Wealth, Health, and Why
Episode #1 of the course Financial wellbeing: How to worry less about money by Maureen McGuinness
Many of us have grown up with more than our ancestors had 100 years ago. In the developed world, we’ve had the basics for survival for many decades: clean drinking water, shelter, clothing, and food.
In the last 30 years, we’ve witnessed phenomenal growth in our living conditions: we have access to soda, coffee, alcohol, and cuisine from nearly every country. Our houses have grown to 2,453 square feet, our clothes can be designer or from discount outlets where we can buy more with our money to fill our closets. We can order food at the touch of a button on our smart phones.
With more choice and wealth than ever before, has our wellbeing increased?
Increased wealth doesn’t necessarily create financial wellbeing
In 2011, a study found that individuals in richer countries (France and the U.S.) are slightly more likely to be depressed than those in low or middle income countries. In a survey of English people (England is the fifth richest country in the world), researchers found that more than 6 out of 10 men are overweight or obese, with women just slightly lower–with 5 out of 10 women classed as overweight or obese. Increasing choice isn’t always a good thing for our health. Abundance of choice has encouraged us to overconsume.
What is financial wellbeing?
Today, the internet is bursting with sites telling you that you can achieve financial freedom by creating a business or create passive income from investments. Financial freedom and financial wellbeing are not one and the same. You may come across people who have their financial freedom, but who lack a sense of wellbeing.
Since wellbeing can’t be purchased, it’s up to us to invest our time and effort into looking after our finances in a way that increases our wellbeing. Instead of focusing on making more money, we can focus on asking better questions about how we spend, earn, and save our money. We can ask how we use money as a tool for our own greater good instead of going with the flow of consumerism.
Imagine a person who lacks financial wellbeing. What do you see?
A person with financial wellbeing has control over day-to-day expenses, the freedom to make choices to enjoy life and the ability to handle a financial shock. My recipe for financial wellbeing will not necessarily work for you, but in sharing my approach, I hope you can find aspects to apply to your situation. Financial wellbeing is about finding the right balance of looking after your wealth and health.
Articulate your why
With a brief introduction on where we are with money and health, we move on to the why-to of financial wellbeing.
He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Do you want to spend less, earn more, save more and invest more? Why are these important to you? When you don’t ask yourself why, it’s easy to get caught up in doing the same thing as those around you–whether that’s appropriate for you or not. Have you ever felt the urge to purchase something because your friend just did?
Articulating your why before tackling the how-to creates an anchor–something to bring you back to your purpose when things get difficult.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
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