Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: advice for tough financial times

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Money is tight for most people right now, so here’s a few words of advice you might hopefully find helpful.

Hello and welcome to Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters, our little bit of the Film Stories site where we talk about mental health and wellbeing.

If you’ve not read one of these pieces before, it’s a place where we write about things that may be affecting you, us, or people around us. We work on simple rules: not every article we run is going to be of use to everyone, but hopefully across this series, there’s something that’s of use to you. And also, comments are very welcome, and appreciated.

This week, we’re handing over to the brilliant Sarah, who wants to talk about, well, we’ll let her tell you…


I would also like to see the money. I’m not convinced it exists, for a great many of us.

Let me reassure you; I’m not about to rant about politics, pandemics, or a thing called ‘Brexit’. We all have our own opinions and financial settings to deal with. But I want to acknowledge that times are hard, right now, and everyone is feeling the pinch somehow. I’m here to say hold on.

As a woman of [redacted age], I’ve lived my entire life in poverty. I won’t pretend it’s easy but I have learned a few small tips to make ends meet that may just help some of you stretch your funds during this transitional period.


Buy own-brand or value ranges. Admittedly that works better with non-perishables, but sometimes needs must. And, occasionally there will be a difference in taste, but you find that even between branded competitors.

Purchase reduced meats and other items that can be frozen. It’s cheaper as the food has reached its date, however once frozen it lasts much longer. You can even portion the food prior to freezing so you only use the necessary amount when needed, reducing waste.

Batch cook, portion, and freeze meals. Do you live alone, but cook for an army? Brilliant – think of all those additional days you can feed yourself. And because it is pre-cooked it only needs reheating, saving in preparation time.

Bulk buys and offers are also a good idea for essentials. But be sure they are worthy offers, as sometimes the bright labels distract from true savings.


Self-explanatory. Any items still in good condition but no longer needed can be sold or swapped for other items of similar value that you do need. It also reduces the amount of waste being put into the world, so bonus.


Another self-explanatory one. Charity shops, online markets, and hand-me-downs can be an absolute blessing.

I have donated to, worked in, and bought from charity shops; believe me when I say you can get some amazing bargains and sometimes find items you never expected. Like the almost new games console sold for £75 (including games), or the vintage wedding dress originally purchased for thousands that sold for £120.


Penny boxes. Savings accounts. A (trusted) friend or relative who can look after your ‘spare’ money.

Reduce subscriptions. I recently downgraded my Netflix and saved £5 a month, which sounds minimal, but now buys one extra bus ticket per month.

Wish lists. My Amazon wish list contains items for my home, food, and more. People are welcome to buy items from the list knowing it’s needed and within their price range.

D.I.Y. (No, really.)


And most importantly, I strongly advise you avoid taking out any loans, though it may be tempting. Avoid loans from unregistered companies or those with extortionate interest rates. Even recognised loans (such as via DWP) require repayment, so never take a loan you cannot afford to repay.

If finances become too hard to deal with there are organisations who can help, such as Citizens Advice Bureau who can point you in the direction of more specific help.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Never be ashamed of needing food banks. Never be embarrassed of wearing second-hand clothes. Times are hard for us all, but stigma holds many people back from some rather obvious solutions. And remember, some of us were raised like this… and we’ve survived. I have faith you can survive this slight blip in your story’s plot.

Hold on. You got this.

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