Increasing your wellbeing through financial health
We can often feel when something isn’t right – our “gut feeling” is part of our holistic sensing system, known as the sympathetic nervous system.
Trouble in our outer world can cause turmoil for our inner wellbeing, and finances are a prime factor in causing discomfort, anxiety, and sometimes depression for many.
Though the trappings of wealth are external – and externals, as the Stoics and Buddhists say, are immaterial to how we should respond emotionally and rationally – it is hard not to be affected by financial pressures. But unlike those living in the modern world, the ancients didn’t have bills and credit cards to worry about.
Bringing it back to earth, it’s clear that poor finances not only limit how we live our lives and provide for our family, but can also cause stress and negatively impact our quality of life.
Can poor finances lead to poor relationship health?
Finances lie at the heart of much of our lives even if we don’t like to admit it. In a loving relationship, finances are often shared – rent or mortgage payments, groceries, nights out, and in some cases, debts. Hiding purchases and downplaying how indebted you are can inevitably cause friction in a relationship.
According to a survey by Relationships Australia, 36 percent of men and 31 percent of women discussed how their individual incomes would be shared before they made a commitment to their current or most recent partner. 43 percent of respondents had not discussed how their individual incomes would be shared under these circumstances, while 56 percent of respondents said they’d never discussed how they’d manage their finances if one partner suddenly lost their income.
In another American study, 41 percent of couples in financial stress also fight more often. This can lead to difficulty sleeping, feeling angry or fearful, mood swings, tiredness, muscle pain, loss of appetite, lower sex drive and withdrawing from others, according to Health Direct.
Steps toward improving your finances
The first step is to acknowledge your emotions; write out your worries or talk about them with a safe person or non-judgemental observer. The simple act of voicing concerns or committing them to paper can have a significant positive impact on your state of mind.
You also need to be honest with your family. If your family considers money “taboo” or “difficult,” now is the time more than ever to be open about money matters.
The next step is to get a handle on your spending. The best way to do this is by creating a budget. Personal finance expert and Savvy Managing Director Bill Tsouvalas says this is the most crucial, yet liberating part.
“Making a budget is easier than ever thanks to smartphone apps,” explains Tsouvalas. “Your bank’s own app can be set up to track your spending categories and notify you if you’re spending too much in one area, such as entertainment. You need to understand how much income you have and where it goes each month. This way you can allocate funds better and get on top of your finances bit by bit.”
Consolidating debts and cutting up cards
There are almost 14 million credit cards in Australia, with Australians owing about $20.9 billion – yes, with a B! Credit cards can often get out of control if we’re not mindful of our spending. We may pay off the minimum amount each month, but it only contributes to more debt. We may feel like we’re on a “hamster wheel” when it comes to debt. According to Tsouvalas, consolidating debts and cutting up credit cards is a big leap towards restoring your financial health.
“You’ll feel a big weight lifted off your shoulders when you consolidate your debts by obtaining a secured personal loan. This loan pays off all your credit cards in one hit so you can chip away at the debt in one simple payment,” he says. “It makes life a lot easier and you’ll see, month by month, that your debt is going down. It can make a world of difference to your wellbeing.”
Resources to get on top of finances
There are numerous great government and NGO financial resources in Australia, such as the ASIC Dealing with debt website. It has numerous tips, tricks for getting what you owe under control. If you are a parent, then sites such as Raising Children should be invaluable in helping you manage your family finances.
Financial Counselling Australia also has a national debt helpline which you can call and discuss what you’re going through financially.
You may also be entitled to government assistance, depending on your circumstances and shouldn’t shy away from exploring all available options.
Make a start sooner rather than later
If you’re in debt and afraid of missing payments or going without, you need to contact your bank or financial institution sooner rather than later – and inform your loved ones too.
“Banks and lenders are obligated to help you when you’re in financial hardship,” Tsouvalas says. “This is part of their best practices. You might feel alone but in reality, there is support out there. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your lender or bank manager to discuss what you need. There is a way out and way up when it comes to your financial – and overall – wellbeing.”
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