How many times have you felt anxiety or stress around one or all of the following situations?
- Having enough cash to cover monthly bills and expenses.
- Checking your bank account after booking a vacation, a night spent out on the town, or even purchasing furniture for your place.
- Noticing your account is lower than usual and not knowing where all the money went that you had two days ago.
- Wondering when and if you’ll ever be able to pay off your debt (like credit card, student loans, mortgage, etc.).
- Losing your job and not having enough cash saved to get you through until you find a new job.
Did you answer yes to any of the above? The good news is: You are not alone.
Seventy-eight percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck External Site according to a 2017 CareerBuilder online survey. Additionally, 61 percent don’t have enough cash External Site stored away to cover a $1,000 emergency as reported by Market Watch. Money struggles even impact some of the highest-paid people in the world — and it’s contributing to poor health and well-being (cough, major stress!).
With stats like these, how does anyone achieve financial fitness?
The short answer: It takes time and practice.
Poor financial fitness = poor overall health and well-being
Think of financial fitness like your diet, exercise, or self-care regimen. When you set aside time every day (even if it’s a little bit!), you’ll be in good shape — no pun intended. But once you start to let your commitment slide, there are a whole host of consequences that can snowball, like weight gain External Site, added stress and anxiety, restlessness and even an increased risk of chronic conditions and diseases.
More than half of the population struggles with setting aside a portion of their paycheck to put toward important items like paying monthly bills and expenses, purchasing groceries, or even making investments.
Poor financial fitness impacts your overall well-being in more ways than one.
- 57 percent believe they don’t have enough money to eat healthy.
- 32 percent believe their finances are a limitation to a healthy lifestyle (like shelling out $100 monthly for a gym membership).
- 20 percent are skipping out on medical coverage due to financial concerns.
- 41 percent believe financial stress impacts their relationships.
- 45 percent believe it leads to missing out on social events.
- 50 percent are spending three or more hours on personal finances at work.
- 46 percent worry about outliving their savings.
- 87 percent say nothing makes them happier than knowing they’re in a good place money-wise.
7 steps to improving your financial fitness
It can be overwhelming to begin tackling financial stresses. By taking it one step at a time, though, you can fine-tune your goals and really understand your spending habits.
- Set goals. When you set goals to reach financial fitness, you also create the foundation for a realistic plan. You’re able to track your progress, which creates accountability and allows you to celebrate the small wins.
- Separate wants from needs. This one can be tricky — especially with the rise of social media. It can be tempting to purchase the latest and greatest. Remind yourself of this the next time you want to make a purchase:
- Is the item something you desire or wish to have? If so, it’s a want.
- Is the item essential and required to live? If so, it’s a need.
- Consider making cuts. Does it seem like every time you get a paycheck, the money magically disappears? A great first step in improving your financial fitness is to understand exactly where your money is going. Consider a free financial app Opens New Window to help you get on track.
- No budging on the budget. If you don’t have a budget, there’s no time like the present to start one. Creating a budget External Site can help you identify (and adjust) where your money goes, ease your worries, put you in control, and allows you to be flexible based on the goals you’ve already defined.
- Build up your emergency fund. We all know life comes with crazy twists and turns — so it’s important that even when an accident or emergency catches you off-guard, you’re prepared to take care of it External Site without fear or stress.
TIP: Use myWellmark® to make sure you choose and use an in-network provider no matter what medical or health emergency comes up.
- Take it day by day. Whether you use one of the free financial apps out there, or write down your day-to-day spending, be patient. It takes 21 days to change a habit, so don’t give up.
- Challenge yourself to a “no-spending” day. While it’s tempting to hit the mall after work, or grab a quick dinner out with the family, set aside one day (or one week if you’re up to the challenge) to cut your spending habits External Site and stay motivated to your saving goals.
Wherever you are in your financial fitness journey, it will take time and practice to achieving your ideal state.
- Aon.com — 2016 Financial Mindset® Study Opens PDF
- Cnbc.com — Americans are more stressed about money than work or relationships—here’s why External Site
- WellAndGood.com — Why financial wellness needs to be on your radar ASAP External Site
- AHealthierMichigan.org — Are money worries affecting your health? 5 steps to take control this year External Site
- Cambridge-credit.org — Financial stress and your health External Site
- ThriveGlobal.com — How financial issues impact your mental health External Site
- Forbes.com — Challenging the myths about financial wellness External Site
- MarketWatch.com — The ‘true state’ of Americans’ financial lives: only 3 in 10 are ‘financially healthy’ External Site
- EverydayHealth.com — How to avoid the health risks that come with financial stress External Site