When was the last time you sat down to dinner with family or friends and had a nice long talk about money? If you’re thinking never, you’re certainly not alone.

Most of us consider money a taboo topic even though it plays such a huge role in our lives. The problem with this type of thinking is that we never learn to properly understand and manage the emotions money can invoke. This typically leads to stress, and financial stress can have a major impact on our mental, and even physical health. 

The value of our financial accounts shouldn’t determine our value or self-worth — but more often than not, how much is in our bank account directly impacts how we feel. But this no longer has to be the way we react to money matters.

Here are 9 tips to increase your financial and overall well being, and you’ll soon feel healthier, wealthier, and happier.


1. Money isn't a metric for happiness

The first step towards improving your financial well being is realizing that more money doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness (Notorious B.I.G. had it right — Mo Money Mo Problems!) In fact, a 2010 Princeton University study revealed there is a correlation between money and happiness at an income of $75,000 per year, but making $75k+ that doesn’t necessarily make you more happy. 

A paper co-published by 3 psychologists (from Harvard, University of British Columbia, and University of Virginia) titled “If Money Doesn't Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren't Spending It Right,” concluded and suggested 8 ways for consumers to get more happiness from their money:

    • Buy more experiences, fewer material items
    • Spend on others instead of yourself
    • Enjoy many small pleasures over fewer larger ones
    • Forget extended warranties and overpriced insurance
    • Delay consumption (gratification)
    • Consider how purchases affect day-to-day lives
    • Beware of comparison shopping
    • Pay attention to the happiness of others


2. Face the numbers

If thinking about money or your financial situation causes stress or anxiety, it can be easy to avoid it. This could mean you have a stack of bills you haven’t opened. It could also mean that you use your credit cards regularly, but have no idea how much total debt you actually owe. This avoidant behavior can wreak havoc on your financial well being. 

There is no better time than now to face the music (I mean the numbers!) Start by checking your credit report and score. This will give you a good idea of where you stand and your total debt. Open statements and bills. Make a list of accounts, balances, and minimum payments. Knowing these numbers is the first step towards taking charge of your money. Don’t delay the inevitable, start tackling your finances today.


3. Put the credit cards away

Carrying credit card debt can weigh on you emotionally and prevent you from making progress towards your financial goals. If you aren’t able to pay off the full balance each month, then it’s time to stop using credit cards (even if you get points) and start using cash or a debit card. 

Spending less than you earn is the basic rule of financial planning, and if you’re carrying a balance on your credit card then you’re likely overextending yourself. Switch to cash and try to pay off debt as quickly as possible. It probably won’t be easy, but it will give you freedom. 


4. Stop comparing yourself to others

Have you ever checked a friend’s Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest page and felt a twinge of jealousy? In this age of social media, it’s too easy to compare yourself to others. Trying to “keep up with the Joneses” is harmful to your financial and mental well being. 

When it does become overwhelming, take a break from all social media.  When you’re ready to log back on, use your accounts to connect with friends and family that have a positive influence on your life. It’s more important to focus on you and your goals and less on others. 

And a quick reminder – what’s presented online, isn’t necessarily reality.


5. Read money books that will help you grow

To be in the mindset of always learning and finding ways to improve or enhance all areas of your life, especially your financial life, is a great way to live life. This means reading books that will teach you new things about money — whether it’s on money mindset, the stock market or even on ways to improve your financial life. You are never too old to keep learning new ways, tips, and strategies to help you on your financial journey. 

6. Help others & give back to your community

When we think about improving our finances we are typically focused on ourselves - what goals we have, what we need to feel financially satisfied. Sometimes taking the focus off ourselves and thinking about others is the key to improving our outlook. 

Scientific research shows that helping others really does increase our happiness. There are lots of ways to give back, and they don’t have to involve donating money. According to a study in Social Science & Medicine, a person who volunteers more than monthly, but less than weekly is 12% more likely to report being very happy and a person who volunteers weekly is 16% more likely to report being very happy. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/teen-angst/201701/achieving-happiness-helping-others


7. Invest in your well being

Investing in your well being can improve so many areas of your life. Take time for yourself each day to exercise or meditate. Meditation has several benefits  (Facts below came from CompareCamp.com, a leading SaaS software comparison site for corporations):

    • Reduces insomnia by 50%
    • Reduces PTSD by 70%
    • Reduce anxiety by 60% after 6-9 months of consistent practice
    • Relieve back pain by 30%
    • Improves energy and aids in memory, retention, and focus

Exercise is also linked to improved mental health. According to a 2009 study from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, running for 15 minutes a day (or walking for 1 hour) reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. 

This improved sense of “well being” will allow for better, clearer, and more intelligent decision making when it comes to your financial future.


8. Mental health affects financial health

How we feel about ourselves and our lives can have a big impact on our financial decisions. We may find ourselves using our money as a way to cope with emotional problems we’re afraid to confront or not being able to make the best decisions with our money because we’re dealing with depression or anxiety. 

Meet with a therapist or life coach. Check to see if your health insurance will cover the costs. There are many options outside of therapy easily available today like the Bullet Journal (popular organizational journal), Gratitude Journal (daily gratitude), Day One Journal (journaling to better health), Pzizz (sleep-tracker), and Daylio (mood-tracker).

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s more than okay. It takes strength and courage and will help you live your best life. 


9. Subscribe to positivity and community

Learn to lessen money’s grip on your life. Invite humor, creativity, and inspiration in! Changing the internal conversation will translate to outer results: less seriousness, more sincerity.

Following these 9 tips may not always be easy. You may have to confront areas of your life that you’ve avoided and deal with emotional baggage that has weighed you down for far too long. It takes work, effort, awareness, and consciousness, but the payoff is huge. You’ll feel confident, grounded, and in control of your life and your financial future. 


About Learn

Financial advice for real people, by real people. You shouldn't need a degree to understand your money. Join Head of Education, Brittney Castro and Altruist mentors as they break down financial tips and strategies in a real way to help you finally understand how to achieve your financial goals faster.

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