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The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

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Coping with financial stress

Key takeaways

  • Many Canadians experience emotional and financial challenges as part of the sandwich generation.
  • This financial stress can lead to mental health struggles.
  • There are strategies you can use to cope with this financial stress.

Emotional and financial challenges

For members of the “sandwich generation”, bringing up children and caring for aging parents provides both emotional and financial stress. You could be dealing with:

Even without these burdens, according to FP CanadaOpens a new website in a new window, Canadians are stressed about money:

  • 36% experience mental health struggles due to financial stress
  • 48% have lost sleep due to financial worries in 2023

According to The JED FoundationOpens a new website in a new window and Government of CanadaOpens a new website in a new window, these mental health challenges could result in:

  • Poor self-esteem, anxiety, shame, anger, fear, despair or panic attacks
  • Low energy, weight change, headaches and other illnesses
  • Relationship issues or social life troubles
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • High blood pressure and heart disease

If you’re experiencing financial stress, here are some strategies to help cope.

Identifying the source of your financial stress

Before you create a plan to solve your financial worries, begin by pinpointing what’s causing them:

  • Is it a 1-time or a recurring payment?
  • Is there unpaid debt or a shortfall where a bill wasn’t paid?
  • Whose problem is it ­– yours, a grown child’s or a parent’s?

Taking care of your immediate family first

If you have limited financial resources and have to choose between supporting your children or your parents, your priority should your children first. Though you may be torn emotionally about making this decision, you can always support your parents financially after helping your children.

Managing your health

No financial problem is worth damaging your health over. Plus, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone.

Make sure you take time for yourself to exercise, relax and eat properly. Try and get enough rest and do anything else you need to keep yourself mentally and physically well.

If you have workplace benefits, see if there are benefits such as massage or counselling services that can help relieve your stress.

Budgeting by paycheque

You may find it helpful to make the most of your income by learning how to budget by paycheque.

It can help you:

  • Look at fixed and variable expenses
  • Look at where you can save and where you might be able to stop spending

Creating a plan and sticking to it

Working with the family member who is having the financial issue, devise a plan to deal with the situation.

Some options could include:

  • Selling some investments to pay for the expenses
  • Using cash or investments better to create income
  • Downsizing a home to create cash you can use pay debts or for income 
  • Consolidating debt to make it easier to pay down 
  • Taking out a low interest loan or using a line of credit to pay for a big expense savings can’t cover

Get advice

There’s no reason why you need to go through this situation alone. Others have gone through similar experiences and they can help.

You can start with friends, or chat or support groups who can offer solutions and who you can vent to and bounce ideas off of.

As well, an advisor can be an invaluable resource for financial information. They bring a different viewpoint to your situation or offer solutions you may not have thought of.  

What's next?

Now that you know more about coping with financial stress, why not meet with an advisor to:

  • Discuss ways to consolidate debt.
  • Create a new budget.
  • Confirm your workplace benefits.

This information is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only. For specific situations you should consult the appropriate legal, accounting or tax advisor.

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