Many people confuse financial wellness and financial education. Though they sound very similar, financial education is merely a subset of financial wellness. Financial wellness consists not only of financial knowledge (education) but also of healthy behaviors and empowering beliefs. Some of your employees have the head or book knowledge required to be financially well but lack the behaviors and beliefs to make it a reality. Others lack the knowledge necessary to take action to create lasting financial health that is one pillar of a fulfilling life.
The term “wellness” did not enter the English lexicon until 1957. Dictionary.com defines it as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” As with other kinds of wellness, like physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual, financial wellness does not happen by accident. It requires sustained effort over a lifetime.
Imagine that you have an employee named Brenda. Brenda is a sedentary person who one day wakes up and desires to complete a marathon. She knows a marathon is 26.2 miles and that she must train to complete the distance. Unfortunately, this knowledge alone will not make it happen. She must take the HUGE first step of getting off of the couch. She must then take deliberate action every day to achieve her goal. At first, completing one mile creates a cause for celebration. After first going a mile, two becomes her natural next target. Over time, Brenda can complete a 5k and a half-marathon. As her success increases, she develops the behaviors and beliefs that enable her to make an attempt at the marathon length. She might succeed on the first attempt, or she might have to try multiple times to complete the 26.2-mile distance. She could achieve the target, celebrate, and vow to do it again even faster the next time. Not only does reaching the goal of running a marathon require running regularly over increasing distances, it also requires discipline in other areas of life. Moving from a sedentary lifestyle to one of a marathoner requires Brenda to get additional sleep, eat well, and sacrifice leisure time to get in necessary training.
Moving from a state of financial sedentariness to financial wellness requires the HUGE first step off of the figurative couch. It then demands deliberate activity and discipline in other areas of life. If Brenda is not financially well, but plans to continue spending beyond her means, she will remain on the financial couch. Beyond budgeting, financial wellness requires Brenda (and all of your employees) to evaluate her life and align her values with a plan that allows her to become financially healthy as a result of deliberate effort.
At the Foundation for Financial Wellness, we know that everyone’s knowledge and comfort level with investing is different, so we’ve created tools to be flexible and guide your employees into the areas that they need the most. Our Five Essentials Program starts at the beginning, complete with behaviors and psychology, and leads the user down the path to intentionally creating an investing plan that will lead to sustainable retirement and a lasting legacy.
If your company wants to take action and learn more about educational programs, certifications, or coaching for you and your employees, contact us at www.foundationforfinancialwellness.org. We are a not-for-profit entity simply looking to make a difference. Learn how to Handle Life (and your money) Better.