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Published: July, 2016; Vol 13, Num 2

Journey to a Healthier You:

Financial Wellness: Get to Know Your Finances

By Emily Smith

Our “Journey to a Healthier You” series kicked off this past January with a look at the differences between health and wellness. Over the last few months, we’ve looked at many of the eight dimensions of wellness, which are covered in more detail on our Journey to a Healthier You page. This month, we examine financial wellness.

Financial wellness is having an understanding of your current financial state, being able to set and achieve realistic short- and long-term personal financial goals and being prepared for expected and unexpected financial changes and responsibilities.

Financial wellness includes recognizing that everyone's current financial state is different and depends on income, expenses, debt and life circumstances that may or may not be within their control. A financially well person is able to live within their means and make financial decisions that allow them to save, invest and plan for the future in order to achieve financial success.

Similar to the other dimensions we have discussed, there is a range when it comes to financial wellness. Someone could be unsatisfied with their current financial situation, but very mindful of their finances and the steps needed to improve their financial wellness; on the other hand, someone could be satisfied with their current financial situation, but act carelessly with their spending and not think about the future. In an ideal example, someone would be satisfied and mindful of their financial situation, as well as keeping the future and any unexpected expenses that may arise in mind.

Questions to consider when familiarizing yourself with your personal finances:

  1. How much money do you bring in each month? Where does is it come from? Are the amount and source dependable?
  2. What are your monthly expenses? What are your needs vs. wants?
  3. Do you maintain a budget?
  4. Do you live below your means, at your means or above your means?
  5. Do you know the amount you have saved in the bank? The amount of debt you have? The outstanding amount on your credit card(s)?
  6. Do you have a pension or retirement account? Have you considered how your retirement will be funded?
  7. Do you plan for major expenditures (planned or unplanned)? If so, how?
  8. How often do you work on updating and improving your financial planning, goals and objectives (daily, monthly, yearly or never)?

Practicing financial wellness involves:

  1. Not living beyond your means
  2. Managing money responsibly
  3. Making informed financial decisions
  4. Aligning values with spending
  5. Minimizing debt
  6. Using credit wisely
  7. Not letting money be the driving force in your life

Financial wellness isn’t about the love of money or having a ton of it, but it does require thoughtful planning and spending to minimize debt and be financially secure, live your life comfortably and protect you and your family’s future.

Future articles in the “Journey to a Healthier You” series will help to distinguish needs vs. wants, discuss financial stress and provide information on how to set a budget, pay off debt and improve your overall financial wellness.

[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Senior Benefit & Wellness Specialist.]