Finances are not usually the first thing to come to mind when we think about wellness. However, there remains this undeniable fact: when we struggle financially it places a huge strain on our well-being.
Prior to 2020, research indicated 78% of US workers lived paycheck to paycheck. In addition, that included 1 out of every 10 workers who made six figures. (1) Moreover, three out of four workers are in debt, with the average American household carrying almost $17,000 in credit card debt alone. (2)
When it comes to savings, 61% of people said they would not have the funds to cover an unexpected expense of $400. (3) Most of us are spending every cent we make and are not well situated to thrive in the unexpected.
Average credit card debt
Living paycheck to paycheck: 78%
What Does Financial Wellness Look Like?
Naturally, financial stress takes a toll on mental and physical health. Migraines, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure are just a few of the health effects linked to money concerns. (4) With over 60% of people reporting feelings of financial stress, this is an aspect of wellness that we need to take seriously. (5)
In fact, some aspects of financial health are obvious. Many of us need to manage our spending better. Tools like budgeting, working towards savings and retirement goals, and living below our means are important ways to decrease financial stress.
However, being financially healthy has more to do with just our ratio of income to expenses, or debt to savings.
Over 60% of people report feelings of financial stress.
How We Relate to Our Money Matters
True financial wellness requires a healthy relationship with money. In particular, most of us don’t often reflect on what money means to us and how many of our choices are influenced by money concerns.
It’s tempting to focus a lot of effort on finding ways to have more money. In fact, there is a whole segment of the population who are in need of a fair living wage. And there are also many in the middle who could experience less financial stress by developing a better relationship with money.
What Money Can Buy. And What It Cannot.
To be financially healthy means putting finances in their rightful place. Money is meant to provide stability and insurance against life’s unexpected turns. Consequently, achieving a stable income, building a safety net, and crafting a lifestyle within our means are healthy, worthwhile goals.
Those are the things money can buy. They provide stability from which the rest of life can flow.
While it can be difficult to experience happiness in the midst of financial stress, being financially healthy can only bring us happiness to a point. Money is a means to something else. As a result, it provides us the freedom to seek out true sources of happiness, most of which are not for sale.
Financial health ties with all the other aspects of our overall wellness. Not because it will buy us happiness, but because it can set us free to invest in all the other aspects of life that produce true contentment.