Let’s get this out of the way up front: my finances aren’t perfect. I had minimal student loans after undergrad. I started at a community college and then transferred to Hamline University, where I graduated. But years down the road I decided to earn my master’s degree. While it was a huge accomplishment and I’m proud of it, that’s where the bulk of my student loans came from.
About 2 years ago I completed my master’s and I’m still making payments. I also have a mortgage, which I’ll be making payments on…well for a while. The main point though is even though I’m not completely debt-free, I’m able to live comfortably while contributing to both savings and retirement. With that said, here are some specifics on why financial health matters to me:
Have you ever had an argument with your partner or spouse about money? I’m not a gambling kind of person, but I’d bet in some way, shape, or form you have at least once. Whether it’s because your car broke down and you didn’t have savings or the other person bought something without talking to you, this happens all the time. In order to mostly avoid these rough times, it’s smart to talk about money often and for both of you to budget together and know where your money goes.
Because my husband and I both know what’s happening with and talk about our finances, we’re able to avoid fighting about money. Not to mention, we have both made conscious efforts to save money for emergencies and for retirement. So if one of our cars breaks down, instead of stressing out and arguing, we’re able to use savings to get the car fixed. Bonus tip: if you plan to spend more than $100 on something, talk to your partner/spouse. It helps!
Paying bills, collection calls, debt, not having enough money, layoffs, etc. causes stress. And as you are likely aware, stress can lead to anxiety, depression, gaining weight, and other health problems.
I have a sedentary job and in the winter in Minnesota I can tell you I should be more active than I am. Plus, I am a food lover, but overall I stay fairly active and I try to eat well so I’d say I’m a pretty healthy person. And it’s partially because I don’t have is a constant worry about finances. My job is steady and I am in a good financial position. So even though I might get stressed out a little from time to time, I’m blessed that I don’t have constant money worries.
According to a recently released paper by CFSI, 1 in 3 workers say that “issues with personal finances have been a distraction at work.” As I said, being financially stable I don’t have that distraction at work, which allows me to be fully present and do my job well. In my case, I feel lucky that I’m in the financial services field. Without this experience, I wouldn’t put as much focus on maintaining financial stability. Plus, part of my job is helping others learn about and improve their finances which is satisfying for me.
I remember vividly when I was 21 and my car broke down; I immediately started crying because I didn’t know what I was going to do. Luckily, I had a support network back then and my parents loaned me the money to fix my car. I did not want to borrow money from them; it was only a few hundred dollars…which I paid back. It could have been a whole lot worse, but being so young it stressed me out. That wasn’t the only financial bump in the road I’ve had in my life. And I am not the most calm person when emergencies happen. (However, I really should react better because I do have a safety net and good insurance in case something comes up.)
These are just a handful of areas in my life that I brought up. But the truth is money and finances affect every aspect of our lives.
So why does financial health matter to me? Because I would not be as happy worrying about money all the time. So financial health gives me the freedom to enjoy my life.
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.