Finance and wellness may seem like two terms that are worlds apart. Considering the amount of stress that financial strain can put on anybody, they should actually be more closely considered than most people think. Just like going for a physical check-up, or prioritising self care for your mental health, financial wellness should also form part of a balanced wellness routine. With so few of us having been taught what financial wellness looks like (especially so in a world where money is so easily attached to self worth), it’s worth looking at some of the ways to put us on the path to get there. Is achieving financial wellness possible for everybody? No matter what you earn every month, just by living within your means, absolutely.
Start with the Right Attitude Towards Money
What are your thoughts and general attitude around money? If you’ve never taken the time to think about it, it may be more restrictive than a way to encourage abundance. Sure, we’ve all had to make concessions due to the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic. This is less about a short-term view of money, and more what it represents in your life as a whole. A good attitude involves seeing money as a tool to help you achieve the things that are important to you, to support the dreams of the people you love, as well as to guarantee some security for you once you’ve retired from work.
Reflect on Recent Changes in your Life
Once you’ve started to change your thinking about the role money plays in your own life, it helps to spend some time pondering some of the recent major changes in your life. You may have gone through a job change, ended a long-term relationship, or simply needed to pay unforeseen expenses related to medical care or car admin. By acknowledging these changes and short-term setbacks, it’s possible to start the process of moving forward once again. Once you get here, it will be possible to start realigning your short-term financial goals with broader aims pointing directly to your dreams once again.
Review Your Income and Expenses
A good place to take charge of your financial wellness is to set aside some time to take a long, hard look at all of your income and expenses. How much typically comes in every month, after tax? What are your monthly expenses that are fixed (like rent, internet and subscription services) and variable (eating out, entertainment, and so forth) and are you up to date on these payments? If you have any investments, it’s worth doing a status update on how they are doing, so you know exactly what you are working with. The same goes for debt. Do you know how much you owe, if anything? Knowing the full amount makes it more palatable, no matter how frightening it may seem at first.
Start a Fresh Budget
Keenly aware of exactly what you’re working with, and staying gentle with yourself by keeping recent major changes in your life in mind, it’s time to create a fresh budget. Make a new template and add some colour to it too. List all your income and expenses in two separate columns, so you get a sense of exactly what is left over at the end of the month. Do what you can to set aside anywhere from 10 - 30% of your earnings for savings, where possible. If you’ve got any debt, skip the savings for now and keep working to get it right down to zero. It may take a while, but always remember that no savings account is ever going to outgrow the interest (18.5%+) on a credit card, so focus on getting out of your debt first.
Prioritising Your Finances Moving Forward
Geared and ready, you should aim to increase your savings contribution gradually as your debt decreases and your earnings increase every year. Start an emergency fund for accidents and unforeseen expenses, which will ideally (eventually) have 3 to 6 months salary that is easy to access. Get some extra help and advice to solidify your new goals and to put a plan together for your specific goals and needs.
Although it may seem like a lot to process, financial wellness can be summarised as living within your means, and planning for your future. A couple of monthly check-in’s and a bit of discipline now will end up paying off in a big way down the line when your savings start compounding. Anybody can achieve financial wellness, no matter how much they take home at the end of the month. Slow and steady wins the race, so don’t be tempted by sprinting towards the latest trend or bandwagon investment. If you need a bit of encouragement just to start the process, let’s chat about it during a coaching session in the near future.