Guide to Beginning Financial Wellness
by Ebony Johnson
Whenever I think about wellness, I typically associate it with mental health services or physical activities. There are even occasions where emotional or spiritual wellness takes center stage. However, financial wellness is rarely a part of my initial thinking. For a period of time, the only financial activity I engaged in was adjusting monthly budgets and paying my bills on a biweekly basis. Over the past few years, I’ve thought a great deal about my financial goals and found that a lot of healing was in order. Here are a few steps I recommend to get started:
Step 1: Assessing Your Relationship with Money
Mindset is crucial in any decision one makes. One can write down all the financial goals they’d love to see manifest in their life but without assessing your relationship with money, it can be challenging. I’ve had to work on adopting a growth mindset when it comes to my finances and financial capability. I’ve also evaluated my limited beliefs, targeted where they may have stemmed from and try to create new narratives. This is still a work in progress because unlearning tightly held ideas takes time. I consider this a good first step in exploring financial wellness, however, like most journeys, I don’t think it is linear. Like all relationships, your relationship with money will change over time. I highly recommend evaluating your behavior and mindset on an ongoing basis.
Step 2: Choosing Resources that Align with You
There are a plethora of financial educators, gurus, influencers and everyone in between (including opinionated family members) who have solutions for your situation. This can be overwhelming. It’s even more arduous if, like me, you didn’t grow up talking about money, had a limited understanding of wealth and are still improving your financial literacy skills. Not to mention, reading or observing all the advice from different platforms and people can be in direct opposition to each other. How do you decide what will work?
Select resources that speak to you and are in alignment with your financial goals as well as realistic for your starting point. There are several financial tools or advice that I bookmark because I believe it’s sound recommendations but do not speak to where I’m currently at. In contrast, there are platforms I would never follow because our values are different and I believe it impacts the desired outcome. There are also resources where I applaud their savings strategies but not too keen on their investment portfolio suggestions. This is because their financial situation is vastly unlike my own and that’s completely okay. Conduct thorough research, learn or refamiliarize yourself with personal finance basics and feel empowered to choose what will be most beneficial for your financial circumstance and the goals you set.
Step 3: Be Honest and Gentle about Your Capacity
As mentioned in Step 1, this journey isn’t linear and this step can be followed throughout one’s entire course. It’s important to be honest with yourself about where you’re at and gentle about creating change. Being hostile towards oneself about previous financial behaviors may not serve as the best motivation to create a healthy foundation with money. Furthermore, being gentle about your capacity can be a great financial self-care tactic. It allows space to be considerate when creating realistic budgets and debt payment plans. It encourages you be compassionate and (hopefully) less enthralled with comparisons to others. Additionally, it feels nice to be kind to yourself, especially when you’re learning anything new.
The road to financial wellness will look different for everyone and involve unique lessons. The way I approach this journey is less about how I climb the ladder at work or derive joy from my a particular salary level but how I can be intentional about streams of income, create financial independence and be a resource to my community. Whatever your motivation may be and wherever you’re starting point is, I wish you tremendous luck on your journey.