Financial Wellness- How and Why?

Title page reading "financial wellness, how and why?" with a picture of woman holding a coin purse.
Title reading "Financial Wellness, How and Why?" with a woman holding a large coin purse.

My sister taught me about the importance of tracking my money. She is 15 years older than me and was trying to help me build good money habits. When I started working at 16 I would use Quicken to track my spending. I thought I was good. 

Fast forward, I’m in my 30’s and living paycheck to paycheck. I knew where my money was going, but I continued to spend it. What I wasn’t taught was how to make my money work for me. I wasn’t taught how to save my money. 

There was a time in my 20’s where my parents had to help me pay off some credit cards so I could stop stressing so much about how I was going to pay them. I didn’t learn my lesson and continued to use my credit cards to fund a lifestyle I couldn’t afford. 

It really messed with my head. I had a career that I thought was paying me pretty well. I was sitting on a massive amount of student debt with four degrees in my name, but I was told that was good debt. 

Looking back, I realize now that I would spend money to make myself feel better, to appease what I thought others expected of me. There is a connection between mental wellness and financial wellness. I figured Financial Literacy Month would be a good time to share my story.  

My Journey Toward Financial Wellness

It wasn’t until planning my wedding when I realized that I wasn’t that good with money. I reduced my spending but I still wasn’t saving. I was making significantly more money, but that just meant I spent more. 

One of the recommendations from a wedding magazine was to discuss finances with your partner in order to set a budget for the wedding. It was then that I realized that my partner would pay his credit cards off in full every month and wouldn’t spend more than he could afford but he wasn’t saving money either. 

Since we were paying for the wedding ourselves, it was time for us to start saving money. We semi-budgeted but both of us were new to that concept. This was the time when I started taking more control of our money. 

picture of a wedding budget spreadsheet listing vendors and estimated cost.

Fast forward a few years. We were able to pay off our wedding only because I got a huge vacation payout from a district I was working in. Looking back, I wish I was better with my money because that money could have helped us achieve more of our goals. 

We have a 3 ½ year old now and recently celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary. It took me wanting to take a year off when our little one was born to force me to learn more about budgeting. I was still figuring things out when the pandemic hit. 

It was a blessing in disguise, and I don’t say that lightly, but that is when I had even more time to binge listen to podcasts, read more blogs and books about money. We went from living paycheck to paycheck to now having multiple savings, investment, and retirement accounts. 

One of my proudest moments was paying off our Tesla Model X. I never would have imagined doing that. It was during a conversation with a loan agent trying to get pre-approved for a home loan when he taught me how much we would end up paying for that car if we were only paying the minimum amount. It blew me away and lit the fire under me to pay it off and get on top of our money. 

Throughout that process of learning about money, budgeting, and saving, I realized how much of an impact it was having on my mental health. I am not a financial educator and I am still learning but I am in a place now where I don’t stress out while paying bills. 

Not only do I track our spending but we create monthly budgets and savings goals. I feel confident about our retirement plan and creating generational wealth. Our wellness is made up of more than mental health, financial wellness is an important component. 

How Finances Impact Wellness

Through years of therapy I discovered that I was afraid of not having money so I would overspend as a form of survival. 42% of Americans say money negatively impacts their mental health. Feeling stressed was one of the top responses in that article. 

WebMd defines financial wellness as “a state where you’re able to fully meet your money-related needs right now and later on in life.” Research shows that finances are the number one source of stress. Being financially stressed reduces your ability to get support such as therapy or coaching to help you with your mental health and in turn financial wellness.  

Money can influence the way we think, feel, and act. I notice a difference between how I felt about money before my wedding to how I feel about it now. It is possible and such a relief. There is something you can do to help you with your financial stress. Let’s discuss that next. 

How to Start Your Journey Towards Financial Wellness

Community is a huge part of our wellness, and it is the same when you’re trying to get your money right. In my last blog I listed the podcasts that impacted my wellness, and not surprisingly a lot of them where finance podcasts. I built an online community that talked about money. 

Start there, build your community. I now call her my IG Comadre, but Soledad from Wealth Para Todos was a huge help when I was just getting started. She would answer all of my questions and was an overall support in helping me budget and save. 

Follow accounts on social media that teach about money in a way you connect to the information. Some of my favorites include @mydaily dinero, @wearesuma, @missbehelpful, and @inluzwetrust. They all offer so much information about money with a Latinx POV. They may even offer virtual courses and events, that’s what gave me the confidence to get serious with my financial wellness journey.

If you like YouTube, an account I found helpful was First Gen Money. One of the videos I found helpful was “Money Checklists, to dos Before 2023.” She discusses some helpful items for the amount of time you have, from 5 to 15 minutes. She breaks things down and shares her life experiences with money.

Listen to podcasts like Yo Quiero Dinero Podcast, Journey to Launch, and Popcorn Finance. From those podcasts I was able to learn more about investing, side hustles, emergency funds and more. They offer free resources and break these concepts down in a way you can easily access. They also introduced me to different people to follow through guest interviews. 

Read books about money!! I started by reading The Budgetnista, Tiffany Aliche’s OG book, “The One Week Budget: Learn to Create your Money Management System in 7 days or Less.” That book was so easy to read and take action on. That is what got me started on finding the right budgeting system for me. I am now on the road to financial wholeness after reading her latest book “Get Good With Money.” 

Some other books that I read on my financial wellness journey  that you may find helpful include:

Hopefully the resources I used working towards financial wellness will inspire you to join this journey. I am still learning and instead of feeling overwhelmed like I did in the beginning, I now feel hopeful. 

My Reflection

I’m hablando wellness because I am on a journey of being well, this includes more than mental health. I see how much financial wellness has impacted my life, I want to share what I learned in hopes that it may help others as well. The main thing to know is that we don’t have to do this on our own. 

We are on this journey juntos. Follow me on Instagram @hablandowellness so you don’t miss when the next blog comes out.

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