Ask the experts: I feel financially trapped, what can I do?

Many of us have money on our minds but, for some, it’s causing a feeling of being trapped. What can we do about this and how can we take steps towards freedom?

Here we speak to individual and couples counsellor Francesca Amor to learn more. 

What can I do if I feel financially trapped?

I’m unhappy in my relationship, but we live together and I can’t afford to leave. How can I cope?

This could be a tricky situation; the first thing to do is not rush into quick decisions. Is there any chance of you rescuing what is left of the relationship? Maybe couples counselling can help. It could help you rediscover a new relationship with the same partner, or avoid dragging on an unhappy relationship, and find a way to part amicably. Separation and divorce can be costly, so take time and explore your options carefully.

If you cannot leave yet, try to divide spaces in the house. You could sleep in the guest room or rearrange beds. Be sure to discuss boundaries, who is in charge of what, what the expectations are, and how to live comfortably in the same house. 

And in the darkest moments, remember that it is not forever, but just temporary.

I currently live at home with my parents. I am saving to move out but it feels a long way off, and I’m craving space. How can I make staying here more manageable?

If you are lucky enough to stay with your parents to be able to save money for a deposit, try to make the most of it. Of course, staying with parents as we become adults can be very challenging – they may still consider and treat us like children, no matter our age. 

The secret to being treated like adults is to behave like one. Volunteer information, instead of having a barrage of questions from them. Contribute to things like house chores, buy some of your food (especially if you have different tastes), and maybe even treat them sometimes. Stay in when they are out, and go out when they are in. Join a gym, a course, or a class in the evening. Do not lose your focus: you are there to save money to be able to move and have a better start in life. Be positive, it will happen.

Work feels really tough right now, but I need the salary and am struggling to find an alternative. How can I keep going while I job hunt?

When you start to look for a job, scrolling through job ads, talking to recruiters and doing interviews, you are already moving forward. Even if you do not have an offer on the first or second application, or you haven’t found what you’re looking for yet, do not give up. It takes time to get the right job. You might even want to consider a change of career. It will take more time, some training, but if you believe in it, it will happen. It is a process of patience and planning, taking one step at a time. 

In the meantime, find other things to do outside of work, find new hobbies and interests – something rewarding that you are passionate about. Think about your current job as a transaction: skills and time in exchange for money. It allows you to pay for your bills, food, holidays, and job hunting.

Francesca’s top three reminders for those feeling trapped:

  1. Be patient, and do not rush into decisions.
  2. Planning is the key. It could take time, but you will get where you want to be.
  3. Get help if you can from experts, possibly more than one to have a wider choice.

Feeling trapped is a horrible feeling to experience, but it is a phase in your life, and it will get better. Try to break targets into smaller ones, making them easier to achieve. Try also to live one day at a time, as thinking too much ahead could generate anxiety.

This article was originally published in Happiful Magazine (Issue 68 2022). You can order print copies online, or read the e-magazine for free on the Happiful app

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Counselling Directory and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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