Savings Week is a chance to take stock of our financial wellbeing

The act of putting money aside is a commitment that can bring a sense of financial confidence and have a positive impact on emotional wellbeing
Darina Armstrong

LIKE the first step in any journey, making a start on your savings can so often be the hardest part. For whatever purpose, the act of putting money aside is a commitment that can bring a sense of financial confidence whilst also having a positive impact on emotional wellbeing too.

Progressive Building Society's fourth annual Northern Ireland Savings Week (September 20-25) is an opportunity to take stock of this link – between money and mind – to ‘Open Up' and start on a journey towards better financial health and wellbeing.

Earlier this year, the Consumer Council's 2021 consumer insights survey found that only half (54 per cent) of people in Northern Ireland say they always have money saved for a rainy day. And we've had plenty of those over the past 18 months. But good savings habits are not just for the rainy days, it's also about the increased appreciation of the comfort and security that a savings pot can provide.

It has been an abiding passion of mine and indeed, the whole team at Progressive, to encourage people of all ages across Northern Ireland to help change the savings culture in here and look at different ways to establish healthy savings habits.

As a result of the pandemic, depending on their circumstances, many people's lives have changed dramatically. Such was the ripple effect of Covid-19 that the vital pillars of employment and finances, were brought into sharp focus placing many people in communities across Northern Ireland under considerable strain.

That's why we have chosen to focus on the topic of mental health this year and, more specifically, the link between financial and mental wellbeing. We want to help raise awareness of the benefits and importance of saving on a regular basis, and to encourage people to not only think about saving, but prioritise it, and begin to consider the positive change it can bring to their lives.

It's fair to say that money isn't always the easiest topic to discuss, but we want to change that, after all, savings and finances affect everyone, and most people will face some sort of financial challenge or unexpected expense at some point in their lives.

Action Mental Health's goal is to smash the stigma of mental illness for all sections of the community, which is something that really resonated with us for Savings Week and our hope is to encourage people to open up. If you're experiencing financial worries or would like advice on how to better manage your money there are also a range of places you can look to for help, including the Consumer Council, Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Service.

The impact money worries can have on our mental health is real and can affect us across so many different aspects of our lives. It's for this reason we are drawing attention to the link between financial and mental wellbeing this year by encouraging people to open up and improve their wellbeing in the long term.

:: Darina Armstrong is chief executive of Progressive Building Society

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