Willow recently hosted a workshop with over 550 registrants on financial wellness—clearly a topic that resonated with many women! Read for a recap (and view the recording) of the workshop and learn how you can move from financial stress to financial wellness, too.
We can all agree that 2020 was not what any of us expected. With job losses, deaths, political instability, and so much more, our physical, mental, emotional, financial, and perhaps spiritual capacities were stretched to their limits.
In short, 2020 was an incredibly stressful year.
Which is why we will now turn to wine.
No, not as a coping mechanism. But as a way to help make meaning out of a stressful year. Did you know that some of the best wine comes out of the most strenuous conditions? When the grape vines are stressed, the flavors become more concentrated, which then produces wine with exceptional flavors.
So what if, like the vines that produce the very best wines after the most stressful years, we are now poised for our best year ever? Read to learn how you can take lessons from a stressful year and turn them into a fruitful one this year. You can also download the 2021 Financial Wellness workbook and watch the full workshop recording at the end of this post.
How Financial Stress Can Manifest Itself
Before learning about how to move into financial wellness, it’s important to recognize the ways that financial stress might show up in you or your loved ones.
Money impacts nearly every area of our lives, so it makes sense that it can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. Some of the physical, mental, and emotional ways you might experience financial stressors, include:
- Tension headaches
- Lower back pain
- Tense or raised shoulders
- Higher levels of anxiety or a feeling of heaviness in your chest
- Increased depression
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- High blood pressure
- Trouble remembering things
- Increased irritation
We might chalk up a singular sign or symptom to general stress, but it’s important to pinpoint if any of these might be associated with specific financial pressures.
Even though finances are cited as a top stressor in Americans, we often don’t include it as part of our regular self-care routine. So how do we replace these stressors with different and more positive feelings? We look at where we came from and where we want to go next.
Reflect on 2020 and Get Clear on Your Goals
Despite the adversities you faced last year that were outside of your control, take a moment to reflect on one thing that you’re proud of and complete the following sentence:
Even though I couldn't control _______ (adversity) last year, I managed to _______ (accomplishment).
Maybe your employer reduced your hours, but you were still able to save money for retirement. Or, even though you were quarantined at home, you took the time to review and cancel some of your now-unused subscriptions. Whatever it is, it’s important to recognize your wins of any size.
You can also write this down in the free 2021 Financial Wellness workbook used during the live workshop.
Craft Your Ideal Money Mindset
Another thing we can control? Our actions and our attitude. So if you were to decide the one word you would want to describe your ideal money mindset, what would it be? Maybe it’s confident, secure, or free. Workshop participants shared words like independence, simple, and thriving.
Whatever word you choose, let 2021 be the year that you re-wire your money mindset and boost your financial confidence.
Write Down Your Goals
Next, it’s time to bring your desired money mindset to your plans to achieve specific financial goals—both long-term and short-term. Maybe the pandemic made you realize you want to retire earlier than you’d planned; so, write down the exact age you want to retire as your longer-term financial goal. Your shorter-term goals might be getting rid of debt, or saving for an epic vacation in 2022—again, the more specific and concrete, the better.
Lastly, to make your goals stick even more, write down why these goals are important to you. (Remember, you can write all of these down and refer back to the questions in the free 2021 Financial Wellness workbook.)
Use These 3 Money Freedom Techniques to Guide You in 2021
List Your Desired Outcomes
Another way to think about the goals you just formulated above is to focus on the outcomes that you want. Whether it’s to move to a new city to be closer to family, or to quit your job and be your own boss, listing your desired outcomes is a powerful way to visualize and work toward what you want. It’s also important to recognize if your desired outcome is driven by ego or by a need.
You can then outline both the risks associated with this outcome, as well as the action steps you need to take to make it happen (see pg. 8 of the workbook).
Know the Power of Willpower
The easiest way to have more self control is to build habits that take out the mental effort of making a decision.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight but you have a pantry full of junk food, your willpower is going to be tested all day long. So a great first step to lose weight is to eliminate those temptations—which then reduces the need for willpower and increases your ability to have self control.
The same thing goes for your finances. When you have systems in place that eliminate your temptations, it becomes much easier to follow through and stay on track. Three ways you can easily boost your financial self-control:
- Setting up automatic transfers into savings or retirement accounts so you “pay yourself” first
- Removing your payment information from websites or browsers to prevent 1-click shopping
- Setting up automatic payments so you’re never late on a bill
Plan for Expected Expenses
While we often focus on having an “emergency fund,” those funds are for emergencies—expenses we truly did not expect.
What we sometimes forget to set aside money for are what we call expected expenses. They’re not a part of your monthly budget, but you spend money on them every year. Things like:
- Holiday spending
- Oil changes
- Car tags or inspections due every year
We know that these events come every year, but when we don’t plan for the expenses that come along with them, they can be budget busters. The easiest way to not be caught off guard when these expenses pop up? Set up a separate account for each category (nickname them fun things while you’re at it—Trip to Aruba! Dining Room Upgrade! Gifts for People I Love! Holiday Cheer!), and automatically transfer money into them every month. That way, when it comes time to pay for those expenses, you’ll hardly notice that money’s gone.
Despite everything that was outside of your control last year, you have the power to control your actions and your attitudes around money. By learning from your financial challenges in 2020, setting a clear vision for your goals, and putting in place tried-and-true financial habits, you can move away from financial stress and into true financial wellness.
And if you’re looking to go deeper on any of these topics or get more personalized guidance for your unique situation, you can always book a free 15-minute consultation with a Willow Financial Coach to get started.