I find that looking after our financial wellness is something that often gets chronically deprioritised, always making way for the seemingly more urgent demands of everyday life.
And when I say financial wellness, I’m not referring to the financial health of our bank accounts. I’m talking about our approach to our financial affairs and how we choose to engage with the important decisions. If we’re not careful, constantly putting off financial decisions in favour of focusing on other things can become our default financial plan.
Part of the problem is that we tend to overcomplicate, in our heads, what it means to be financially literate or on top of our financial affairs. This becomes an obstacle to engaging with the issue, and so it looms ever larger.
We know that we should open those bank statements, plan our pension, reassess our investments to make sure they’re fit for purpose. But we end up postponing them indefinitely so that they become a source of constant, nagging stress, which is bad for our mental and physical wellbeing.
The sooner we acknowledge that these unaddressed decisions – the source of the anxiety – are not going to go away on their own, the sooner we can start to tackle them and the quicker we can let the stress go.
Here are some tips for making your financial wellness a priority:
Set time aside every month for your finances
Even an hour is better than nothing. You might find that some months you don’t even need as much as that, but it’s the commitment to the routine, making an appointment with your financial self, that is important. Over time, the more you get used to this routine, the less fear-inducing you will find your finances.
Familiarise yourself with your spending patterns
Look at your monthly and yearly expenditure. Set up a spreadsheet to track what comes in and what goes out, or start using a tool that does this for you.. You might be surprised at what you find – pleasantly or otherwise. Either way, having a clear view of your spending habits is the first step towards taking control. As the saying goes – anything that is measured and watched, improves.
Set financial goals for the short and long term
Trying to set and achieve financial goals every month, year and further ahead is how you make sure your actions in the present day are pushing you in the right direction for where you want to end up in future. Looking to retire at 60? Want to give the kids a helping hand up the property ladder? Keen to give up the day job and write that novel? All these are financial goals and are connected to the decisions you make today and every day until you get there.
Face up to debt
This should be first on the list really, but I didn’t want to scare you off. Most of us know that we should clear our bad debts like loans and big credit card bills before thinking about investing or taking on other financial commitments, but sometimes we just need reminding of it. Working out a plan of what you can afford to pay off every month and sticking to it should be a no-brainer for anyone serious about their financial future.
Work with an adviser to bring it all together
You might have the time, tenacity and technical knowledge to define and meet your financial goals all by yourself, but in my experience most of us will need a helping hand, or at the very least will gain additional value, by working with a financial adviser. A great adviser will help you to pull everything together into a coherent plan and – crucially – help you to stick to it. They can work with you to define your financial goals, sort out the tedious paperwork, and help you to better manage your savings and investments. When your life plans change, they are on hand to help you tweak your financial plans accordingly, making sure you and your family are always on course for your financial finish line.
When you’re ready to welcome financial wellness into your life, we’d love to talk.