedule a meeting with your boss.


I mean, what have you got to lose?! You may not get what you’re after the first time around, but asking in a clear and professional way could help you secure a higher income further down the line. Plus you might just get a little more respect which is always a bonus!


Two women talking in a work meeting
Ask for a raise!

8. Turn your passion into cash


A growing number of women are finding ways to ways to make passion projects and activities work for them. This could include, for example, selling crafty creations online or in a nearby market. Or helping others to learn a musical instrument, language or skill.


If you’re lucky enough to have a passion which could bring in some extra cash, consider taking advantage of it, to maximise your earning. Who knows? It could lead to an entirely new career!


One really good example, is my friend Iona Williamson. As well as having a day-job, Iona is also a skilled artist. And one day, inspired by a yoga-loving canine , she decided to draw a portrait of her friend's dog Daisy. What started out as a light-hearted gift soon went viral. And before she knew it, Iona was inundated with similar requests from pet lovers. Iona's bespoke Pet Portraits are a wonderful and fun side hustle. Not only do they bring in extra cash, but they also help to build a vibrant and eclectic portfolio. Nice!

Daisy the Yoga dog, pet portrait of a dog, Created by Iona Williamson
Daisy the Yoga dog! Created by Iona Williamson


9. Use your skills to earn extra income


Not everyone is lucky enough to have a passion which pays for itself. But many of us have skills which are valuable. For example, I am a freelance writer, and I know a bunch of people who also create content away from their day job. I think that's how most people get started in the first place. (Not me, because I like a risk, but most sensible people). From Deliveroo cyclists to part-time consultants, your skill could become your new side-hustle.


You can earn up to £1,000 [3] from your side-hustle each year before you’d need to submit a tax return.



Pottery painting
Use your skills to bring in more £££


10. See where you can rein in expenses


Gahhhh... This is the boring bit. But it has to be said. I guess. So, here goes...


Reducing the amount of money you spend may not be possible for everyone. But if you can make some cutbacks, it could help you to overcome your financial anxiety sooner than you think. This could mean upgrading your utility or mobile contract to a cheaper version. Or substituting a meal out with friends for a delicious home-cooked version. It completely depends on your lifestyle!


For parents and guardians, I whipped up a list of saving ideas for all the family, published with Hargreaves Lansdown. They are supposed to be fun anyway. I'll let you be the judge! They weren't fun for my poor family who had to put up with me badgering them for more ideas.


Fistful of dollars
Find ways to hang on to your cash


11. Organise your pension


Annnnnd this looks like it will be boring, but it's actually not. HA!


So, a recent study found three quarters of women are stressed about retirement savings. And with good reason! Experts have long-predicted today’s generation of workers will suffer in their retirement years, with women being the worst off. Typical!


To avoid this stress, you know what you have to do. Pay into a pension from a young age. It's basic common sense. And just because it's boring, it doesn't mean we should ignore it. Like Gordon Brown, sometimes the most dull thing imaginable can end up rescuing you from financial collapse.


If you'd like some tips on my favourite ethical pensions, here they are!



Smiling young woman at a desk
Go on! Get your pension sorted!

Sources:

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52527135#:~:text=The%20survey's%20finding%20suggested%20that,were%20struggling%20to%20pay%20bills.


[2] https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2020-08.pdf [3] https://www.which.co.uk/money/tax/income-tax/tax-rates-and-allowances/tax-free-income-and-allowances-azq4f4u49l5x

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