Updated: Jan 13
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So far in our wellness series we have reviewed physical wellness and intellectual wellness. In this article we will discuss financial wellness. When I think of topics that we avoid discussing at all costs- politics, religion, and sex are among the top. I'd even go so far as to add the fourth area: money. Nothing makes us squirm quite like topics of finances, credit, and debt. The level of angst and uncomfortableness can be likened to walking out naked before the world. The reason? We often times feel embarrassed, thinking that we are worse off than others. Or, for those who are doing well financially, there is the fear of offending or being seen as a braggard.
In their article, "Dealing with Financial Stress," APA cites that approximately 64% of Americans report feeling stressed about money. There are many different causes of financial stress-credit card debt, student loan debt, medical bills, health insurance, inadequate savings, or inadequate income just to name a few. Financial wellness encompasses our individual relationship with money as well as our ability to effectively manage our finances, spend within our means, having access to information and resources necessary to make smart financial decisions.
When we have financial problems, it can lead to stress. This emotional tension tied to money can lead to disruptions in our daily lives, reduces our ability to focus or enjoy life, and can lead to worry. This worry can begin to take a toll on our mental and physical health, our relationships, and can impact our quality of life. We can begin to see weight loss or gain, insomnia, social withdrawal, and physical ailments. Continuing and severe excessive worry can lead to increased negative mental health to include depression and/or anxiety. We cannot ignore this financial strain. We have to tackle our money problems head on in order to ease stress and regain control.
We cannot have any discussion about financial wellness without first starting with the beliefs that we have about money. Why? Because it doesn't matter the plan, the budget, etc. that you may come up with. If you do not have a thorough understanding of your internal thoughts and beliefs about money, you can very easily revert back to the where you were before. How do we know this? Well, most people think that their problems would be eliminated if they just have more money. Yet we see, read, or hear about stories in the news or on social media about people who received a windfall (lottery, inheritance, record deal, sports or entertainment deal) and within a few years they are in financial troubles. More money alone cannot solve our money problems. Money does not solve money problems. Mindset does.
Our beliefs or money scripts are the starting point for our ineffective or self-destructive financial behaviors. Our scripts are unconscious beliefs we developed from our childhood experiences. It's how we've integrated information to survive this unpredictable world. Money scripts are complex in that they contain both truths and falsehoods. We often do not evaluate them therefore never testing their accuracy. Some common money scripts are: "It's important to save. It's better to give than to receive. You're lucky to have something to eat and a place to sleep; think of all the starving children in the world who don't even have that. The rich are shallow, greedy, and unhappy. " The dissonance here is there are some grains of truth to these statements and yet the implied underlying meaning can be harmful causing guilt. Money scripts become automatic, generational, and limit our choices.
The Klontz Money Script Inventory (KMSI) classify our money scripts into four categories: money avoidance, money worship, money status, and money vigilance.
Based on the belief that money is bad, invokes anxiety, and rich people are greedy. May also have an unconscious belief that they don't deserve money. Behaviors may include compulsive buying, hoarding, financial enabling, financial denial, and workaholism.
Based on the belief that money will make you happier or will solve all their problems. Behaviors include compulsive buying, hoarding, workaholism, financial dependence, financial enabling, and financial denial.
Based in the belief that net worth dictates self-worth. Behaviors include compulsive buying, gambling, financial dependence, and financial infidelity.
Based in the belief around discretion and vigilance with money i.e. not telling others how much money you have or make and that money should be saved not spent. Can be a protective behavior as these ones are more likely to not have compulsive buying, gambling, financial enabling, financial denial, and financial infidelity.
The good news is money scripts can be changed but it does require work. Reflecting on what you heard about money while growing up as well as your childhood experiences can help you to begin to identify what money beliefs you have. As always reaching out to coach or therapist skilled in handling disordered thinking around money is a definite plus as well.
This can be completed jointly with your reflections on money. However, to know what you are working with financially, will require you to take inventory of your finances. Here is where the "b" word comes into play. Yes, I know. Budgets often get a bad reputation of being restrictive. However, we have to know the truth of your financial situation if we are going to repair your relationship with money. Prepare a structured budget which will allow you to track your cashflow into and out of your home. Once you see where money is being spent, you can make the necessary changes to balance your financial situation and increase your financial wellness. One of my favorite recommendations on budgeting is the Conscious Spending Plan introduced in Ramit Sethi's, "I Will Teach You to be Rich." In his book, categories of spending are listed as follows:
CATEGORIES OF SPENDING
Fixed costs: Rent, utilities, debt, etc.
50-60% of take-home pay
Investments: 401(k), Roth IRA, etc.
Savings goals: Vacations, gifts, house down payment, cash for unexpected expense, etc.
Guilt-free spending money: Dining out, drinking, movies, clothes, shoes, etc.
I appreciate this spending plan because it reinforces doing something nice for yourself along the away. These positive reinforcers help make it easier to maintain because it reduces the feeling of budgets being too restrictive.
There are two different schools of thought when it comes to debt management. One school is the debt snowball method most often touted by Dave Ramsey. With this method, you will create a list of all debts starting with the smallest. Pay the minimums on all debts and any extra cash goes to the smallest debt. Once the smallest amount is paid in full, then take that extra money and put it towards the next amount in line. Continue the momentum of this snowball until debts are paid. The second school of thought is the debt avalanche method. Start by paying the debt with the highest interest rate. According to the article, "What Is the Debt Avalanche?" the benefit of the debt avalanche is that you’ll spend less in the long run if you settle those high interest balances.
