Money concerns are one of the main causes of stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the results of a 2020 Pulse Survey conducted among 6,085 employees by MindNation’s Consumer Insights Team, nearly half (46%) of respondents listed financial pressures as their source of mental health problems.
“Financial security is really uncertain right now,” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of Simply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering Filipino women. “So many have been retrenched or furloughed, and even those who are lucky enough to still be employed are always worrying that their company will go under at any moment.”
This constant threat of ongoing debt or insufficient income can result in feelings of loss of control, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. If you are in a position to ease the financial stress of a loved one, know that even the smallest acts of care can make a difference. Mariel suggests the following simple and concrete ways you can support someone who is struggling with money:
- Offer emotional support. Start by simply reaching out to let them know that you’ll be there for them in any way you can. “This lets the person know that they are not alone and eases their anxiety,” says Mariel.
Also, because people tend to anchor their identities and self-worth with their work and income, emphasize to your loved ones that they are cherished and valuable no matter what. Remind them of their core strengths and highlight the small things they do each day to contribute to their family and the community.
- Help them come up with a money-making gameplan. “Sit down with them and brainstorm ways they can earn extra money or manage their existing finances,” Mariel suggests.
- Utilize your connections. If you have another friend whose business is stable or thriving, ask if they have job openings, or if they would be willing to hire your friend on a freelance basis. “But if you’re unsure about the financial state of your friend’s business, best not to bring it up,” cautions Mariel.
- For those who have put up businesses, support them through social media. This past year has seen many people turning to home-based side businesses to augment their income. While the pressure to buy their products can be strong, Mariel assures that there are other ways to show support. “One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,” Mariel says. “Doing these won’t even cost you anything.”
In the event that you disagree with your friend’s business plan (i.e. you feel the product is too expensive), be careful in voicing your opinion. “Just express it subtly, like ‘Hey, I saw another person selling the same thing as you but at a lower price, and it’s doing very well; maybe you can try doing the same?’” advises Mariel. “Always make sure that feedback is constructive, not solely critical.”
“One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,”Mariel Bitanga, SimplyFinance (on supporting your loved one’s business for free)
- Help them find local resources. “Good financial planners don’t just help with money management, we can also sit down with them and strategize how to earn extra money,” explains Mariel.
When choosing a financial planner, make sure they have legitimate credentials and offer a holistic program. This means that instead of just focusing on a specific area of a person’s finances (i.e. insurance or investments), the financial planner considers all aspects of the client’s personal circumstances and financial position to identify the actions that need to be taken to meet their goals for the future.
Finally, Mariel adds that there is also a wealth of credible and free financial planning resources available online. She recommends the following:
- Chinkee Tan’s “Chink Positive” (available on YouTube and Spotify)
- Thea Sy Bautista (available on YouTube)
- Marvin Germo (available on YouTube)
- Vince Rapisura (available on YouTube)
- Simply Finance TV (available on YouTube)
- As a last resort, you may offer a cash gift or loan — but tread lightly. Only offer to lend or give money if you have a close relationship with the other person. “Otherwise, you risk hurting their pride or making them feel beholden to you,” explains Mariel.
When you do decide to offer financial assistance, do so without expectations of repayment. “When you put conditions on your assistance, you put an additional burden on the other person. So make sure your offer is an amount that you are comfortable letting go of,” Mariel advises.
With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, your loved ones may truly need your financial assistance. Before you commit to helping, be sure to think through what you can and can’t afford to do. Remember that if your own resources are limited, there are meaningful, effective, and creative ways to help others.
If someone you know needs help managing their financial worries, MindNation’s WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions in the PH and in the Middle East and North Africa Region. Book a slot now on FB Messenger or email [email protected].