4 Steps to Better Financial Well-Being
Our financial well-being can have a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. In fact, 48% of employed adults report dealing with financial stress. 20% of employees report personal financial issues as being a distraction at work. In addition, personal debt and financial strain may also be linked to mental health issues, depression, alcohol abuse and more.
No matter your financial situation, we have some practical ideas that can help improve your financial well-being.
The first part of any spring cleaning project is to assess your current assets. Step one: gather your data. Collect any bills, statements, or other important paperwork and organize them by category. Try segmenting out based on financial statements.
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Loans (e.g. mortgages and/or car loans)
- Bills (e.g. utilities and/or child care)
- Credit cards
- Other, specific to you
You now have an idea of your overall financial picture. Now, you need a process. Step two: set up a tracking process that you can manage throughout the year. Sign up for a free online personal finance management tool such as Mint.com or Yodlee.com. These websites allow you to consolidate your online accounts and pool together all your financial information into one big picture, outlining your income, spending, savings, debt, net worth, and more.
Step three: make goals. Stick with the SMART method by making them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Start with your long-term financial goals. Where do you want to be in 5 and 10 years? Do you want to own a home? Do you want to pay off your debts? Look at your long-term goals and break those down into smaller, manageable short-term goals. What has to happen in the next year to start you on the path toward your long-term goal? You may need to meet with a financial adviser or credit counselor. If you have not already, create an emergency fund and establish a monthly budget.
Step four: make a plan. What do you need to do each week to meet your financial goals? You may want to set up a strict budget or provide yourself with guidelines, rules, or strategies. Create the plan that works for you! Some great examples include: “I will give myself $100 to spend on dining out this month” or “I will deposit $25 every week to my emergency fund account” or “I will drink the free coffee at work instead of stopping at the coffee shop every morning.”
Just like other goals, each effort adds up. Remind yourself of your goals by keeping them posted in a prominent place. Enlist the help of friends and family to keep you accountable. By simply having an understanding of your financial picture, you can boost your mental and emotional well-being.