Cost of Living Crisis Support: More Than Just Financial Education



We are witnessing scaremongering that is pop culture, news, and the like putting fear into people, about the state of the economy. The common rhetoric suggests that all we can do is cut back on expenses, prepare to be broke, and be ready to have a horrible time.


Cutting back on expenses and sitting tight is not going to help people get through this time and will not help maintain a good mental state.


We are in tough times, we have the recession, Ukraine, and politics... but we must be aware of the influence that our environment, social norms, and bad news have on how we feel and our general financial well-being. The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) held a virtual conversation with exceptional leading behavioural scientists and economists, discussing just this.


They highlighted some great points, some of which I've summarised below:


🔹The cost-benefit analysis someone carries out ahead of making a decision (such as whether to take out credit for the new fridge or buy it outright) is much harder due to the longer horizon involved, no one knows what's going to happen tomorrow.


🔹Our feelings of uncertainty and ambiguity are magnified as it seems our government do not know how to fix things. The saliency of the financial struggle in the news also instills fear in us.


🔹During the conversation, the importance of socialisation was raised. We know that loneliness can be dangerous for our health. This conversation was held during the Covid-19 lockdown, but with things becoming more expensive, this is a reality for many.


Pumping out doom and gloom is so damaging. Simply telling people to cut back and sit tight, removes agency and self-efficacy - which is so crucial for people to take action during these times.


Focus on more than just cutting back on the grocery shop


Considering the enormous developments in understanding what influences human behaviour (the vast research in behavioural science, psychology, sociology, and economics), it is unfortunate that support during this time is not built on top of this.


Summary of the support we should provide to staff

#1 - Easy-to-Access and Use Resources

Access to the right recourses is important. If you are supporting beneficiaries or employees, remember you are dealing with people who have their own internal battles, biases, and limitations - make access to support easy. Providing easy access to tools, solutions, and private financial support removes the friction to gaining the required knowledge. Be creative about how the information is provided, think in-person workshops, private clinics, audio clips, and mobile notifications, with immediately actionable tasks.


#2 - Cultivate Normality About the Conversation of Money

Unfortunately, money talk is still taboo. We're approaching our annual Money Talk Week, which this year has a focus on credit (very fitting). You are wasting your time if you are providing access to financial resources but not encouraging an environment that is open, safe, and welcoming about money conversations. Money conversations create space for people to relate, connect, and learn - often the solution to a money problem can be solved by speaking with someone else.


#3 - Raise Awareness About the Influence of the Environment

We are a product of our environment. The people we speak to, the workplaces we spend most of our time, and the noise we watch on TV. Many are not aware of this fact. For any financial wellness program to stick and have a significant impact, the learners need to be aware of the influence their surroundings have on their financial behaviours. This fosters confidence and encourages positive behaviour change.


#4 - Support the Building of Self-Awareness and Reflection

Finally, although really this is should take place first, financial well-being programs must include time for the learner to reflect and become self-aware of their own habits, biases, and behaviours. What we do with our money, is a result of our daily thoughts, feelings, and actions. Many of the people I work with want to save, invest, buy a house, etc. but cannot understand why it isn't happening - it is usually because they are not aware of the thoughts, feelings, and actions that hinder their chances of succeeding.


#5 - Build Solutions with the Audience in Mind

With a nod toward neurodiversity, personal circumstances (are they parents, for example?), and access to technology, spend time understanding the circumstances of the audience. A client I am working with at the moment is spending time creating a financial solution for their staff that considers the employees' limited access to laptops - my heart flutters with happiness. If you truly are determined to provide financial support during this time, make the effort to ensure that what you provide will be received and digested.


Cost of Living Workshop

Mind Over Money is providing a Cost of Living workshop to employees as the first step to support staff and service users. The focus of the session includes the psychological, behavioural, and economical factors influencing one's financial decisions, and equips attendees with the skills and confidence required during this time.


Summary

Some of the most transformational parts of my work are witnessed at the point that the client realises that they are capable, have access to what they need, and the solution is within reach. Notice, this is not when they are told what a zero percent credit card is - a concept that is unfamiliar to many people.


Recap:

  • Easy-to-Access and Use Resources

  • Cultivate Money Talk Normality

  • Raise Awareness About the Influence of the Environment

  • Support the Building of Self-Awareness and Reflection

  • Build Solutions with the Audience in Mind

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If you enjoyed this article, please do let us know in the comments. We are open to suggestions and welcome ideas about other topics to discuss.


If you would like to stay in touch with us and the work we do on financial inclusion, neurodiversity and financial education, please do get in touch and join our community. We share information about upcoming events and initiatives. We would love to have you.

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This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Mind Over Money assists you in making better economic choices, improving your wealth and building financial confidence. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions

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