What causes you stress? Odds are that, more than health, family, or even work, money is the likely culprit. In America, studies show that money, above everything else, is the number one cause of stress. Worldwide, people are feeling anxious about their financial future. Of those surveyed in a global financial well-being study, 78% believe that they are not on the right path to achieve the income they want in retirement.
If you’re human, whether you have a lot of it or a little, you’re probably stressed about money.
It’s probably impacting not only your financial well-being but also your psychological, physical, and interpersonal well-being.
And luckily, like most problems in life, it can be solved through education and action.
We weren’t taught financial well-being in school and most of us aren’t exposed to it at home or at work. So at this time, if you want to achieve financial well-being we need to start by educating ourselves and taking active steps towards it.
Well, what is financial well-being and why is it important?
We like to think of financial well-being as a state of mind, circumstance and feeling. A way of being that is cultivated through a series of insights, decisions and actions.
We’ve broken down financial well-being into a simple three step framework that is structured to support you in reaching a place of peace, confidence and prosperity in your financial future.
III. Plan of Action
Today we'll focus on the first step of Awareness.
Understanding your relationship to money, your financial situation and areas for growth and improvement.
Identifying your beliefs, motivations and values around money.
We start at the beginning.
What beliefs do you have about money? What experiences or messages shaped those beliefs? Are these beliefs supporting you or holding you back? It’s an eye-opening and sometimes emotional process uncovering the stories and experiences behind one of our biggest sources of stress. It can be confronting especially if you've been avoiding money for any reason!
Here’s a story from INVESTERA’s co-founder illustrating how beliefs about money can unconsciously operate in the background and impact our present:
“I found creative ways from a very young age to make money and juggled several jobs all the way through university. Thrifty was my middle name and I saved relentlessly. While squirreling away every possible dollar served me well in some regards, I now realize that it was coming from a place of fear and scarcity. Growing up in an unstable environment, I feared not having enough to meet needs and felt that I had to fend for myself financially.
As my career started taking off, I accumulated a significant amount of cash in my savings account (my bank was having a hay day with it!). I knew I was losing money to inflation and from lost investment opportunities; yet, I felt a paralysis. I didn't know who I could trust with my money. I didn't feel confident about taking risks to make my money work for me or that I could make investments that aligned with my values. I also felt guilt for spending hard earned money on anything beyond basic needs. I would turn down experiences that ached me to miss out on in order to save - I weighed everything with a strict cost equation.
It took a big wake up to transform my relationship to money...and I'll be honest, this took the discomfort of sitting with memories to pinpoint where my beliefs originated. I had to rewire my thinking to shift from fear and scarcity to operating from a place of trust and abundance. And practically, to go from being a saver to an investor. Today, I have people I trust that I confide in about money matters. I have confidence in allocating my money in a way that has the ability to earn more. My wealth (it's been a journey for me to get comfortable using this word) is no longer stagnant and can flow in a way that is aligned with my values and do good in the world. I also have incredible freedom spending money on meaningful experiences and having a nest egg to fuel new ideas and ventures like INVESTERA. This awareness has been transformational in my relationship to money and, ultimately, my relationship to self.”
Whether it’s saving too much or too little...spending too much or not feeling your worthy of spending money on yourself...developing an awareness of your money mindset and behaviors can be life changing. Get curious - what stories do you have about money matters that may subconsciously be impacting you today? Once you’ve done that, identify your values around your personal finances. Your values are unique to you and understanding how to articulate yours is part of the Awareness process. Do you have a set of values about your finances and money? If so, what are they?
A few of our personal values that we’ve integrated into our startup INVESTERA are integrity, making a difference and collaboration. In our financial lives, our values include accountability, education and social and environmental stewardship.
We are just scratching the surface of the exploration in awareness. It’s not a do it once exercise and then you’re done. Awareness is the foundational starting point for building financial well-being that is woven throughout your financial journey as your life needs and views evolve over time.
To assist you in your journey, we put together a self-assessment checklist. Take a moment to reflect on where you stand in financial well-being awareness and where you'd like to give more attention.
Look out for our next post on financial well-being and how to take action towards it.
Sources for statistics: American Psychological Association and Black Rock People & Money 2020 Study