Money is often an overlooked part of the health and wellbeing equation, but it is a key component. It is particularly pertinent now that we are all affected by rising energy and food costs, all right on the back of the financial disruption of the coronavirus pandemic. Financial wellbeing is a huge subject and I am no expert, so here I just want to raise awareness of it and provide a few signposts.
The reason that our financial well being is so important is that it affects other key areas of our life: emotional wellbeing, physical health, relationships, our lifestyle and the pace of it, our environment and our life purpose. It can be helpful to know that financial concerns affect almost everyone, whether rich or poor, but it is the nature of the problem that varies with circumstances, whether that is:
How to save/invest wisely
Guilt around spending or inherited wealth
Gifting too much or too little
Seemingly unattainable dreams
Leaving a financial legacy
A good place to start with tackling financial wellbeing is reflecting on your thoughts and feelings about money, for example do you see it as a good thing or a bad thing? Or does it depend on the circumstances? Do you feel shame around money? If so why? Do you talk about money? These are just a very few examples. There are plenty more in The Art of Money: a life-changing guide to financial happiness by Bari Tessler, which takes a the wonderfully holistic approach, and the classic by Barbara Stanny Overcoming Underearning: a five-step plan to a richer life.
The next step is understanding where those thoughts and feelings around money come from. Think back to childhood and your circumstances then. What did your parents ‘teach’ you about money with their behaviour and language, deliberately or inadvertently? How does that play out in your life now? Again, there is plenty more guidance around that in the two books mentioned above.
And does your spending reflect your values? If you are unsure what your values are, think of what you value most, what is most important to you? A value will be linked to an emotional state that you seek to experience or to avoid, so if one of your values is met, you will experience a positive emotion and if it is violated, you will experience a negative emotion. Perhaps list your top ten values. Examples are honesty, integrity, kindness, caring, love, generosity, family, friendships, health, status, justice, beauty, spirituality, peace, etc.
Once you have gained an insight into your relationship with money, you are ready to take the practical steps to address any financial concerns that you have, whether that is logging your spending, arranging debt repayments, saving, investing, writing or updating a will, etc.
Getting clear on your dreams is another part of the picture. What do you want to achieve and by when? Afterall, a dream is a goal without a due date. What financial resources do you need to achieve that goal? What small steps can you start taking now?
I hope this has given you financial food for thought. Other resources to help you digest it, in addition to the books mentioned above, are Financial Recovery: developing a healthy relationship with money by Karen McCall and her Financial Recovery website.