How Your Financial Health Fits into Your Overall Wellness
Article contributed by Sarah Nix, 3Rivers Contact Center Representative.
We often talk about and focus on our physical health, mental health, and emotional health: how we’re faring socially, at home, and at work. Sometimes, we even seek out specialists for these areas of our lives in order to check in on the status of their health and seek ways to improve upon them. One area we often overlook? Our financial health!
Let’s think of it this way: every well-balanced salad has just the right amount of ingredients from top to bottom and edge to center, and fills the bowl with all sorts of healthy and mouth-watering ingredients, leaving us full, fulfilled, and nourished. Every ingredient comes together to make up the whole of the bowl proportionately—sometimes with us making a few alterations here or there to fit our specific tastes (needs).
Yes, we’re likening all the parts of our personal wellness to the ingredients of a big, healthy salad rather than pieces of a sweet and sugary pie! With that imagery in mind, some of the “ingredients” that make up our overall personal wellness bowl are physical, social, mental, occupational, emotional, and finally, financial. It’s good to watch our diet, exercise, go to work, maintain relationships, be happy, and to be able to effectively manage our finances—as nearly all of these aspects directly relate to or affect another. And each “ingredient” of our lives adds to the unique complexities that make up the whole of who we are.
What does financial wellness mean to you?
So, there are plenty of trustworthy resources out there for those many other areas of our well-being, and we encourage you to seek those out as well, but today, we’re talking about one key ingredient we know all about: financial wellness.
What exactly does financial wellness look like? How do you know when your finances are in good and healthy standing? How do you know when your finances are proportionate to the other parts of your wellness to ensure a well-balanced life?
This answer is going to be slightly different for everyone, as financial wellness and financial freedom mean different things to everyone—and no one is on the same exact path or working toward the same goals when it comes to their finances. But there are some ways to look at your current state to determine how you’re faring.
An example balancing your financial wellness into your current situation and future goals.
For example, a key life stage for many that directly impacts finances is going to college. Let’s look at the breakdown of three fictional students and how they choose to balance their finances into the rest of their personal wellness:
STUDENT A: This student wants to own a home and grow a family one day. They decide to stay home while going to community college and working part time to build an emergency savings and take proportionate amounts of money to invest for their future a little early on. Because of the extra funds they receive working part time, this student is able to make regular car payments to help build a solid credit history and improve their credit score. This student still borrows student loans to fund their education and knows how much they’ll owe after graduation, but portions out a little bit each month to have some fun with friends responsibly. After all, this student needs to socialize!
STUDENT B: This student decides to go away to school and live on campus. They borrow funds for mostly everything, but know what is expected after graduation to pay off their loans. They know exactly how much and for how long they’ll have to pay. They have plans to work smart in their career later on so they start making connections and building relationships at their university and through the organizations they’re involved with. This student is very focused on the future and makes the decision to not work while going to school so they can invest themselves fully in their education and graduate on schedule.
STUDENT C: This student has been in the workforce for some time now, but is going back to school with plans to move up in their career. They have a family and have been diligent to build an emergency savings for up to 6 months of expenses for the family. They decide not to dip into the emergency funds for school, but take out a reasonable student loan as they’ll be working full-time while attending night and online classes. This student wants the best for their family now and in the future.
As you can see, each students’ financial decisions are driven by their primary personal wellness focuses—Student A wanting to stay on top of their finances and avoid debt for a successful future, Student B focusing on their post-graduation plans and career goals, and Student C continuing to support their family while going to school. Each of their financial wellness “ingredients” are “flavored” by their:
- Motivation for spending or saving.
- Learning about how student loans work.
- Investing in their futures.
- Establishing emergency savings.
- Their decision to work or not work while attending school.
- Minimizing risks—financially or otherwise—in relation to attending school.
As life situations change, or other personal wellness factors come into play (medical emergencies, shifts in family or work obligations, and more), these students might have to step back and re-evaluate how they’re balancing their time, money, and energy in order to get the perfect, healthy mix.
How is your financial health currently? How would you like to improve upon it? Let's check in!
So, depending on where you’re currently at in other areas of your life can greatly impact the state of your finances. You may need to add a little more of this or take away a bit of that in order to keep things balanced as the many other factors that make up who you are change over time.
And we’re here to help with just that! Just like you check in with your family doctor, therapist, or dentist regularly (and especially when you’re feeling something is off), you should feel confident in doing the same with your financial partner.
We’d love to get a pulse on your current financial state and see if there’s anything we can do together in order to improve upon it, or prepare for what’s to come! Our financial wellness conversations are a low-pressure, no-cost way to check in on your financial health.
- Here are some questions we may ask, or topics that could be brought up to get the conversation going:
- On a grade scale, how would you grade your financial state currently?
- What does your current financial situation look like?
- Are there any areas of your finances that you’d like to improve upon at this time?
- How do you imagine your future in 5, 10, or 20 years? What big life events are coming up for you or your family?
With these basic questions, we can work with you to help you decide what next steps to take toward reaching your money goals. And even better? We’re always here for routine check-ins to keep your finances healthy and growing. Let's talk!