How the Toucan app can help you get support around money and mental health
Living through a pandemic is not easy, and it’s taking a toll on everyone’s wellbeing. Sometimes when we’re struggling with mental health, it can affect our ability to manage finances. Brain fog and difficulty concentrating, for example, might mean that we avoid opening letters and miss critical due dates. Or we might be tempted to overspend, even if we can’t afford it.
It’s not only that our mental health impacts our finances. Our money situation also affects our mental health. Some of us have lost sources of income due to COVID-19 and may be struggling to make ends meet. Often when funds are low, our mood can be affected.
When times are tough, many of us get support managing finances and mental health with the help of a partner, parent or loved one. Just a quick chat can be all it takes to help alleviate anxiety and relieve some of the burdens, but it’s hard to ask for help. And for our families and close friends, it can be hard to know when best to open up the conversation.
An app to get support
Toucan is an app that can help you get timely support around your finances from someone you trust.
It’s simple. The app connects to your bank account and allows you to set up alerts around your spending, which you can choose to share with a trusted person. It has been featured in Which?, and has the backing of Nationwide Building Society.
When triggered, the alerts get sent to both you and your trusted family member or friend, giving you both an opening to have a friendly, supportive conversation about your finances and your mood.
In a study last year, Toucan users found that the app helped them to have better conversations about money with the people around them. Those conversations helped them get the support they needed to tackle their finances, and reduced their anxiety around money.
How Sarah used Toucan to improve her money and mental health
Toucan’s app has already been used by people living with mental health difficulties in work they did with research charity the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.
Before using Toucan, Sarah, who had experiences of Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and Agoraphobia talked about how she struggled to ask her Mum and sister for help when her finances were getting her down. She often found herself overspending online because of a low mood, and had accumulated debts because she found it challenging to stay on top of her budget.
When setting up Toucan, Sarah asked her sister if she could be her accountability buddy and receive alerts around her spending. Her sister had been supportive of mental health issues in the past and was more than happy to help.
Over time, several alerts got triggered when Sarah spent more than she’d intended to. Every time an alert was triggered, Sarah’s sister picked up the phone or dropped her a supportive text. With every friendly conversation that followed, Sarah was able to develop better financial habits and strategies and felt less burdened with the financial difficulties she was experiencing.
After using Toucan, Sarah felt much better about her finances and had started getting help from StepChange to tackle her debts. She said that using the app with her sister “broke down a lot of anxiety and shame”.
How the Toucan app works
If you want to set up Toucan alerts, the app is available to download on Apple and Android for free.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can connect it to your current account using secure technology, built by your bank. The app then helps you create alerts around your spending, which you’ll receive through text message. For example, you can set up an alert to go off when your balance goes under a certain threshold, or if you’ve gone over your daily budget.
If you want to share these alerts with a trusted family member or friend, you can set them up in the app, and they’ll receive texts, too. For them, the texts won’t be detailed – they won’t ever be able to see your bank balance or how much you’ve been spending. The alert they receive is just a simple nudge to get in touch for a chat.
Where to start
If you’re looking for extra support around your spending during these difficult times, you might want to give Toucan a try.
Before setting up the app, it’s a good idea to speak to the person you’d like to be your accountability buddy first. You might find that just starting the conversation helps you both understand how best to support each other. Of course, talking about money might feel a little awkward, but thankfully Toucan has put together a guide to having these conversations, which you can read on their website.
Over the next few weeks, there’ll be an update to the Toucan app, giving family members and carers better tools to help their loved ones.
Toucan is an app to help you manage your money better, supported by someone you trust. You can read more about them on their website or, if you’re a carer, you can access links to support around COVID-19 in their online guide.
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