Unlike many financial advisors, I believe using a holistic approach to finance and well-being aligns all aspects of your life and resources.
I truly believe it’s all connected!
From your finances to your peace of mind to the enjoyability of life to relationships. I believe it’s all intertwined, and about so much more than just periodically checking your bank account or credit cards.
Frankly, most people tend to look at the various areas of their personal finances one at a time and/or with different professionals, in a compartmentalized way.
They evaluate their debt: loans, mortgages, and credit cards.
Then, they might assess their spending: groceries, clothing, and taxes.
Then they’ll pop over to their brokerage accounts for stocks and bonds, 401k, rental properties, etc.
All without ever pulling it all together into one picture that lets them breathe peacefully and sleep easily at night.
Why do they do this?
Well, when it comes to finances, often it’s challenging to see the forest through the trees.
Instead of looking at the whole picture, many people deal with things as they arise, one issue at a time. To make matters worse, in today’s hectic world, many important financial matters are dealt with in an “emergency” manner.
Instead of planning, it’s more like ‘management by crisis’.
Ever rush to get your taxes done just before the filing deadline? Hurry to get your annual employee benefits election form back to HR? Dash to an attorney to update your Will just before taking a trip overseas?
The Two Aspects of True Financial Wellness
A primary area of financial wellness boils down to having a handle on two things…
1) Income – what’s coming in – what you actually take home each month and year.
2) Expenses – what’s going out – what you’re spending each month, and what you’re saving for your short-term and long-term future goals.
The word “budget” has taken on the same negative connotation as the word “diet.” It immediately makes people think they have to restrict their spending just like a diet forces you to starve. Of course, none of this reflects reality.
In fact, it doesn’t need to be as tough as you might think.
Just as a diet may initially involve logging what you eat, a budget or spending plan begins with simply identifying where your money goes.
This is the first step to getting clear on where your cash flows. The next step involves changing the perspective to planning where you would like to direct your spending in the future, or a more positive, “future-based spending plan.”
With financial wellness, you’re not restricting yourself in any way. As a matter of fact, you’re focused on the future, your goals, and how you’d like to live!
After this, it’s important to think about what you want most out of life, and how your savings will contribute to this. What lifestyle do you picture yourself living? Will you be funding it via various IRAs, 401ks, and things of that nature?
You then need to add in certain things that are unpredictable like home appliances breaking, unexpected illnesses, emergency trips, and the like.
The last part of your holistic financial wellness picture is about estate planning.
Do you have a Will? Who will get your inheritance? Do you have a Power of Attorney? What about insurance? These are the important questions that round out your picture.
The One Catch With Achieving a Financially Healthy State
There’s a catch that can trip people up with financial wellness – usually exhibited in two types of personalities:
1) The “Do-It-Yourselfer” – Typically this person wants to figure it all out for themselves, track their own budgets, research and manage their own investments, set up all of their Wills, POAs, and do their own taxes.
Then, there’s the other personality:
2) The “Compartmentalizer” – The compartmentalizer does actually seek out the help of professionals, however, it’s usually a different professional for each area. For instance – a CPA for tax time. An insurance agent for their insurance. An attorney for estate planning. In most instances, these professionals don’t know each other.
All of this can be extremely difficult for people who want to have the integrated, holistic approach I mentioned earlier. A full picture takes into account each of these aspects and more and most importantly prioritizes enjoying the process, your lifestyle, and the freedom it brings!
The Conclusion to Holistic Financial Wellness
Financial wellness is a lifestyle. A set of consistent habits, if you like! It’s having the discipline to be proactive about your finances in all areas:
- Your debt (both good and bad)
- Your income (active and passive), cash flows and savings,
- Your necessary monthly expenses, budget, and planning ahead, and
- Your lifestyle, enjoyment, experiences, and relationships
All of these points flow from a healthy, financial wellness picture.
If one aspect is off, or not optimized as it should be, it can really sabotage the rest. But if you’re firing on all cylinders, financial worries and stress simply become a distant memory, because you’ve tuned up your financial intelligence significantly.
Working on building a strong financial wellness is a core of my practice as a CFP® Practitioner. If right now you’re committed to building a more healthy, holistic picture, so you can enjoy your time with family and friends, not stress out so much about your money situation, and have a stronger handle on things, and most of all…
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.