The Importance of Financial Health on Personal Well-Being
By Mikkie Mills
Health is traditionally viewed as aspects of the physical and mental state of a person. Good nutrition, adequate exercise, mindful reductions of stress, and a focus on a positive outlook are tied into the idea of wellness. But there is another facet of health that is no less important: financial health. Just as mental and physical health can have positive or negative effects on each other, financial wellness has an impact on both physical and mental states. The University of California, Davis includes financial well-being as one of its eight dimensions of wellness.
Finances Cause Stress
Work can already be a major stressor in life, but money is also a significant cause of stress in ways that can affect home life, social experience, work performance, and desire to engage in previously enjoyable extra activities or hobbies. According to a Huffington Post article on financial wellness in the workplace, 45% of surveyed working U.S. adults said financial dealings were stressful. And for some, that source of stress is a constant worry. The article cites an American Psychological Association survey finding that 72% of adults experience stress at least some of the time about money, and 22% feel extreme financial stress. This level of stress causes health to suffer. Unfortunately, financial distress often goes hand-in-hand with health insurance difficulties. Wealth and health must go together to a certain degree. Handling financial fitness is like handling mental health. Each has a stigma associated to it, and people find that emotional barriers like embarrassment and shame make it hard to even acknowledge a money problem exists.
Financial Stress Reduces Productivity
According to Reuters, studies keep coming in that show money stress can be as detrimental to workplace productivity as the common malady of back pain. A cited survey showed that 40% of 1,600 surveyed working adults in the U.S. ranging between the ages of 21 and 75 stated finances were a distraction at work; 15% missed work because of these problems. Research by Manulife, cited in an article about workplace wellness, showed financial distress not only as harming to employee engagement and productivity as physical and mental health, but is also as prevalent. Four in ten Canadians, according to Manulife's wellness index, are financially unwell because of worry about such considerations as college fees, mortgage payments, and retirement savings.
Employers' Role in Financial Wellness
An article by Forbes suggests that financial wellness is more than the product it is being marketed as by many, but a process whereby employees are engaged and their relationship with money is improved in one or more aspects. Employees with less stress, financial or otherwise, are more productive, healthier, cost less money to the company, and stay longer. Many companies are launching campaigns or programs to assist in financial understanding. Others offer boosts tailored to the demographics of their workforces. The largest private employer in the U.S., Walmart, added a feature for employees to receive advance payroll to avoid the necessity of expensive payday loans.
Steps Toward Personal Financial Wellness
Part of the process of achieving financial wellness is an overhaul of the paradigm. Understanding that happiness is an internal factor, not something that comes in a box or a bank account, is a large step toward personal progress. Starting small is key, both in finances and elsewhere. Pay off the smallest debt first. Tackle easy challenges. Take baby steps before leaping through goals. Try seeking help from entities such as credit repair companies if necessary.
Financial wellness is inextricably tied to overall well-being. There are many steps in achieving this state. Awareness of all the parameters of finances, of expenses and income, taxes and bonuses, is vital. So is the inner gumption to make those necessary changes to shave away excess spending and make more room for saving or paying off debts. A determination for personal development, both in finances and in other areas of life, will help propel stressed people from distressed states to places of peace and wellness.