Work and personal finance represent the raison-d’etre for many individuals operating within the modern culture. Money is, for better or for worse, a contemporary necessity that helps us to found stability and freedom for ourselves, and those we support. We expect that when we have enough money – whatever that means to us as individuals – that all of our problems will fade away, and we will be left with the greater sense of autonomy and confidence that should come from our series of perfectly balanced accounts.
Recent studies show, however, that even among households earning over $100,000 per year, nearly half still experience significant financial stress, lending credence to the age-old phrase: “Money can’t buy happiness.”
The concept of financial wellness has gained in popularity over the last several years. Individuals and organizations alike have made it their mission to build up this type of monetary wellbeing for themselves as well as their employees. But some financial education techniques miss the mark when they forget that achieving financial wellness isn’t always about how much you make – rather, it’s about building a healthier relationship with the finances we currently enjoy.
What is financial wellness?
A point of clarity: financial wellness is not accessible to many individuals who earn below the living wage. It is the responsibility of organizations to ensure first and foremost that they are paying their people adequately if they want to reap the benefits which workforce financial wellness affords.
But when individuals earn enough to cover their basic costs and work towards other financial goals, this helps to set a strong foundation on which financial stability can be built.
From a metrics perspective, financial wellness includes these key factors:
A sustainable income-to-expenditure ratio.
An emergency savings account equivalent to 3 - 6 months of income.
A healthy debt-to-income ratio.
A well-funded retirement account, or an active retirement account on an upward trajectory.
A state of financial well-being goes beyond these points of measurement, stemming largely from improved financial literacy and behavior. Financial wellness is as much a sense of control over an individual’s money as it is a percentage of your paycheck going into a savings account each month.
What is holistic financial wellness?
Holistic financial wellness expands upon the more basic concept by including additional aspects of our finances (and our lives in general) into how we think about, use, and strategize our money.
Individuals have different needs, resources, and lifestyles from one another, and this will invariably change what financial wellness looks like from person to person.
Different people will receive different total compensation packages based on a number of factors, and so two individuals with a similar salary may have different financial capacities. Or, two people with similar salaries may have wildly varying life goals from one another, and so the task of achieving financial wellness will require different steps, etc.
At its core, holistic financial wellness is a behavioral concept which supports individuals in achieving monetary autonomy and freedom – whatever that means for them.
The 4 pillars of holistic financial wellness you need to know
Cultivating holistic financial wellness takes time, diligence, and understanding. And it is absolutely possible with a little help.
Here are the top 4 pillars for creating long-lasting holistic financial wellness.
Finances are like a puzzle – if too many pieces are missing, you won’t be able to get a complete picture. To build financial wellness, it is critical to have as much perspective on your total financial reality as possible. This means:
Knowing your current debt level.
Knowing your total compensation.
Having a sense of your expected obligatory expenses.
Having a sense of both your short and long-term financial goals.
Laying these aspects of your finances out will help you to know what you’re working with so you can strategize your finances to build wellness. With this information, you can create a better budget, save within your capacity, and more easily plan for future expenses – whether that’s retirement, buying a home, paying for a vacation, etc.
Less than two-thirds of the American population consider themselves to be financially literate. But understanding money – how it works, how it can be used, etc. – is crucial to building greater financial independence, autonomy, and wellness.
With better financial literacy, individuals understand how to strategically engage credit and other forms of debt, investment, budgeting, insurance, etc. to build stronger financial foundations and ultimately grow their wealth and monetary flexibility beyond the boundaries of a monthly paycheck.
With a full picture of their own financial reality, as well as a solid understanding of how their money can be used, a financial plan can be put in place that will drive the individual towards their goals.
One aspect of holistic financial wellness means that we are applying our money towards building the lives we want to have, and a well-thought-out financial strategy is what’s going to get us there. A financial plan will include a variety of avenues including daily budget, saving tactics, and others that allow individuals to support both their long and short term objectives.
It’s all too easy to abandon a plan if we hit a wall we simply don’t have the skills to climb over. And money has long been a taboo subject to broach in our world, meaning many individuals are left to fend for themselves when their finances become too complex to understand. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and in fact it is critical to achieving holistic financial wellness to have a team or set of resources in place that can help individuals to bridge the gaps in their financial knowledge on the way to their goals.
Origin is one support system that works to build holistic financial wellness for pan-industrial workforces. Our solution offers an amalgamation of educational resources, tools, and expert advice to build up the skills employees need to take their finances into their own hands, with just the right amount of support to help keep them moving towards their objectives. Origin also helps businesses to achieve their goals through bolstering human stats like retention, engagement, and employee happiness – learn more here.