There are few topics as personal and emotional as finances. I’ve witnessed some of the most intelligent people become sweaty and flustered at the mere mention of it. I’ve watched the calmest people I know fly off the handle while discussing the topic. Financial health seems to be one of those topics that people either love or loathe.
But what if I told you there were ways to improve your financial health that had nothing to do with money? Whether you’re a broke college student or a retiree with a multi-million-dollar portfolio, these seven tips will help you improve your financial health. And none of them have anything to do with saving, investing, or getting a raise.
7 Habits for Financial Health
1 – Be Grateful for Everything You Already Have
Have you ever given a gift to a child and they acted like it was the greatest thing they’ve ever received in their life? Maybe they said something like, “Thank you so much. This is exactly what I always wanted and I love it.” Then they followed up with a big bear hug and proceeded to show everyone else the gift they just received.
It’s one of the best feelings when someone shows gratitude for the gifts we give them. Whether it’s a thoughtful trinket or simply our time, being appreciated inspires us to give more.
I think the same is true for our bank accounts. When we show gratitude for everything we already have, we attract more. When we look at our situation with fear and resentment, we repel the abundance that’s trying to find us.
This isn’t just about your bank account. Express gratitude for all the goodness you have in your life. Be grateful for your good health, loving spouse, friends, and the sunshine because it’s all connected.
2 – Stop Comparing
I think it’s natural to compare ourselves to others. But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s helpful. We tend to be our own harshest critics which can interfere with our ability to appreciate what we already have. The other problem with comparing is that we never really know someone else’s full story. It’s easy to look past someone else’s everyday struggles and just focus on what’s going right for them.
Instead of comparing yourself with others, measure the progress you make daily. Look at how far you’ve come over the last week, year, and 10 years. That’s a much more effective way to measure your success.
3 – Stop Worrying About What Other People Think
Like comparing, I think it’s safe to say we all struggle with this from time to time. I’m not afraid to admit that I deal with this too. Especially when I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something for the first time like going live with my blog, selling my first ebook, and my first guest appearance on a podcast.
Remember that you’re probably harder on yourself than anyone else. You might be thinking, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I did that. While everyone else is thinking, wow, how brave.
Now consider how much time you spend thinking about other people. You’re probably so busy creating your own best life that you don’t have much time to think about what your neighbor, sister, or best friend are up to. The same is true for other people thinking about you. And that’s not to say we’re all self-centered, we just have a lot going on.
In 1928 the syndicated humorist Robert Quillen wrote: “Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.” A little bit of humor and a whole lot of truth makes this one the most common personal finance quotes to this day. More recently, it’s been attributed to Will Rogers, Dave Ramsey, and the movie Fight Club. No matter who you give credit to, it’s a great example of how worrying about what other people think can damage our financial health.Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like. — Robert Quillen Click To Tweet
4 – Stop Spending Money on Things that Don’t Bring You Joy
As we make our way through adulthood, it’s easy to fall into autopilot and plug away at what we think we’re supposed to do even if it’s not a good fit. Not everyone is cut out for college. It’s okay to not want to get married and have a family. And you don’t need to get a mortgage that’s four times your annual income. There are no rules for living your best life. You get to play by your own rules.
This starts by learning about what’s really important to you. For example, my health and my marriage come first. So if I had a high paying job that threatened either of those two areas, I could easily make a decision about what I had to do next. If you haven’t taken time to think about what you value most in your life, check out this link.
When it comes to money, only spend on things that bring you joy. This is different for everyone and that’s wonderful. My husband, Jer, and I will probably never have a beautifully decorated home because we would rather be out on adventures than sitting in said home. I’m more likely to buy a new tent than a new sofa. But I know lots of people who love to entertain and invest in their homes. And that’s just as wonderful because I love it when they invite me over for fancy dinners.
5 – Let Go of Fear and Scarcity
Work to cultivate an abundance mindset. This is another thing that’s hard for so many of us because it’s rooted in some of our earliest experiences with money. If you grew up in a family that believed that the little guy can’t get ahead or that everyone’s out to screw you over, you’re more likely to hold onto what you have more tightly. The problem is that when your fist is so tightly clenched holding your dollar, there’s no space for another dollar to slip in.
Scarcity comes from believing that there’s a fixed amount of something: time, money, love, or anything else we value. We falsely believe that when someone gets a $10,000 raise, there’s $10,000 less to go around. That’s simply not how it works. You can learn more about this concept in this post. I hope it inspires you to live with less fear and more abundance.
6 – Practice Personal Accountability
In most cases, you’re in the financial situation you’re in because of your choices. So be careful not to blame and make excuses. The government isn’t great at handling money, but your current situation is not the government’s fault. Nor are your parents, spouse, or employer to blame. You are where you are because of the decisions you made.
But guess what? You can choose to make different choices and you can start today. Take your power back and practice personal accountability.Your success as a family… our success as a nation… depends not on what happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your house. ― Barbara Bush Click To Tweet
7 – Educate Yourself
Financial literacy is not taught in most schools. So unless you grew up with parents or mentors who taught you how to manage your resources, you probably didn’t enter adulthood knowing a lot. If you want things to be different you need to educate yourself. The great news is that there are a plethora of resources available to you.
Since you’re here, you might as well start with my blog. One of my favorite pieces of content is The Surprising Benefits of Financial Freedom. It’s an inspiring post that shows you once again that financial health is about more than money.
Download and listen to podcasts on the topic. Here’s a great episode for beginners and enthusiasts alike.
Check out TED Talks or other inspiring videos online. Here’s one of my favorites. When you’re finished you can use the search tool to find more.
Once you’re feeling inspired, dig a little deeper by reading or listening to good books. Choose at least three different authors so you can take their knowledge and create a plan that works for you. I’ve read a lot of personal finance books and have yet to find one I agree with 100 percent.
Here are some of my favorite books in the order I suggest reading them.
Get added accountability by attending classes and seminars. Check Facebook for local events, search meetup.com, or see what local churches and civic groups have to offer. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky few whose employer offers financial fitness as a part of your benefits package. Check with your HR department and if it’s not available, get to work selling them on the benefits.
Last but not least, consider working with a personal coach. If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know what to do first, a coach can help you prioritize based on your values and personal goals. You can check out my coaching packages here.
Improving your financial health is important. There will come a time when each of us will no longer be able to work and will depend on what we set aside when we were younger. Not only that, our financial health spills into every other corner of our lives. It can affect our physical health if we’re constantly stressed about making ends meet. It destroys marriages when both parties aren’t on the same page with their values and goals. But our financial health is not something we’re destined to fall victim to. It’s something we have the power to change.
Knowledge is only part of the equation. Things really start to change when put that knowledge to work. Pick one thing from the list and start implementing it in your life today.
What other ways have you improved your financial health? Share in the comments below or come start a conversation on Facebook.