Happy January! It’s a new year which means a fresh start for our hopes, dreams and spring-break bods. What do we celebrate in January? National Financial Wellness Month (everyone’s first thought, I know). So, what exactly is “financial wellness?” The answer might be different to everyone. For some this could mean being debt free, for others this could mean being able to afford that venti Starbucks cold brew with oat milk every single day they want. While this definition varies, below are some things to consider when constructing your definition of financial wellness.
ARE YOU READY IF A CRISIS HITS?
Just like COVID taught us, life can throw us for an unexpected loop, so we need to be prepared. Have an emergency fund in place to help with any expenses when facing a financial rough patch – maybe being fired or laid off from a job. Have 3-6 months’ worth of basic expenses saved. If you are in a one-income household, you should err on the side of 6 months.
DOES YOUR SPENDING ALIGN WITH YOUR VALUES?
First things first, you should know where you spend your money. Since it’s January you have a nice, clean 12 months you can look back on for 2021. Look through these expenses and start to categorize and tally them (all my spreadsheet lovers, this is your time to shine). Spreadsheets aren’t your thing? Try Mint – it’s free and easy to use. If you have a budget, did you follow it last year? After seeing your full picture make sure your spending aligns with your values. If you paid for a monthly gym membership because you value your health and wellness then congrats, you’re aligned. Don't forget about those new year’s resolutions when revising your budget for this year. If your resolution is to improve your golf game, include lessons and trips to the range in your budget guidelines for the year. A general spending guide to follow is 50% on your needs, 30% on your wants and 20% toward savings, which takes us to our next point.
ARE YOU WORKING TOWARD YOUR GOALS?
Whether your goals are short term (saving for a car down payment) or long term (retirement), you should be saving toward these goals. Don’t forget, the best goals are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound). Easy ways to save toward your goals include contributing to your work retirement plan (often a 401(k)). Maxing your contribution is ideal but if you can’t make that work at least try to contribute up to the amount your company matches. Saving toward your other goals is usually easiest with automatic contributions/transfers to a savings account. With these set up automatically you know that you’ll reach your goal (and when)!
FIGURING OUT YOUR FINANCES SHOULDN'T BE STRESSFUL
With budgets, goals and strategies in place you’ll be working toward wellness with your finances which means peace. Achieving any goal takes time but having a plan in place helps you get there with less stress. If you need help creating your financial plan to crush those goals, consider consulting a financial advisor.
What does Financial Wellness mean to you?