Dimensions of Wellness: Financial Wellness
Updated: Jan 13
#StressManagement #SelfCare #SelfNurturing #Wellness #WellnessDimensions #WellnessWheel #FinancialWellness
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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.