Brits discuss finances to avoid mental health issues

Written by Oliver Wade
15/04/2019

Almost 12 million adults in the UK have confessed to openly discussing their finances with family and friends to avoid any mental or emotional health issues, new research has found.

Phoenix Group revealed that 33% of Brits talk about their finances because they firmly believe that it “simply makes sense” to discuss and plan things in advance, while 21% said they proactively discussed money as they want their children to have a better understanding of how it works.

According to the life and pensions consolidator, about two third of the adult population is happy to “regularly” discuss their finances with friends and family. Despite this, there is still a group of people (around 37%) who are against talking about their finances, with 13% of that population claiming it is “too boring”, 16% feel it is inappropriate and 11% said it was awkward.

A large number of respondents (31%) said they like to keep their finances private, stating that they have nothing to do with their family and friends. Of this group, 39% were over the age of 55, while just one in four of 35 to 54 years olds held this view.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute suggested that financial wellbeing and mental wellbeing are often linked, with over 3 million adults across the UK possessing both financial and mental health difficulties.

Furthermore, while British household sentiment is at an 11-month low amid job fears, a reflection of the slowing economy, people’s financial worries could further increase.

Commenting on the research, Phoenix Group head of customer strategy and oversight David Woollett said: “Engaging with your finances is critical, but we know that some people simply don’t talk about their plans. Sadly, our policy tracing work has shown that many people have passed away without their beneficiaries even knowing where their financial policies are.

Since September 2016, we have repatriated almost £13m of lost policies through our proactive campaign to ensure policyholders, or their estates, do not lose out. It’s evident that talking with family and friends about financial plans can help avoid unnecessary financial anxiety and stress for those who are left behind.”

The research highlighted that divorcees are the least likely group to discuss their finances with friends and family, with more than half (57%) claiming they rarely or never discuss it with them at all.

Psychologist Donna Dawson added that money problems “have always” been more of an emotional issue than a numerical one.

“The way we handle money is intimately tied up with our self-esteem and self-image, as well as feelings of pride, guilt, shame and anxiety. Keeping negative emotions inside ourselves will eventually take a toll on our physical and mental health. Most people realise this, and the adage “Better out than in”, has never been more true: talking about money problems, especially long-term ones, can offer clarity, shared ideas and empathy, reveal more options, and lead to better, more positive outcomes,” she said.

However, Phoenix Group identified five life events that trigger financial conversations; preparing a will, purchasing a property, saving for something with another party, a health scare and getting into debt without the ability to afford the repayments.

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