Do you always find yourself with more bills than money? Feel like you are a slave to your debt? It’s no surprise. One of the biggest things us grown folks freak out about is money. Not only is money ruining our fun but it’s also taking a toll on our mental health. Let’s see if we can get your financial freedom and your mental health back in good shape.
Finding Financial Freedom
Money is a driving force for most adults. We need it to eat, feel safe, and care for our family and ourselves. Almost everything we do leads back to money. The decisions we make: if we are having steak or ground beef. Whether we can go to a movie or go home. What we can give our kid for birthday presents? Money has a lot of control.
What happens when money is in control? Our mental health goes downhill.
Money straight up stresses us out. And why wouldn’t it?
Stress can cause health problems. You may forgo health care in order to save money.
Spend sleepless nights thinking of all the bills you need to pay.
High stress levels can even effect your appetite. Some people like me crave all the sugary feel good feelings from food, while others forgo eating period.
Stress can cause you to lash out at friends and family. This will leave you lonely and the people you care about most upset.
Stress can cause you to be unhappy about events or purchases that would normally be seen as positive. A new pair of shoes, a birthday present from your spouse, going on a date not any fun due to money woes.
If you are short on cash you may start feeling as if everything is hopeless and fall into depression. Depression can lead to weight gain, an unhealthy social life, speech problems, and a host of other health issues.
Money problems can make you extremely anxious. How will you make ends meet, how will your child have a good birthday? Can you really afford to spend money on the extra bottle of shampoo? How will you pay for childcare during the summer? How will you make ends meet when you are always one step behind?
Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of money that is always being asked for? You are not alone. College loans, medical bills, and mortgages can leave us all with more debt than we can even imagine. It’s tempting to shy away from the mountain of debt that is looming in front of you.
Resentment comes to the table once debt becomes part of a partnership. Partners can start to resent each other if their spending styles are different or if one has more debt than the other. One of you is a spender and one is a saver? This can cause all kinds of problems in an otherwise healthy relationship.
I think everything you just read should have made you angry. You should be, you are busting your booty most days of the week for what? All this stuff? All these services? It just isn’t fair and you are probably about fed up! How does money always have the control?
What if there is never enough? What if I lose my job and lose my kids and my home? How will I keep my family safe? What if they take legal action against me because I cannot get this money monkey off my back?
What if there is no way out? What is the point of being an adult? It’s awful, such a grind. Get up get your family ready, go to work, come home and work more, pay bills. Rinse and repeat. You may ask yourself, what in the world is the point and why am I living like this. There has to be something more.
While some folks think of how much money they don’t have every minute of the day others bury their heads in the sand. Denial only offers a Band-Aid and often leads to a debt avalanche. What once might have been an easy fix could now take over your entire world.
Shame and embarrassment
Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. As kids, no one ever told us how much money would control our lives. Not going out to social events that seem fantastic because you might not be able to pay bills at the end of the month. Embarrassment when your friends seem to have a glamorous life and you are sitting at the table using a candlestick for light and slurping down some 15 cent ramen because that is what’s left in your budget.
Affecting your quality of life
If you haven’t guessed it, money really screws with your quality of life. If you let it. I’m not sure why they don’t teach us this important life skill in school. We have to learn how to turn the scenario around. We need to be controlling the money, not the other way around.
How do we make life about enjoyment and not about money?
We have to gain financial freedom. Financial Freedom means something different to everyone. What you have to do is not let it be a frivolous thought that you are striving for never to reach. Figure out what it means to you:
- Go on adventures
- Learn to play guitar
- Bake A Cake
- Curl up and Read a Good Book
- Take a Hike in the Mountains
- Travel the World
Balance your monetary goals with your happiness goals for a custom path to financial freedom that is just right for you!
Positive Effects of Financial Freedom
Relief from the money hound breathing down your neck.
Happiness. You can be thankful and grateful for the gifts you give and receive. Go out and spend time with friends and family and enjoy yourself to the fullest.
Less worry. It’s a great feeling not to have to think about your next set of bills putting you one step away from living under the freeway.
Improvements in physical and mental health. You will have more energy to get up and exercise and you will be in a much better mood. Good moods breed better sleep, more fulfillment in daily activities, a greater peace of mind leading to less stress and anxiety. Feelings of safety and security will be yours.
