No matter how much money you make, if you’ve ever lived paycheck to paycheck, you understand the growing anxiety as the first of the month approaches. The angst that keeps you from opening the credit card bill that comes on time every month, begging for your attention. The nagging fear of an overdue car repair, an unexpected medical emergency, or job loss. The “money disease” caused by financial worries can negatively affect all aspects of our lives, including our health, our relationships, and our performance at work. Financial worries eat away at our mental well-being, steal our joy and peace of mind.
Yet many Americans live in precarious paycheck to paycheck. A majority of us, in fact. We spend our days trading our precious time for pay, and we’re still struggling to stay afloat. According to Bankrate Emergency Savings Survey as of June 2021, more than half of 1,009 respondents said they had less than three months of spending in an emergency fund.
And while high earners – those who bring in $75,000 or more a year – are more likely to have accumulated savings, only 43% of respondents said they had at least six months of living expenses in savings. emergency. Despite the amount of money coming in, a startling 32% said they had less than three months of savings or no savings at all. With the damage that financial difficulties can cause, what is driving these numbers?
Why can’t we save? It is not a question of budget. It’s a matter of financial sanity.
Although we may have experienced a financial setback such as divorce, prolonged illness, unemployment or underemployment, the main reason we have no money in the bank is not that we don’t know how to add, subtract or create a budget. It’s because we haven’t learned how to manage our urge to consume. We failed to contain our ever-changing desires.
We are bombarded with messages about what it is like to have money. Money flows freely in the shows we watch, the magazines we read, and the posts we see on social media. The people around us seem to have more, and we want what they have. But we are deceived about what it really means to have wealth.
We can appear rich – driving expensive cars, wearing designer shoes, living in prestigious neighborhoods – while secretly flirting with financial disaster. We trick ourselves into believing that if we’re wearing the “right” clothes or taking the “right” vacation, we’ve made it. May our possessions and experiences prove that we are successful and worth it. We allow what I call ‘SocieTHEY’ to define what ‘fair’ means and how we measure our value. And by trying to prove ourselves to others, we are putting ourselves and our families at financial risk by not building up adequate savings for emergencies and investments for long-term wealth and security.
It’s easy to spend more when you earn more. But why do we fall into this trap of lifestyle inflation? We stumble financially because of our financial mindset. We care about what others think, raise our expectations, and feel entitled to more. We think, “I deserve it. And so we spend instead of saving and investing. We succumb to SocieTHEY peer pressure, we buy into what marketers push, and we’re “instagramified.” These outside influences create cravings within us, and if we haven’t developed a wealth mindset, we give in to those cravings. We spend, spend and spend again.
The harmful effects of financial pressure
A showy sum of money that does not derive from real wealth can cause significant financial problems. These financial difficulties can, in turn, ruin your health, your marriage, and even your children’s relationship with money. Conversely, eliminating financial stressors from your life is one of the surest ways to regain peace of mind.
Several scientific studies have investigated the link between wealth and positive health outcomes. Several studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between financial stability and personal well-being, both mental and physical. Researchers have also found that anxiety about financial issues can negatively impact heart health and cause people to engage in behaviors that can take years off their lives, such as smoking and overeating. Research shows that money sickness is real, and that chronic financial pressure can cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Financial difficulties can also end marriages and break up families. Money is one of the top three causes of divorce with challenges ranging from conflicting financial goals and spending habits to the pressure of excessive debt to power imbalances caused by a spouse bringing in a lot more money. that the other.
Our children are also affected by our money problems. One of my students told me how her mother had trouble getting up on the first and fifteenth day of the month – when the bills were due. To this day, my student experiences anxiety on the first and fifteenth of the month, even though she is financially stable. She inherited her money disease from her mother despite having a large emergency fund, savings and investments, including her own home. Children can feel the anxiety caused by money problems. As a result, they may also end up having a difficult relationship with money when they become adults.
Financial mental health: how the CB4UB method can change your relationship with money
Let’s talk about getting your financial sanity in order. My mantra in practicing financial mindfulness is “Crawl Before You Ball” or, in short, CB4UB. Save before you spend. A belated thank you. Understand the difference between something that is truly a “need” and something that is simply a “want.” Fund that emergency savings account – my recommendation is two years of spending to give you breathing space in an emergency – before trying to live a lifestyle that will expose you and your family, at financial risk. My grandmother shared her version of CB4UB with me: “Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do later. His financial sanity allowed him to save and invest, passing on a solid foundation of financial well-being to his children and grandchildren.
Getting your financial sanity in order by following the CB4UB philosophy is a process that first requires an honest assessment of the current state of your finances, as well as an acknowledgment of your past financial mistakes. Yes, these steps are necessary, and yes, they can be painful, especially when sharing this information with your spouse and family. But possessing these truths – as difficult and embarrassing as they are – will wipe the slate clean and start you on a new path to improving your financial sanity – and your financial situation.
In addition to creating a workable plan with your partner and family to save money, CB4UB forces you to practice financial mindfulness by blocking the pressures of SocieTHEY, advertising, and social media. Letting go of what others may think becomes easier when you celebrate small changes in your spending behavior, see your financial cushion increase, and feel your financial pressure ease. By practicing the CB4UB principles, you take control of your money and stop letting it control you.
Our best life is not about having the best things. It’s a matter of peace of mind. It’s being able to make decisions without money being a factor. It’s teaching the next generation of your family the benefits of having a healthy respect and positive relationship with money. Over time, practicing the principles of CB4UB can turn your income into wealth that can buy you financial freedom – the freedom to choose what work you do, how you spend your time, and to worry about being able to take care of yourself. of you and your family. in an emergency. And when you free yourself from the anxiety of living paycheck to paycheck, the first of the month just becomes another more peaceful and joyful day in your life.
Written by Buffie Purselle.
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