Created: 04 July 2016
"Sorry I can't, I'm sooo skint!"
I am sure everyone has a friend like Sarah. She is the friend that is always skint. You kind of just take her for her word but you really can’t work out why. She is in a similar job to you, shops in H&M and still goes for the house wine on the menu but claims to never have any money. She will object to splitting the bill at restaurants, and rather painstakingly calculate her share, whilst telling you about a new jacket she just brought. She can’t contribute to birthday presents but didn’t she get an uber back from the party?
Well, I’ve decided Sarah is not actually living below the poverty line despite her complaining. I think she suffers from Money-Splat brain: where you have no idea how much you have and how much you actually spend, so you are in a constant state of fear about your finances, whether you should be or not.
Now Sarah happens to fit in to the exact category of people which are at a greater risk of poor financial wellbeing according to a study by Cox et al¹ who mention being younger, single and living in rented accommodation as factors. However, even people that are not in this demographic still put this as a source of anxiety. In fact, 46% of us worry about their finances, with 1 in 5 losing sleep over it.²
Unfortunately, financial stress has a real affect in the workplace, with a report by Barclay’s wealth finding that this can result in lost productivity; impacting the bottom line by 4%². Despite this, only 23% of businesses have considered a strategy specifically addressing wellbeing according to a report by Employee Benefits³.
So what can we do to improve our wellbeing and manage our finances better?
1. What businesses can do: Employers should thing about creating a financial wellbeing strategy to support their employees. This is not about simply increasing wages but aiding employees to manage their spending.
There are indeed a number of companies already tackling this such as London NHS and O2 who use Squirrel – where, amongst other things, Employees can choose to have their monthly salary held by Squirrel and then delivered to their bank account weekly.
2. Keep your eyes on the money: Although it tempting to avoid seeing how much that fancy meal last night set your savings back, research shows there is merit to monitoring your savings. Using mobile banking makes this even easier - according to Halifax’s Generation Save report, 81% of 18 to 24-year-olds say that using mobile banking is helping them to actually save money.
3. Use Technology to keep you on track: Based on research by LSE, using technology such as automatic messages, can help people achieve their long term financial goals. HSBC used this to create the app ‘Nudge’ which according to Business Insider, sends tailor-made notifications to users on their spending habits, telling them how much they are spending on a day-to-day basis and comparing it to past days or similar people⁴.
Written by Katie Zimmerman
Katie works for EY and has continually taken an active interest in Organisational psychology and Wellbeing. Katie uses her own experiences and understanding of the workplace to blog for Yoke Consultancy.
¹ Financial Well-being in the Workplace, A Cox, H Hooker, C Markwick, P Reilly
³ Employee Benefits, November 2015, Pensions Research 2015