Whoever coined the saying, ‘money can’t buy you happiness’ has clearly never had to look at an overdue bill slipped under their door.
Ever lost sleep over a bill or stressed about paying for simple necessities like rent and groceries? The truth is, financial stability and mental health are closely intertwined and your financial anxieties will likely have serious long-term emotional effects.
In this article, we’ll cover the relationship between finance and mental health and what you can do to get your finances on track today.
The health benefits of financial stability
According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 72% of Americans said that money stresses them out. A further 22% reported extreme stress due to financial woes.
Stress has already been proven to cause all sorts of issues like headaches, high blood pressure, and chest pain. The Mayo Clinic even cites angry outbursts, social withdrawal, depression, and lack of motivation as a few of the potential consequences of long-term stress.
This may not sound very surprising, but it’s far easier to keep your psyche healthy if you feel financially secure. Having enough money in savings can help you worry less about your day-to-day needs and focus on your goals.
Financial stresses likely spill over into your habits as well. A 2016 study of over 33,000 US households published in Psychological Science found that unemployed households were significantly more likely to buy OTC pain killers.
One particular study by paediatric specialist Dr Maria Davalos found that those with financial anxiety drink more while those trying to save money drink less.
So if you’re wondering why you just can’t kick a bad habit, you may have your bills to blame.
More time for yourself
When you don’t have to spend all your time earning money or finding ways to pay off debt, you’ll have time to do other things you love.
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal found that those who use their money to give themselves more free time are happier. Free time for adults may be just as important as playtime for kids.
Meredith Sinclair, author of Well-Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit, says: ‘Play… has been proven to be vital for a healthy emotional, mental, physical state of being.’
A further study from Ohio State University found that sparing time for leisure activities can lower levels of depression and improve your psychological state.
If you’re not always working to make ends meet, you’ll naturally have extra time to spend on things like counselling or building strong relationships with others. You’ll also get more time to explore yourself and find out who you are.
That all sounds great but half the stress about finance is that it’s hard to know where to start.
Here are some simple steps you can take today to start managing your finances so you can take advantage of the health benefits.
How to get started
1. Assess your finances
Before anything, you need to know exactly how much money is available for you to work with. Knowing your financial situation inside and out is the first step to managing your cash properly and achieving long-term stability.
Retirement savings, debt, income, emergency funds, credit score, and insurance are the main things you should assess according to Courtney Jespersen of NerdWallet.
2. Make a savings plan
Figure out what percentage of your income you need to save each month to achieve your goals. If you’re spending 20% of your take-home income on living costs and need to save 20% each month to achieve financial freedom then that means you can’t use more than 60% on other expenses.
Financial education site, Smart About Money, advises you always pay yourself first and set up an automatic transfer to your savings account every month.
3. Pick out investments
If you’re trying to achieve financial security in the hopes of lowering your stress levels, you may want to avoid volatile forms of investment like cryptocurrency or stocks.
Instead, go for safer investments with a stable reputation, like real estate or treasury bonds. If you want to balance out stability with higher ROIs than bonds can offer, you might want to consider peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.
P2P platforms like MyConstant and other similar services make borrowers back loans with crypto collateral to insure against default. Returns are generally very lucrative, with sites like MyConstant offering a steady 7% APR in six months.
Ben Taylor of Investopedia says: ‘Hoarding cash is not an option for investors because inflation erodes the real value of cash. Case in point: At a rate of 3% inflation per year, $100,000 will be worth just $40,000 in 30 years.’
4. Reassess each year
At the start of each year, see how your savings plan and investments have been working for you. Are they getting you to where you need to be? Have your choices had a positive impact on your mental health? If not, find the problematic areas and patch them up.
Many sources suggest you even review your budget once a month.
Control your finances before they control you
There’ll always be people who make financial freedom out to be a Herculean task, but if you really break it down it’s not so hard to get started. Today there are a growing number of platforms and apps making it easier to get your finances in order.
Don’t wait until your monetary woes get the best of you, start fighting back today.
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