The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.
It’s easy to know when you’re sick. Maybe you’ve got a fever, chills or a cough that won’t go away. Your body tells you when you’re sick so you know when to stop and take care of yourself.
But how do you know if you’re financially sick? And more importantly, how do you get better?
Financial wellness is not a new topic, but it is attracting more attention lately. For good reason. The latest statistics show that almost half of Americans would not be able to come up with $400 in case of an emergency without borrowing the money. That means millions of Americans are running a financial fever, but they aren’t trying to get better.
Student loans are rising every year, with the latest average being $29,000 a year. Millennials are struggling to afford a new home or car on top of their obligations, all while experiencing lower starting salaries than previous generations.
So with all that doom and gloom out of the way, how can people sort out their money problems and experience financial wellness?
Confront the Problem
Every year, people go to their doctor for an annual physical where they get a holistic checkup. They get blood drawn, have their levels checked and discuss any nagging issues with their doctor.
But where is our yearly financial exam? Where is the annual blood test for your money? It’s not easy to take stock of where you are money-wise.
Thankfully, there are ways you can start to find out where you are. I’ve created a list of questions that you can ask yourself to find out the status of your financial health.
- How much debt do you have?
- What kind of debt do you have (student loans, credit cards, car loan, mortgage, etc.)
- What’s your interest rate on those loans?
- Can you refinance to get a lower rate?
- Can you put extra money toward your debt?
- How much do you have in savings?
- Could you cover an emergency expense?
- Where do you keep your savings?
- Could you be earning a higher interest rate on your savings?
- Are your savings easily accessible in case of an emergency?
- Have you saved for retirement?
- What kind of retirement accounts do you have?
- Are you receiving a company match?
- Do you know what your company’s vesting policy is?
- Do you have a Roth or traditional retirement account?
- Are you saving for any big goals i.e. a down payment for a house, a trip to Paris, etc.
- How are you saving for this goal?
- How much money do you have to save?
- Do you have a plan for saving for your goal?
- When do you want to accomplish your goal?
Financial wellness is about not only paying your bills, but having money for what really matters to you. It’s about being able to afford your dream vacation without putting it on credit cards or borrowing money to have an awesome Christmas. It’s about being able to afford new tires when yours wear out or a new necklace that you really love.
Financial wellness is an ever growing, constant procedure. Like your health, it’s not something that you do once and then forget about it. It’s made up of tiny decisions that all add up to a financially fit or flabby profile.
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