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How to Successfully Manage Financial Stress During COVID-19

“People had to come up with some other way to pay the bills during the pandemic, including using emergency savings, paying for more on their credit card, and stopping their retirement plan savings contributions. Due to these factors, the financial impact of the pandemic will be felt well into the future.”
– Manulife 2020 Financial Stress Survey

Not sure if you will be able to pay your hydro bill next month? Does seeing your co-workers, friends and family losing their jobs due to the pandemic give you sleepless nights and put extra pressure on your body and soul?

Money problems are a heavy burden to bear, especially when there’s not enough of it. Financial stress- now increased by the COVID-19 pandemic, deepens the stress level and leads to other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression in many Canadians.

 

Financial stress is feeling a loss of control over your finances, and it can be caused by high levels of debt, a significant decrease in income, loss of work, unexpected expenses or a combination of multiple factors.

According to the Manulife 2020 Financial Stress Survey, the two main factors keeping Canadians up at night is financial stress and its impact on retirement savings. According to the survey,

  • people with lower household incomes have been more stressed in general during the pandemic and have felt significant financial
    stress before and during the pandemic than others.
  • 15% of the respondents stopped contributing to their retirement plan savings to cope with the financial strain of the pandemic.
  • over half of the participants had to come up with other ways to pay the bills during the pandemic. These include; using emergency
    savings, paying for more on their credit card, and stopping their retirement plan contributions. Because of these reasons, the financial impact of the pandemic will be felt well into the future.

Stress isn’t something we can turn on and off easily. Naturally, we bring it into our family lives and work. However, there are ways we can take charge of the situation and feel more in control of our mental and financial health. These include;

  • utilizing employer-provided wellness programs.
  • caring for our mental health
  • taking control of our personal finances

When we know better, we do better! Since knowledge is power, let’s dive in and learn more about achieving our financial well-being!

Financial stress- now increased by the COVID-19 pandemic, deepens the stress level and leads to other mental health problems such as anxiety & depression in many Canadians.
Taking Care of Our Mental Health During COVID

Feeling overwhelmed by money worries? Identifying what you are feeling is the first step is to understand that you might be suffering from financial stress. Once you accept your emotions, you will be more assertive in dealing with any anxiety and depression, which will give you more control.

Seeking help and being willing to talk about your finances is the first step to improve it. Opening up to someone you trust about your financial stress can help you better understand thoughts and emotions. And in the current economic climate, there is a good chance the person you’re talking to will be able to relate. If you would like to start your journey and review some resources, please start with these free, educational, online sources.

Hope for Wellness – This 24/7 program is specifically designed for Indigenous peoples across Canada. You can get immediate mental health counselling from culturally competent consultants. If you are in immense stress, experiencing depression and anxiety, counsellors can help you over the phone by calling 1.855.242.3310 or online chat.

Prosper Canada – Prosper Canada has co-authored with Aboriginal Financial Officers Association(AFOA) and created an interactive and simple to use “Managing Your Money” series. The program contains seven worksheets to help Indigenous individuals and families to set and work towards their money goals. You can learn how to set your money goals, track your bills, spending, income and more. Click here and download your copy.

Here to Help – You can access various screening tests, info sheets, workbooks for self- improvement. Here to Help BC also can help you with finding resources, services, programs, or other types of supports in BC. Click here to contact Here to Help BC.

Mental Health ComissionClick and access various webinars, online courses specifically designed for Indigenous peoples, youth and
seniors.

Taking Care of Our Personal Finances

Whatever your circumstances are, there are ways to get through these challenging times. If you are stressed about your finances, it means you may need to review your budget, increase your income, cut down unnecessary expenses and look for ways to reduce your debt.

It can be daunting to examine your spending and changing your spending habits; however, revising and building a realistic household budget, allocating your current and future income will give you a sense of control and ease your stress. If you lost your job and don’t have other resources of regular income, here are some crucial steps you need to take;

Apply for Employment Insurance(EI) benefits and report your unemployment to the government
Apply for other financial assistance programs offered by federal and provincial governments:

  • For more information on Federal Government benefits programs, including
    Canada Recovery Benefit, mortgage payment deferral, and other programs for
    Indigenous peoples, please click here and find out if you are eligible.
  • For more information on provincial support, including BC Recovery Benefit,
    ICBC payment deferral, BC Hydro bill payment support and more, please click here.
Utilizing Your Employer-provided Wellness Programs

Financial wellness programs offer employees a wide variety of financial education workshops. They connect employees with experienced professionals and licensed financial advisors to better understand how to overcome day-to-day money issues, credit card debt, personal finance, etc.

Build Resiliency with EFAP Programs

Employee and Family Assistance Programs(EFAP) provide confidential, short-term counselling and referral services for employees who would like to resolve personal or work-related problems. These programs are employer-sponsored services, and they offer assessment, counselling, coaching, information and training to employees and their dependents.

If you are experiencing financial stress and have EFAP embedded in your group benefits plan, you can get professional consultation where you can discuss;

  • Budgeting.
  • Credit & Debt Management.
  • Retirement Planning.
  • Financial implications due to a separation or divorce.
  • Bankruptcy, and more.
Take Advantage of Financial Wellness Benefits

Many workplaces offer seminars or lunchtime sessions on physical activity, nutritional intake, healthy cooking and stress management. Why not have such an essential educational piece on personal finances?

At Eagle Bay Financial Services, we believe financial wellness is vital for our overall well-being. Therefore we offer free education sessions
for the plan members participating in a retirement plan. These sessions are performed in a group setting as well as private sessions. Perhaps you even had a chance to join us before!

Due to COVID-19, we have to move our education sessions into a secure virtual platform; however, we are still committed to preparing you for your golden years and give you a deep understanding of your existing retirement plan. During one-on-one meetings, we will usually review your plan and discuss the investment strategy, its performance, death benefits, re-examine your risk tolerance and more.

Even if you don’t have access to an employer-supported retirement plan, we can help you design your personal safety net. If you would like to know more about the group retirement plans and individual saving options, please contact our knowledgeable experts, Rita Isaac and Tiziana Cagnoni, for more information.

Feeling out of control of your finances can be stressful. Don’t avoid the problem! Go after it! Have tough conversations, take necessary steps and stay determined. However, while you are doing these things, don’t forget to engage in self-care and find positive things to keep you motivated and focused.

Here is a great video from an Indigenous-owned consulting agency, Three Things Consulting on Strategies to Address Stress & Anxiety. We enjoyed the meaningful conversation, which reminded us of the importance of talking, self-care and knowing that we are not alone.

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