Happy 2023! As we start a new year and try to improve, reinvent, or simply start again, I decided now is as good a time as any to broach a new area of wellness. Financial wellness. Up until now, I have steered clear of this topic, but it’s a new year and my outlook has changed. I am venturing into unchartered territory. In truth, financial wellness is just like any other wellness challenge—the formula is the same. We will strive to achieve a short-term goal in an effort to make long range life altering improvements. We just need to adjust our goals according to our own financial health and circumstances.
Financial stress is emotional tension that is specifically related to money. Dare I say that most people experience financial stress at some point in their lives, if not on a daily basis. Financial stress is not to be taken lightly. Not only can it interfere with your focus and concentration, but it can also lead to stomachaches, headaches, anxiety and depression. When we exist in a constant state of stress, our bodies don’t have time to recover, thereby weakening our immune system . Our compromised immune system then results in increased susceptibility to illnesses (think colds and viruses) and flare ups of chronic conditions. In some cases, the stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors including overeating and drug and alcohol use and/or abuse. (Scott, 2022)
An acronym continually popped up in my search for financial wellness challenges. SMART. After skipping over several of the websites touting the word--I decided to investigate. For those of you who are in the dark like I was, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. and it’s the formula we will use to tackle our January financial wellness challenge. Improving our financial health while existing in the same current financial “condition” seems impossible. But with this approach, I am hoping you will each successfully take one small step towards improved financial health “just as you are”. (Bridget Jones Diary reference, if you know, you know).
Your personal financial goal should be Specific, for example, if your intention is to start or build a Savings Account, decide on an actual dollar amount. Then automate that amount to be taken from your paycheck and transferred to a separate bank account earmarked Savings. Making the goal Measurable allows you to quantify your success. If you decide to create an Emergency fund, decide how much and how often you are going to save towards it. Make it Achievable. Instead of attempting to pay off the remainder of your student loan this year, maybe your goal will be to increase the payment this month and see if you can sustain that higher amount all year long. If the goal is out of reach, you are setting yourself up to fail. The goal should be both possible and reasonable which results in a Realistic challenge. Find something suited to you and your particular circumstances. And finally, keep it Time-Based. In this case your timeline is 31 days because it’s our January challenge. (Waugh, n.d.).
The formula is direct and to the point. Now you need to challenge yourself. Need some ideas? If you use cash, start collecting all of your spare change into a Change Jar and see how much you have accumulated by month’s end. If you’re a credit card user, ask your bank to “Round Up” your purchases and automate that money to be filtered into a savings account. If you got a raise this year, put an Extra 1% into your 401K. Set aside a portion of your Annual Bonus and stash it away for a Rainy Day. Say Goodbye to the Latte a Day and make your coffee or tea at home all month and then calculate the savings by the 31st. Money Saving Challenges are just what they sound like. Choose an amount or tactic in an effort to set aside/save from every paycheck. Once you see the result of making just one change, keep it going all year long and you may find yourself with a vacation or Emergency Fund that has been a long time coming! (Brancato, 2022)
The goal this month is to take an achievable small step in improving or enhancing your finances. Make yourself accountable and the result measurable. No progress is too small. My hope is that the confidence you gain in your success will lead to greater sense of security in both your pocket and your state of mind. Please join us as for Tycor’s SMARTen Up in 2023 Wellness Challenge!
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Brancato, K. (2022, November 1). 18 Money-Saving Challenges To Save More Money! Retrieved from www.clevergirlfinance.com: https://www.clevergirlfinance.com/blog/money-savings-challenge/
Scott, E. (2022, July 29). Financial Stress: How To Cope. Retrieved from www.verywellmind.com: https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-and-preventing-financial-stress-3144546
Waugh, E. (n.d.). How to Set SMART Financial Goals. Retrieved from www.experion.com: https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-to-set-smart-financial-goals/