Financial well-being is creating a lifestyle with margin, autonomy, surplus, and contentment. It is the willingness to live with margin. Margin is a comfortable gap between your monthly take-home pay and your monthly expenses. When you have margin in your finances it provides you with autonomy. Autonomy is your ability to self-govern, control your finances and readily recognize unhelpful spending habits. It is controlling your finances and not let them control you. Controlling your finances allows you to create a surplus.
Surplus when there is money left over at month-end and when you are able to save and invest on a regular basis. When there is adequate surplus you are on your way to a state of contentment. Contentment is when the is peace and fulfillment in your life. To obtain financial well-being four things should happen.
1. Develop the right mindset – You must begin to think “accumulation” instead of “consumption.” Decide what kind of life you want. Seek to acquire a growth mindset. A growth mindset is when you realize that your skills and talents can and should be developed through hard work, good decision-making, and help from others. As a young adult, I had consumption or a fixed mindset, I saved money to buy what I wanted; later in life, I learned to manage money to have the life I wanted. I discovered that I did not know what I did not know. My aspirations had been fueled by my limited knowledge, and now I know what is possible.
2. Gain more understanding – Many people do not know where they stand financially. They know that they are behind, not getting ahead, feel pressure; but they don’t understand why things are the way they are for them. They seek to blame the economy, cost of living, not earning enough, or lack of opportunities. In most instances, it is their unplanned and uncontrollable spending that is the problem. The effective financial tool to date, to help you know where you stand is a “budget.” A budge provides context and boundaries to help you effectively manage your finances.
“Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore, get wisdom and in all of your getting, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)
3. Get help – Unless your parents taught you financial success principles or you received formal training, you likely will not know how to achieve financial well-being. A person rarely achieve success in any endeavor with help of some kind. There are plenty of resources available to help you gain basic knowledge and understanding of how to manage your finances. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. Use resources in your community, such as banks and credit unions. Attend workshops or enroll in online classes for training in financial literacy. Be prepared to hire a financial advisor at some point in your journey to financial well-being.
4. Create a plan – No one begins a journey without first determining what they want and what it will take to get there. A plan is a speculative roadmap starting from where you are leading to where you plan to go. You won’t know all the details, things will change along the way, but at least start with a general outline of what you want to happen. Your financial plan should include at a minimum these three things:
- Give – give a percentage of your take-home pay to God or charitable causes.
- Save – save a percentage of your take-home pay for purchases.
- Invest – invest a percentage of your income to build wealth and security