With the festive season fast approaching, it’s worth remembering that it’s not always – or even often – a chance to relax after a difficult and uncertain year. As the world navigates a high-inflation, high-cost-of-living, low-growth environment, our personal finances are under significant pressure, and this leads to uncertainty, anxiety and stress.
As Denise Neethling, Head of Marketing at Earned Wage Access (EWA) fintech, Paymenow, says: “For many people the joy of holidays and spending time with family is overshadowed by worry about the costs of travel, gifts, and impending back-to-school expenses. The period itself carries additional stresses, including trying to meet familial expectations, travel, and unfamiliar social environments.”
Research by numerous companies shows that people’s mental health during the festive season is negatively affected by financial concerns.
In the UK, a recent poll found that one in ten adults felt hopeless about their financial circumstances and more than a third felt anxious. This is exacerbated by the festive period. A quarter of the UK population finds Christmas the most challenging period of the year, and 54% are worried about the mental health of someone they know at Christmas.
A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that South African suicide rates peaked around the summer holidays, especially amongst those living in less urbanised areas and those in lower socioeconomic categories, which the researchers ascribed to changes in social situations and the influence of the festive season.
A crucial step to reducing stress over the festive season is gaining control over your finances and employers can step in and help their employees by running financial literacy programmes that will assist them in planning for the holiday seasons – drawing up budgets, putting savings plans in place, and ensuring access to emergency funds.
In addition to financial education, employers who feel responsible for their staff as they leave for the December holidays and are concerned about their wellbeing over this period can empower their employees through responsible earned wage access (EWA). EWA can give employees more control over their finances, allow them to plan more effectively, and reduce their stress and anxiety as a result.
In Paymenow’s most recent impact report, 95% of Paymenow users reported feeling more in control of their finances since using the platform, and the same proportion reported reduced stress levels related to their finances. Four out of five respondents reported that their ability to save had improved, allowing them to plan more effectively.
Neethling says, “Paymenow was founded with the premise of restoring the dignity and quality of life for people faced with economic stress by providing them with an alternative solution to high-interest bearing debt, enabling early access to their already earned wages and lessening financial stress and the reliance on debt. It’s important that consumers know there is a tool available to help change the vicious debt cycle they might find themselves in during the festive season and beyond and assist in turning them into financially resilient citizens.”