In a cost of living crisis, we can no longer afford to people-please, says life coach Anna Williamson.
The rising cost of living is hitting us all hard and impacting our everyday lives in different ways. LV=’s Wealth and Wellbeing Monitor survey found that around four in 10 women say they are struggling financially, as are three in 10 men; meanwhile, just over a quarter of workers surveyed said they have less than £1,000 in savings.
This kind of financial insecurity puts a strain not only on our bank balances and mental wellbeing, but our personal relationships too. According to LV=, around 8% of people said they had needed financial support from friends and family in the previous three months – double the amount in the previous quarter.
Capital One’s new research hinted that despite money being on all of our minds, we’ve become increasingly secretive about it, with 32% of people admitting they keep information about their credit cards, personal loans and savings a secret from their partner.
Life coach and dating expert Anna Williamson says that she’s noticed this growing feel of angst around money growing within her clients and her own circles. “Before now, my friends and I would never have discussed anything to do with finances, be it electricity bills or mortgage payments, in our day-to-day conversations,” she tells Stylist.
“But what I’m seeing now within relationships, both romantic and non-romantic, is this genuine pressure and concern around how we’re going to live which is forcing us to confront these awkward topics.”
“Society tells us not to talk about money, or the lack thereof, because it’s embarrassing or shameful. We’re taught to keep it private even though it’s a very public thing that impacts all of our relationships in our lives,” she says.
As financial pressure increases, the disparity between how much we earn feels like it’s becoming clearer. Where we might have previously thought ourselves on the same level as the people around us, sky-high inflation and growing energy bills are forcing us to reconsider our economic positions in relation to our friends. And sometimes that means that we can’t afford to do the things that everyone else can.
Naturally, no one wants to be the person who doesn’t come out to meet friends or only buys a Coke, but when so many of us are in precarious money situations, it’s clear: the cost of living crisis is no time for people-pleasing.
“You have to prioritise your own situation and your own financial circumstances,” Williamson advises. “Think to yourself: what am I doing this for? Who am I doing this for? If you’re spending money that you haven’t got because you’re people-pleasing or trying not to let anyone down, you might get into trouble.”
Saying no to plans or asking to rearrange to something more budget-friendly may feel like a negative admission, but Williamson insists that it’s an empowered move.
“When it comes to those uncomfortable conversations, it’s about having that strength and self-esteem to turn any feelings of embarrassment into a sense of pride, because you’re actually standing up for and safeguarding yourself,” she explains.
However, Williamson says that if you don’t want to compromise fully on your social life, you need to be clear about what your priorities are, financial and otherwise.
“It’s all about taking that pause and taking real stock of what’s going on with your life, but also setting an ultimate goal. Do you want to have a plentiful bank account? Do you want to enjoy doing nice things? Is peace of mind and security more important to you? And once you have established that goal, you can look at what needs to change. What adjustments do you need to make? What might you need to sacrifice, either temporarily or permanently, to get there?”
“See that boundary setting as a positive, a gift to yourself that relieves you of unnecessary financial anxiety.”
If you are concerned about money or are struggling with debt, charities like StepChange provide free and impartial financial advice.