Another important aspect to debt management is having an emergency fund. According to an article on Bankrate:
"Nearly three in 10 (28 percent) U.S. adults have no emergency savings, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index. One in four have a rainy-day fund, but not enough money to cover three months’ worth of living expenses."
It is recommended that your emergency fund has at a minimum three to six months expenses. In order to begin this journey, you must pay yourself first. It is so tempting to pay all other expenses and then try to sock away savings from whatever is left over. However, determine your percentage (whether it is 5 or 10%, you decide) and automate your accounts to transfer this amount at designated intervals (monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, etc.). Fix it and forget it.
Complete a budget. This way you have an accounting for every dollar you spend. You can see what may need to be cut (i.e. subscriptions to apps or services you don't use or duplicate what you already have). Having an emergency fund prevents you from needing to use credit cards or take out expensive loans to handle life's emergencies thus lowering debt.
Increase Income Streams
It would be remiss to not mention the elephant in the room, lack of income or resources. We cannot pay debts off or save if there is no expendable income. Sometimes poor financial decisions are the culprit. Other times, the reality is the income amount we have just isn't sufficient due to being underpaid or even due to inflation and increasing cost of living. There are many different ways to earn extra money. You can sell your stuff on eBay or Amazon, baby-sit, dog-sit, house-sit, bake goods, wash and detail vehicles, perform yard work, start a YouTube channel, start a blog, monetize TikTok or Instagram, create jewelry, design T-shirts, drive for Uber or Lyft, become an Instacart affiliate, or complete Doordash assignments to name a few. If you have a skill, you can freelance on Fiverr or start your own side business. I will share below a few of the ways I have earned extra money below (and yes affiliate links are to follow and any support is greatly appreciated!).
Swagbucks: Companies desperately want your opinion, and they are willing to pay for it. Swagbucks rewards members with free gift cards and cash for the everyday things they already do online. You can earn Swagbucks (SB) for shopping in-store or online, watching entertaining videos, playing games, searching the web, answering surveys, and finding great deals to earn points. You can then redeem your points for gift cards to your favorite retailers like Amazon or Walmart, to name a few, or get cash back from PayPal. To try it out, use my Swagbucks referral link to get started; if you sign-up using my link, we both will earn a bonus 300 SB. https://www.swagbucks.com/lp-savings-button?cmp=695&cxid=swagbuttonref&rb=8449882&extRefCmp=1&extRb=8449882
PayPal: It can be used for more than just sending money to friends or paying businesses for goods and services. I can't say for sure how long this program will last, but as of the writing of this article you can log into PayPal and refer friends, family, and others to their platform. If you sign up using my PayPal referral link, we both can earn $10 when you sign up and spend $5. There is a limit of 10 referrals per year. https://py.pl/z7jJR
Venmo: A service of PayPal, Venmo is also used for sending money to friends or paying businesses for goods and services. And like PayPal, as of the writing of this article you can log into Venmo and refer friends, family, and others to their platform. If you sign up using my Venmo referral link, we both can earn $5 when you sign up and spend at least $5 within 14 days of joining. https://get.venmo.com/RvBDOQRIKob
Chase: Yes, I have included a credit card (which is debt I know but bear with me). There is a responsible way to use a credit card. Personally, I use my Chase credit card to pay things I already have to pay for each month (gas, grocery, car insurance, cell phone bill, etc.) Rather than use cash or checks, I pay my bills with my credit card. Why is that? Cash back rewards. With my particular card, I earn 1% cash back for all purchases. Every quarter, I can earn 5% cash back on bonus categories selected by my card company. If you sign up using my Chase referral link, I will earn $100 if you get approved for a card. There are also perks for you. Select the card that fits your lifestyle and you in turn can earn $200 when you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from opening an account. https://www.referyourchasecard.com/18a/WANNFLDT9T
Coinbase: The leading cryptocurrency exchange for you to build your portfolio, earn yield and stay up-to-date on crypto news. With over 89 million users across 100+ countries worldwide. Coinbase allows you to securely buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies on their easy, user-friendly app and web platform. Coinbase also provides crypto news and articles to help users stay up-to-date on the latest news and build their crypto knowledge. If you sign up using my Coinbase referral link, we both will end $10 in bitcoin when you buy or sell $100 or more on Coinbase. https://coinbase.com/join/griffi_zkf
I have not yet used this next method but I am eager to try it out.
Fiverr: Temp services on the net. Fiverr empowers entrepreneurs to connect with pros who can help them do more with less. If you sign up using my Fiverr referral link, we both can get up to $100 when you complete your first order. http://www.fiverr.com/s2/452e280e95
l haven't broke the bank with any of these methods but they have all helped out in a pinch to increase my cash flow towards savings or guilt free spending (see budgeting table above).
Though the focus of this article is finances, it is just as important to maintain a stress reduction routine as you rehab your finances. Financial stress management also means we are doing things to minimize stress such as getting proper sleep, exercising, eating healthy, practicing deep breathing, expressing ourselves creatively, and regularly communicating with loved ones or engaging in social outlets.
Thank you for sticking around to the end. We hope we have provided you with something useful as you embark on your wellness journey. What are your takeaways from this article? Are there any opportunities you plan on signing up for? How about your personal income strategies? What is currently working for you? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Again, as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"Fortune favors the bold." ~Terence
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