Money as a Wellness Issue

Somewhere during the first part of Covid Lockdown a few clients messaged me very worried about their dwindling investment values, salaries that might be reduced or contracts that might not be renewed. Some clients even dusted off their Excel budgets they designed a few years back and started working on them again. And some clients started down the road of being more self-sufficient, growing their own vegetable gardens and some even made their own moisturisers. All of these actions relate to one thing: we became more aware of money.

Let`s face it- most people think that money is rational. We either make more or spend less then all will be well again, right?

Wrong- money is linked to our emotions. We humans are herd animals and we tend to compare our wellbeing to the rest of the herd and most of the times we compare upwards, not down. We tend to envy the ones that look like they are doing better and we feel embarrassed by our own (apparent) lack of managing money or making more money.

There is this base level of anxiety about money that we confront almost on a daily basis.

According to Neuroscientist Dr Ash Ranpura, most of our financial decisions – like most of our decisions in general – are actually habits. It’s rare that we engage in the difficult and painful process of rationality, weighing up the pros and cons and thinking through long-term consequences. Much more often we take the path of least resistance and just go with the flow. It takes a strong person to stand up against the flow – and it takes quite a lot of determination to do the same with a well-established habit.

Our sense of financial wellbeing, Dr Ranpura confirms, like our sense of physical wellbeing, depends as much on our attitudes and our mindset as it does on our material circumstances.

Maybe we can lose some of our bad financial habits and replace them with good ones?

Steps to your habit change:

  • Have a clear starting line. Humans do better when they pick a date or time to change or incorporate a new habit. Pick a day like your birthday or first of the month to start looking at your banking app and paying off your credit card on the 1st of every month and be done with it. Maybe buy a share every month on the 1st with your spare cash.

 

  • Break everything up into smaller tasks. want to invest more- sounds great but also intimidating. Break the goal up into smaller projects: July I will save R500 towards my bank emergency fund and in August I will buy my first share and build from there. It makes for a better habit.

 

  • Use heuristics- a heuristics is a rule of thumb or decision rule. You want to bypass your brain`s natural laziness by making less complicated decisions and more simple decisions. Example is deciding to save every month a portion of your income and then do just that. Not overthinking it- just do it- if unsure- transfer the savings portion firstly into your savings account with your bank and take it from there. Do not overthink how and where- first just do. One small step at a time.

 

If we can accept the fact that money is a wellness issue that can be physically and mentally improved by changing of habits and attitudes then we can more fully get a grip on our overall mental health and feel more in control of our finances as well.