Now I wanna start by saying that I am by no means a master of personal finances – in fact, I definitely still consider myself to be a beginner. However, because of my time as a Peer Money Mentor Leader I can say I have come a LONG way and gained A LOT of knowledge. The biggest thing that helped me establish a sense of financial wellness is realizing how much stress plays a role in my finances. Approaching my finances with this awareness in mind is what made me implement and create my “3 Ps to Maintaining Financial Wellness”.
From using the money management resource iGrad, I learned that about 34% of people have “never had a financial plan before.” To me, this says that 34% of people could possibly be so stressed about money that they don’t even want to think about it. I assume this because, not long ago, that was exactly how I felt. It wasn’t until I began to learn about HOW to maintain my finances that I realized most of that stress came from the fear of the unknown. For me, preparation means creating a budget, tracking your expenses, opening an emergency fund/retirement/savings, and gaining knowledge about finances. These things help me feel in control of where my hard earned cash is going. By taking control and facing the unknown, I have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced my financial stress.
I regularly utilize the resources and tools on the Student Money Management Office site.
But for me, it wasn’t until I personalized these tools that I actually got in the habit of using them.
For example, when you go to the website and look under the “Plan” tab, you’ll see an awesome expense tracker template that you can download and use for your own personal expense tracking. But in order to get myself to use it every week, I had to change it up to look a little more “me.” I kept all the excel formulas but changed the font, color scheme, etc. and now when I look at it, I WANT to use it. I also correlated this concept into the monthly budgeting template. Along with the aesthetic changes to these tools, I also personalized them to fit my financial goals. My budget looks like no one else’s budget, it looks like my budget. The same goes for all of the other things I do to “prepare.” My savings and the financial knowledge I need to find and study— all of it is personalized to what I need in order to create financial wellness.
It took me YEARS to get into habits that help me maintain my financial wellness. Even today, I’m still working to create more of these habits. Like any other skill: It. Takes. Practice. There would be weeks where I wasn’t so on top of tracking my expenses or months where I couldn’t stick to my budget. I eventually implemented a routine of “Money Mondays” where every Monday I dedicate time to look at my finances and practice what I preach. Reevaluating your financial situation, finding new resources on financial knowledge, having conversations about finances with those you trust – there are many things to practice while maintaining financial wellness. For some people, like myself, it’s a really big step just to get started— or to even learn what financial wellness means. What’s important is to be patient with yourself and to remember that maintaining financial wellness is a journey, not a destination.
I’ll end this with a little analogy. Maintaining financial wellness is like gardening. You have to know how to take care of plants (prepare), choose which plants you want to grow (personalize), and take care of them and be patient (practice). Now ask yourself – what can you do today to help grow your garden of financial wellness?