Every day can feel like Christmas. Wake up early with excitement and wonder. Not able to contain your joy just to live and experience every day in the moment.
You worry less about being fired, about someone else always controlling your happiness.
To give gifts, travel, help out financially and feel happy and not resentful or worried about it the contributions you made. Won’t it be great not to worry about paying off the Christmas season for the next six months?
Pay for emergencies. What about the next time an emergency comes up? Hot water heaters break and can cause havoc, wouldn’t be awesome to have the extra funds so there is no extra burden put on your well-being?
Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey:
- Pay Bills On Time
- Don’t spend Money before it comes in
- Don’t spend all extra money frivolously
- Try building a safety net, this security blanket will give you some peace of mind and allow you to relax a little, knowing that if an emergency happens you will be somewhat prepared.
- Make debt payment a priority
- Don’t owe anyone you don’t have to
- Make a financial budget and start cutting the fat
- Pay off the smallest debt first and get yourself a win. Use the payment for the bill you paid off plus the monthly amount for your next smallest bill to make a larger payment and payoff your next smallest bill quicker.
Your Financial Freedom
After food, shelter, and well-being are taken care of what does it take to make you happy? Where are you content? There is only one way to get away from always needing more.
There is no magic number or special level you have to reach. It’s about what matters to you. Your financial freedom may be completely different from everyone else you know. See if you and your spouse can meet in the middle or work toward some common goals and respect each other’s individual goals.
A happy medium is needed to enjoy life because only right now is guaranteed.
You also need to have a safety net because you will most likely have many tomorrows.
I have included some worksheets with this article so you can get started figuring out what financial freedom means to you and how to start seeing improvements in your mental health!
After you have filled out the worksheets you can make a game plan for achieving goals.
Planning with Your Significant Other
Sit down and brainstorm. This can be silly or serious, hopefully a little of both.
Compromise and plan. Share your lists and see where they overlap. Communicate with each other to come up with solutions to difference of opinion.
Guidelines. Set some rules.You have to stand up for what you believe in and you have to be willing to honor your significant others values as well. In order for the compromises you all reached set up ways you will respect each other’s decisions. Stick to the rules. Don’t bully your spouse and don’t allow yourself to be bullied.
If you don’t stick to your guns and allow the other person to take, take and take you will be resentful. This goes both ways.
Keep the Peace With Your Partner
A solution we have used in the past that has worked really well for us was separate checking accounts for play money. Make it 100% just yours or 100% just theirs. This gives everyone some freedom and control. This is especially great if you and your significant other are very different in what is important and what isn’t.
Everyone will have different opinions just make sure you both stay out of each other’s freedom of choice money. This allows you to buy the new yoga pants you want with no guilt and them to buy that new fishing rod they have been after for so long without getting a tongue lashing about spending bill money.
It’s important that these accounts are used for playing and not your bill pay accounts! This will go against what you are trying to do. If you spend all your money be patient more will come. Play fair and don’t cheat the system or you will cause more stress and financial unrest in your relationship.
If things aren’t working out maybe your values have changed and you need to refresh your worksheets and have another meeting of the minds.
This is a journey that should develop as your life goes, it isn’t set in stone and can be adapted as long as each party is remembering to respect the other.
This isn’t About Saving Everything Right Now and Being Rich Later
Why I don’t think all your hard earned cash should go towards someday? Three months ago we suffered the most horrible loss of our lives when our son and our best friend died in car accident. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and if you spend all of your time waiting for some day, you are going to miss out on so much. Find your Zen, your comfort level. Learn what you can live without and what you need in your life. Be happy right now.
A glimpse of Financial Freedom through my eyes:
This morning about half way through my shower I stopped to enjoy it. The warmth, the water running over my face with my eyes closed. Being completely at peace and enjoying the moments. Don’t let your life be about someday, make today count.
Enjoying life is the key to mental health and finding your answer for financial freedom is a huge piece of the puzzle. I hope you enjoyed my take on financial freedom for mental health!
Cynthia Devening is the creator of Devening Fitness, a health and fitness blog sharing weight loss and health tips for busy ladies.