The Herald's Cooking the Books personal finance podcast is here to get you the tips you need to weather the financial storm. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new money expert featured on each episode.

In the money world, people often talk about the "sleep at night" test.

They're usually talking about investments, saying that each person will be able to handle a different level of risk before they start losing sleep at night.


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Everyone agrees that even if it's a good investment, no money is worth losing sleep at night if you personally aren't comfortable with it.

But times are different, and more stressful, now. All of a sudden, the sleep at night test applies to everything to do with our money.

If you're worried about your job, your debt, how you'll pay your bills or provide for your family, you could soon find yourself awake at 3am, staring at the ceiling. That's no way to live.

While the stress can paralyse you, you have to break the possum in the headlights response as soon as possible. Because even taking small steps will make you feel more in control, and reduce your stress levels.

On this week's Cooking the Books podcast I talked to Money Mentalist Lynda Moore. She said worries could easily spiral out of control, so the first step was writing a list of everything worrying you.

"No matter how small it is, or whether it's finance related, just anything that is worrying you and causing you stress at the moment.

"Then take a coloured pen, and go through it and cross off everything that is out of your control.

"We can't control what happens, in a national way, when we come out of lockdown. But we can control what we do in our own little home and our own backyard.


"The same thing with our finances. We can look at, what can we control?"

Moore says pulling the worries out of your head and putting them on paper will reduce your stress.

It reduces again when you take action on the things you can, so Moore recommends looking at your list and deciding on your next best step, even if it's just a small change.

I couldn't agree more. If you're stressed about bills, going through regular bills and then looking for a better deal can be a positive, empowering experience.

Power, internet, insurances - they all tend to lure you in with great deals as a new customer, then promptly forget about you.

You can slash some of these in half by checking price comparison websites, or asking what their competitors will offer you.


Even if it's as small as $20 a week, if you knock $20 off each weekly bill, you could soon be savings hundreds a month.

Now you feel clever and you've reduced the money stress, from something that was a fairly small action.

Moore also recommends looking at what you haven't been able to spend on during lockdown, and only bringing back the things you've really missed.

That way you cut out some bigger costs too.

"I've also been doing some decluttering, and I've got quite a big stack of stuff that fits into 'I don't want this but someone might, and they might be prepared to pay me some money for it' category," Moore said.

"[These tactics] take you out of that fight, flight, or freeze mode, and into the fourth aspect, which is actually facing things."


Listen to the full interview on the Cooking the Books podcast. You can find new episodes on Herald Premium, or subscribe on iHeartRadio, Apple podcasts app, or Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.