Financial Wellness: The Next Boost for Your Health
By Alise Jackson, Professional Financial Coach
The past decade has ushered in a holistic perspective to the wellness movement in our society. We seek to improve our life experience in the physical sense and by focusing on aspects such as our emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and environmental well-being. A sometimes missed yet an equally-important element of wellness is that of Financial Wellness.
The “Wellness Wheel,” as depicted here in a version from the Yale School of Medicine, addresses the eight elements of personal wellness:
Financial Wellness entails the following steps:
Identify Your Relationship with Money.
Think back to your childhood; was money discussed in your family? Did you come from an “all-or-nothing” household of scarcity or abundance? As adults, our relationship with money is often stemmed from these memories. Life experiences, and even fear, can form the basis for your personal financial decisions. Your relationship with money may be a balance of the mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects.
In a shared household, it is important for each partner also to understand the other’s relationship with money. Use this conversation as a launching point to strengthen your bond and set the stage for your financial wellness plan.
Level Up Your Financial Literacy.
Financial literacy refers to having the knowledge and skills to make intelligent decisions about your money. There is a strong correlation between financial literacy and financial resiliency: the more financially literate are better equipped to deal with a financial shock such as sudden job loss, extended illness, or a worldwide pandemic than those less financially literate.
A good financial coach can provide you with the education and tools to help you manage your financial resources. You will learn how to get on a budget that works for you and your family, how to pay down your consumer debt as quickly as possible, and how to boost your savings to achieve your future goals.
Understand Your Financial Situation.
Be honest with yourself. Calculate your net worth. Write down ALL of your debt. Know your actual household take-home pay. Track your monthly expenses. Without knowing these things, you really cannot have a clear picture of your financial situation. If you are trying to get somewhere, but you do not know where you are starting from, how will you know the way?
Put Your Knowledge and Tools Into Practice.
Now, take what you have learned and commit to intentionally living within your financial means. Do a budget every month and learn from it. Pay off those student loans that have been around for way too long. Start saving. Care for your financial house as much as you care for your family.
Plan for Your Future.
Be prepared for financial change, both in the short-term and long-term. In the short term, life happens, emergencies happen, and having emergency savings in place can be the difference between an inconvenience and a catastrophe. A good rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses saved for emergencies.
In the longer term, plan to protect your financial health and the financial health of your children. This includes saving for college education(s), saving for retirement, and planning your legacy.
Money is one of the leading causes of relationship stress. By focusing on financial wellness, you can feel in control of your finances, rather than feeling like your finances are out of control. With your spouse/partner (or a trusted accountability partner if you are single), work together to improve your financial wellness and limit the money stress in your home.
Financial coaching offers personalized education, goal-building, and accountability, in a judgment-free zone, no matter where you are in your financial journey.