The Well-Being Journal

Money Matters: 7 Simple Steps towards Financial Well-Being

Jennifer Rudloff

Reposted from the Well-Being Wire by MeYou Health

Like it or not, our financial stability can have an enormous impact on our overall well-being, so it’s important to be mindful of the connection between our dollars and our demeanour. As Gallup reported last week, financial worries among Americans rival the concerns from the recession 20 years ago, so the issues are immediate and real. It’s time to start feeling confident and secure about our financial picture, and we’re here to help with that.

When it comes to the numbers game and navigating the rules and regs of money, we defer to the experts. There are several reputable resources out there to help sort through those financial quandaries. For browsing the latest consumer articles and interest rates, Bankerate.com has a wealth of information for folks of all backgrounds. When it comes to knowing your rights and responsibilities regarding debt, identity theft, and general consumer protection, the Federal Trade Commission maintains FTC.gov, a great resource for U.S. citizens. And for those all-important tax questions, why not go right to the source? IRS.gov or the website of your state or city are the best places to find the details you need to tackle your specific situation.

But when it comes to those small, everyday actions to start improving your financial outlook and happiness, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven ideas for simple actions to incorporate into daily life right now—

  • Curb impulse purchases today by taking two deep breaths before buying anything you hadn’t planned on. Think about whether or not you can wait until the price comes down and if you really need the item right now. Impulse purchases can take a bite out of your wallet and act as a kind of self-sabotage, destroying your best intentions to save money. These types of buys can be caused by stress and boredom, and we may not even realize it.
  • Contribute to your emergency fund today, or make a plan to start one if you haven’t already. The Boy Scouts have it right: Be prepared. That means quick access to cash for when the unexpected happens. If you already have one, make a contribution to your emergency fund today — no amount is too small. If you don’t, get one started by finding out where you can open a savings account. A little cushion always feels better than a hard landing.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms of your bank account to avoid paying unnecessary fees. Banks feed on fees. Some banks may even charge customers for things like not updating an address, cashing coins, or simply talking to a teller. But your bank is like any other business you deal with — and the customer is always right! By knowing what you’re paying for and avoiding being hit with fees, you’ll end up with more money in your pocket.
  • Save lunch money by making your lunch at home today or planning to make lunch for tomorrow.Eating out is fun, but it costs real money. A $5 sandwich a day puts you back at least $1,250 a year! And who stops at just a sandwich? Most people spend much more, grabbing extra little goodies or drinks. By keeping that money in your wallet instead of your belly, you’re saving money and increasing your bottom line.
  • Skip tax-time stress: Schedule a time to gather your paperwork long before you file this year. Being organized will not only make filing a breeze, but it will also make it easier for you to claim deductions, which translates to money in the bank. Plus, with everything you need at hand, you’ll be less likely to file late. Filing late can result in owing the taxes themselves plus interest and penalties, so by getting organized ahead of time you’ll save yourself (and your wallet) some trouble.
  • Write down one long-term financial goal that does not involve saving for retirement.Retirement isn’t the only long-term goal we save for. Other big-ticket items include buying a house, paying off debt, saving for a child’s college education, or taking a dream trip. By choosing one long-term financial goal, you can begin to think about when you would like to achieve it. This in turn can help you if you choose to explore savings vehicles, such as CDs or IRAs, or college plans like 529s.
  • Name one treat that you won’t sacrifice. A weekly movie date. Cheery flowers for your windowsill. A monthly dinner out with favorite friends. We all have that small, special something that we buy only because it makes us happy. And that’s OK. Write down one thing you just can’t live without . . . and don’t! Little treats now and then remind you of what’s really of value to you — and why you work in the first place!
Topics: Healthy Living Financial Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Finance Goals Money

Financial Wellness, From Wall Street to Your Street

Jennifer Rudloff

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 34 days, you’re sure to have heard of the movement spreading across the globe dubbed Occupy Wall Street. While the people involved in this movement have yet to rally behind a single purpose, or for that matter have any answers, one thing I think everyone can agree on is the palpable sense of financial and economic frustration our nation is facing.

From Wall Street to your street, our nation is growing more and more negative about personal finances and the national economy. Today, 22% of adults are reporting that their personal financial situation is “poor” -- to contrast, during the official recession reports came in between 16%-19%. Optimism is waning; nearly half (48%) of adults say their financial situation is getting worse. And it’s easy to see why when you look at the trends. A recent article published in USA Today stated that in America, over the past 3 years, median household income fell nearly 10%. With a staggering 77% of people living paycheck to paycheck, millions of Americans are suffering restless nights as they struggle with unemployment, debt, inflation, healthcare costs and basic living expenses.

The September WBI report paints a picture of the current state of our nation—and we’re feeling low. Sadly Americans’ access to basic necessities dropped to it’s lowest point in four years with 20% of Americans reporting they don’t have enough money to buy food. Financial issues alone impact so many other areas of well-being – lack of money means more stress, less happiness, fewer healthy behaviors, skimping on healthcare, and likely discontent with work, which all results in reduced engagement and productivity.

For your organization, helping your people to reduce financial stress can have big rewards— increased engagement, reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity. So how do you help? While it may be tough to find the money to increase wages for your workforce or hire more people, there are steps that can be taken to help your people better manage their money. Getting your people the help they need may start with simply educating them!

At Healthways we recently partnered with Dave Ramsey and conducted a financial wellness pilot with more than 80 of our colleagues. In addition to a series of online lessons, there were also 8 weekly workshops. During the course of the program, participants learned about saving, how to work with family members for financial success, cash flow planning, dumping debt, credit, insurance, purchasing behaviors, investing, bargain hunting, strength utilization, real estate and mortgages, shopping, retirement planning, and more. The result? Our colleagues learned lessons in how to do more with less. Over 13 weeks, participants collectively reduced their consumer debt by more than $174K. Pretty impressive.

Remember, financial stress isn’t only an issue for low-income workers. It impacts people across all age and income demographics. How will you help your people help themselves?

Topics: Financial Well-Being In the News Workplace Well-Being Occupy Wall Street Wall street