A few years ago, I went around the country breaking the social taboo about money in the workplace calling it financial wellness. I combined my human resource department's wellness program with my focus on financial education.
Instead of talking about 401(ks) and retirement accounts, I argued about the importance of educating employees on mindset, budgeting, and credit reports. I remember the look of disbelief by the majority of the people in the room. However, they understood how employees couldn't think about contributing to a company's 401(k) plan if they were stressing about paying their rent or utilities.
My main point, back then, was to connect employee satisfaction with their personal financial wellbeing. I argued that if employees were stressed about their finances, then they are bringing that stress into work. It was important to educate employees on how to manage money today and save for tomorrow.
There's no official definition of financial wellness. I define it as doing more of what you love that bring joy into your life. This doesn't mean spending mindlessly. It actually means quite the opposite. Financial wellness is a holistic approach to money and living.
Financial wellness is about your health and wealth. It's about the overall quality of the life you’re living.
On our financial wellness road trips, we learned that people define financial wellness as having enough to live comfortably, experience little financial stress, and time to enjoy life. I believe people can achieve these goals through a shift in mindset, a better understanding of money, access to better banking products, and a supportive community.
My definition: Financial wellness is a state of healthy living through active pursuit of financial knowledge, planning, and goal setting to live your best life.
Living your best life happens when you’re experiencing less financial stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but financial wellness aims to lessen the amount of stress you experience and improve your well-being.
Tools to lessen financial stress and improve well-being
Managing money well and financial planning results in more time to pursue passions that contribute to a greater sense of satisfaction and happiness.
Defining Financial Wellness
Let’s define the words financial and wellness. The word “financial” relates to finances having synonyms: money, banking, and investments. “Wellness” is defined as being in the state of good health as an actively pursued goal. A New York Times article explained the word wellness emerged in 1650 as the opposite of illness. Wellness described a healthy state of living one achieved “without simply avoiding sickness.”
The World Health Organization defines wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
I wanted people to understand that financial success-however you choose to define that success-only matters if you’ve found a balance between money and life. I used the term financial wellness to describe the state of living in which your well-being is measured by the quality of your life, not just by wealth.
Why financial wellness matters to you
We’ve all had moments where money caused a great deal of stress. We either didn’t have much of it or stressing over how to make it grow. These money worries cause stress that impacts how we feel about our lives. Those feelings and thoughts impact our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Financial wellness aims for a healthier outlook on life.
As a lifestyle goal, financial wellness is about managing money today and planning for the future to lessen stress and support a healthier lifestyle.
Many have argued money isn’t important. Money cannot buy happiness. But money does play a significant role in our society. Money is the currency that pays for food, shelter, and medicine. It allows us the basic necessities to survive and the luxuries we enjoy.
The bottom line on financial wellness
Financial wellness isn’t about making millions. I've met a few millionaires living with a great deal of financial stress. When you feel better about your life and finances, you’re less likely to feel financial stress. This supports better physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Your health matters so, therefore, financial wellness matters.
The goal is to achieve financial well-being – a state of healthy living – where you experience less stress related to money. Your outlook on life is positive. And your satisfaction is high. You feel well about where you are and where you’re headed.
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