Wellness encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and financial well-being. Financial wellness is a state of financial well-being. It is not only about paying your bills, paying debts, saving and investing. It is also managing day-to-day finances and having a plan in place.
According to Isabelle Coetzee, financial wellness means having control over your money, regardless of how much or how little you make.
Why is financial wellness discussed and why is it important?
Financial wellness is important because it improves our health and well-being. For example, if you have saved enough, you can meet unexpected financial emergencies. In the same way, having a solid retirement plan can assist you in pursuing your passions. Financial wellness is also important because of the following:
Financial insecurity and stress.
In today’s economic recession, inflation and layoffs, employees feel financial insecurity. Financial insecurity causes stress and anxiety. A survey reports that 22% of people feel stress due to their finances.
Genius Consultants conducted a survey and the results are as follows:
57% of the employees worry about their job security based on the current layoff scenario. Job insecurity leads to financial anxiety. It has a range of negative effects. It can cause fear, anxiety, depression, pain, aches, mood swings and sleeplessness. The survey also states that only 2% of the participants have enough financial backup.
Women and financial security
Women need more financial security than men. In India, 90% of working women contribute to household expenses. Yet,67% are dependent on men for financial decisions. Consider a scenario in which Zeta, a software engineer entrusts all her salary, savings, loans and tax to her husband. Her husband passed away due to a heart attack and she felt clueless about the finances handled by her husband. Zeta is in complete financial illiteracy about property details, savings, investments, insurance and loans. While Zeta is grieving, the extra burden of managing finances adds anxiety, stress and insecurity to her life. She feels helpless and guilty for not gathering knowledge about her finances. Zeta might have felt more in control, confident, and empowered if she had known about the asset details. Financial literacy can solve many problems for women. Financial fitness gives women, independence and empowerment.
Financial literacy is the basic understanding of the financial concepts. Financial literacy can help them access and use various financial services. Financial literacy in India is only 27%. 80% of women in India struggle with financial literacy. Limited financial knowledge can lead to loss due to debt, bad investments, and scams.
From the above, we can understand the importance of financial wellness. In other words, financial stability provides a sense of security and freedom.
Stages of financial wellness
Isabelle states that there are seven stages to financial wellness to begin with. To achieve a state of well-being, we find ourselves in any one of the stages towards building wellness.
- Chaos – Confusion, sudden life events or lack of understanding of finances.
- Avoidance – Confusion, you know that you need to make changes.
- Awareness – You are ready to work on your finances, seek help and learn.
- Stability – Your financial well-being is starting to progress, optimistic.
- Security – You continue to see your financial progress, feeling confident.
- Freedom – You are living a comfortable life, and you take care of your present and future.
- Fulfilment – reaping the benefits of your financial freedom. Even when an emergency strikes you rarely feel a large impact.
How to practice financial wellness?
After finding out the stage you are in, you are going to apply your financial literacy and skills in your life. For this, you should know the basics of financial wellness. They are : Budgeting, Debt Management, Savings, Investment and Insurance.
The goal is financial security and freedom for you and your family. For example, Budgeting is a skill.
- Creating and sticking to a budget.
- Managing day-to-day finances.
- Preparing for financial emergencies.
- Planning for the future.
You should know how to use debt as an instrument as this can reduce barriers to savings. Traditional forms of debt are loans and credit cards. Other debts are bonds and securities. The key is to know how to use debt instruments like mortgages and car loans for financial wellness.
Savings and investments
Saving and investment can ensure financial security and peace of mind for retirement. Short-term savings can leave you with cash to cover vacations and home repairs.
Short-term and long-term investments include stocks, PPF, NSC, ULIP, government bonds, Mutual funds ETC.
Protection and Insurance
Insurance or emergency funds can protect you from unexpected emergencies. Insurance can cover losses due to fire, health emergencies etc.
Financial wellness for women
Financial wellness for a woman whether working or a homemaker starts with financial literacy. For example, women should understand that they need to break the barriers, social conditioning and gender role stereotypes with regard to finances. The biggest stereotype is that women are bad with money and women are fragile, need support with finances etc.
Women have the right to financial knowledge and spouses should share financial details. The spouse in turn can encourage and boost her confidence in knowing and handling the finances says financial expert, Anil Parekh. The spouse can provide information in both hard and soft copy formats of the following adds Anil Parekh.
- Details of Savings Bank A/c, FD A/c etc
- Details of Personal PPF A/c (Public Provident Fund) and PF A/c number, NSC, Post office savings etc.
- DMAT A/c number and Depository name, Trading A/c number and name if any.
- Term Insurance policy details.
- Property details and papers.
- Details of Investment in Bonds.
- Loans, Credit card details etc.
Establishing and cultivating financial wellness needs individual persistence. This gets enhanced with govt support and good quality financial services. Improved financial wellness will improve the quality of your life. Financial wellness will make you smart and enjoy the comforts of life.
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