Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Money problems make most of people in Northern Ireland unhappy

BY CLAIRE GRAHAM

Struggling with finances is the biggest worry for people in Northern Ireland, a new poll has revealed.

The new survey found money problems make us most unhappy with 49.4% putting it at the top of our woes.

The National Lottery Good Causes poll in conjunction with Lucid Talk surveyed 1,210 people.

With financial strains on families and growing presence of food banks across Northern Ireland, the statistics confirm a much feared sign of our times.

Economic pressure even topped poor health, with one in five admitting illness was the biggest contributor in bringing them down.

Advice NI money project manager Sinead Campbell said money is often at the root of sleepless nights.

"Especially coming up to Christmas people can be in denial," she said. "Mortgages, credit cards, payday loans combined with cutbacks and recession – people really aren't making ends meet."

"It has a knock-on effect onto personal lives, as well as mental and physical health.

"We have people coming in with worry on their faces, some break down in tears in their first interview or consultation.

"Some are out of their wits with worry, ready to hand back the keys to a house they can't afford and walk away.

"We can offer so many options so you know you don't have to face tough finances on your own.

"We know it can be difficult for people to admit they aren't coping but the solutions we can provide can help manage what may feel like a crisis situation."

On the other end of the spectrum, there are encouraging signs that the activity which makes us happiest is absolutely free – spending time with our families.

Our research confirms the true path of happiness is paved by our loved ones in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Telegraph poll found more than half feel spending time with their children or family plays the biggest part in being happy.

Spending time with loved ones beat exercise-fuelled endorphins (7.1%), watching your sports team win a game (6.3%) and heading out to work (13.6%) to top spot.

The second most popular answer with 15.6% was going out for dinner with family and friends.

Mindwise acting chief executive Anne Doherty said it is not surprising family-time came so high in the poll.

"I think this shows that quality time with the family is worthwhile – for those who are fortunate enough to have relatives around them," she said.

"Everyone has their ups and downs and we all need people to interact with.

"Family members can be there to help or give us a pat on the back when we need it."

One in 10 people said they didn't know what contributed to their good moods.

When asked how many hours a day do you feel happy, our respondents revealed it's more often than not that they don't.

Our top two answers were 'a few hours' (27.2%) and more worrying, 'rarely' (22.9%).

For advice on managing money contact Debt Action NI Freephone: 0800 917 4607, text 'ACTION' to 81025 or visit www.debtaction-ni.net.

BACKGROUND

The weather is often cited as one of the main reasons people get down in the dumps, but this latest poll found otherwise. Known for our drizzly weather and grey skies, the bleak climate doesn't seem to bother us as much as you would think given all our complaints. Colloquial moans over 'fierce mild' conditions appear to be more of a talking point rather than a real gripe. Only 4% said the weather dampened their spirits.

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