5 Tips to Improve Your Financial Wellness and Health Wellness
Your finances aren't really that much different from your health when you think about it. Both your health and your wallet are the direct result of the small decisions you make each day about how to manage your body and your finances.
The good news for you is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you're looking to get better in both areas, there are a lot of things you can do to improve both at once.
1. Get a Handle on Your Inputs and Outputs
Your bank account balance is determined by how much money you have going in, minus the amount of money you have going out. You can think of your body in the same way; your weight depends on how much you eat, minus how many calories you spend each day.
For your finances, the best way to get a handle on these flows is by creating a budget. It's the only way you can get detailed information about exactly how much you're bringing in and where it's going, and what things you can do to adjust it. For example, you can look for ways to cut your spending if you're always running short of money. If you can't cut anything else, perhaps it's time to look into ways to increase your income.
You can do the same thing with your health by creating an energy budget. You can calculate how many calories you need every day and then track them for a certain period of time. There are a lot of apps that do this automatically too, such as MyFitnessPal and Fitbit. You don't have to do this forever (but if you do, we won't stop you), and it will give you some idea of what you're actually eating and whether it's the right amount or not.
2. Make It a Daily Habit
You wouldn't expect to be in the greatest financial shape if you only checked your bank account once in a blue moon, would you? The same thing applies to your health too. Instead, try this: look for small ways to include your finances and your health in your daily routine. You can even try habit stacking to get them to stick even faster.
For example, maybe you meditate for 10 minutes in the morning after you brush your teeth. Or, after you eat lunch, you go for a half-hour walk. You can also try downloading a financial tracker app on your phone and checking in with it after getting home from work. Or, have a quick budget date night with your significant other every Friday night.
3. Watch Out for Unhealthy Coping Habits
When things aren't going exactly as planned in your life (and whose is, right now?), it's common to see unhealthy behaviors creep up.
For example, binge eating, excess drinking, and retail therapy are all signs that you're stressed out. And unless you do something to try and cope with that stress in other ways, it'll continue until it becomes a bigger problem of its own, making you even more stressed out.
We don't always have the power to snap our fingers and change our circumstances, unfortunately. But you can seek out other ways within your budget that allow you to cope in healthier ways. For example, seeking out support from friends, joining online support groups, or (if you're able to afford it) finding help from a professional therapist can be far better in the long run than a whole pint of Ben & Jerry's, we promise.
4. Set a Series of Goals
One of the most frustrating things in personal finance is hearing how much you have to save up for emergencies, retirement, houses, and other big goals. That's especially true if you don't have much in your bank account already, and you're not earning much. The same thing applies to your fitness goals: if you want to lose 50 pounds or train for a marathon, it often seems like such a far reach that you'll never get there.
But here's something that's also not focused on as much: these big goals are meant more as an end goal for a process. The goal isn't to get there tomorrow (although that would be nice if it were possible). The goal is just to get started and start making progress. And the best way to do that is by setting a series of smaller, intermediate goals that will get you closer to the end goal.
For example, if your goal is to save up a $10,000 emergency fund, try setting a series of smaller $500 milestone goals instead. Or if you're trying to squat 100 pounds, try starting from wherever you're at and breaking it up into 10-pound markers. Each time you reach a milestone goal, make sure to celebrate—you deserve it.
5. Expect Setbacks
If you're trying to get better with your finances or your health, here's one thing that's true: you will have setbacks. You will go over your budget, you will gain weight, you will be derailed off your savings goals, or you will get injured and lose your gains while taking a break.
It can be really demoralizing when this happens, but it's important to get back on the wagon as soon as you're ready. Remember, you're on a journey, and just because you stubbed your toe doesn't mean you can't go on. The only way you'll really fail is if you stop completely and go back to where you started from, or worse. Setbacks aren't meant to stop you; they're meant to challenge you so that it's even more worthwhile once you actually do reach your goals.