The Best Way To Handle Money Holistically

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Many people are stressed by money. In addition to rising health care costs, job losses, and the economic downturn, the pandemic has magnified the anxiety it causes for some people. Money emerged as the top source of stress among respondents, with 30 percent of those surveyed citing money as their top concern in an WalletHub survey this March of over 750 people. Because harboring financial stress can affect your mind and body just as much as any other type of stress, especially when it seems like the only option is restrictive, not reasonable, learning how to improve your relationship with money may be as much about changing your psychological approach as it is about improving your budget.

The Well+Good Podcast recently aired an episode discussing the topic of holistic financial wellness, with Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest Sallie Krawcheck, and founder of Clever Girl The CFEI’s Bola Sokunbi discusses issues like the gender pay gap (yes, women still make 82 cents for every dollar a white man makes), the damaging narratives around finance that set us up to have a poor relationship with money from the beginning. Ideologies.

It is common for personal-finance experts to tell you that you start with the budget, but in reality, imposing this on someone who is unwilling to follow the budget is simply not going to help, Bryan-Podvin says in the episode. I think this issue goes far beyond the question ‘Can I afford this latte?’When it comes to actually improving your relationship with money, this hyper-focus on daily budgeting is pretty misguided.

The first step is to clarify your goals and what you want to accomplish that money can help you achieve. -Bola Sokunbi, CEO and founder of Clever Girl Finance

The key to financial wellness is to adopt a long-term perspective (rather than just working via a daily budget) along with a bigger-picture approach. It is important to consider what you want to accomplish in life with the help of money, says Sokunbi in the episode. “You must have a clear understanding of why you wish to become financially healthy, and this may not come to you immediately, but rather you must give it some thought and dig deep into yourself.”

how to improve your relationship with money

Identifying your “why” can help you focus on the rest of your financial plan, which Bryan-Podvin says is built around three pillars: daily spending (aka your budget), mid-term spending goals (like saving for a vacation or a living-room makeover), and long-term goals (like paying down consumer debt, investing in a 401K, or getting life insurance). She specifically mentions that daily spending or budgeting is just one of those pillars, and that getting too caught up in it can do more harm than good.

“I always tell my clients that there are three areas we can focus on, and we can start with the one that feels the least scary,” Bryan-Podvin says.

Focusing solely on a restrictive pain point isn’t as likely to lead to progress as a more holistic approach, similar to how forcing yourself to follow any other rigid financial rule isn’t always helpful—for example, declaring you have to save a certain amount of money by a certain age. So, according to Sokunbi, “it’s more about identifying where you stand, creating a plan from there, and working it with patience” to improve your relationship with money (and your savings and budget).

That’s why it’s critical to have a compelling “why” for your strategy. “Once you know that, it will compel you to want to make progress on your finances, even when things get tough,” says Sokunbi. “It will help you get past the emotions and overwhelm you are experiencing right now when it comes to money, and focus on the long-term goals you want to achieve.”

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