Depending on where you grew up, financial health can mean something completely different from person to person. For the majority of the world, financial health is a foreign concept, seeing that most people live under the poverty line or barely scrape by.
However, there has never been a more pressing time to seek a financial advisory service than now. The divorce rate is picking up, and more mothers tend to parent alone. More often than not, they find themselves in situations where they need to live in a less than friendly environment or overwork themselves to support the family.
The impact on the youth
Unfortunately, the biggest victims of an unhealthy financial situation are always the children. They don’t have the means to fend for themselves and are reliant on their parent or parents. Seeing that there is one less income to rely on, the parent often needs to find extra work, and in the end, the child suffers.
If there is one thing that I am grateful for, it is that I never grew up thinking that the status of my bank balance, or the car that I drove, or the house that I lived in determined my value as a human being. We didn’t have much and my parents often had to make sacrifices to pay the bills. However, they never lived above their means and they made time for us.
Today, fewer people are as lucky as I was. The stats are not improving. The number of single moms has increased threefold over the last three decades. Close to 70% of those moms don’t even have $1000 in non-retirement savings.
The members of these households are much more likely to suffer from physical ill health due to continuous financial stress. Ultimately, this stress could lead to impaired cognitive development and lacking social skills. The result is poor academic performance and the cycle of ill financial health continues.
How do you turn it around?
As I mentioned earlier, I never grew up thinking that material possessions were the things that defined me as a person. Unfortunately, the world sells success as a fat bank balance and more stuff than you need. Whenever you party hard in your new designer wear and flashy car, you have it made (or you are up to your eyeballs in debt).
This type of thinking leads to poverty and bad financial decisions. Trying to keep up with the Jones’s is always going to leave you one step behind. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to realize that your worth does not lie in the amount of money you have.
Today, I live a simple life. I can’t say that I have the newest car on the market or that I live in one of the mansions on the hill. I still have my problems, but money is not one of them. It’s not that I have more of it than I know how to spend; I just manage what I have to the best of my ability.
My wife and kids know that we will never be rich, but they also know is that they are taken care of and that they don’t need to worry about their basic needs. They don’t need to wonder where their next meal is coming from or where they are going to stay next month. The secret to my financial health is contentment.
Putting it into practice
I am not going to say that it is always easy, but being content is the one thing that keeps me from chasing things that I know will put me in a tight spot financially. I make a value assessment of anything that I want to buy and determine if it is something that I really need or if it is a want. As soon as I can make that distinction, the rest is easy.
My wife and I were in a tight spot a couple of years back and we decided to get our acts together. We cut our budget to the bone and started from zero. The first step was to pay off all our debt and clear the credit cards. From there we started to put some money away each month until we had an emergency fund ready.
Balance is key, so although we saved our money, we also made space for the odd splurge. However, when it is a calculated splurge, you know where your boundaries are and that keeps you from overspending.
We still don’t have all that much, but we know that our kids are looked after and all of us sleep sound in the evenings, knowing we don’t have to worry about money.
I know there are plenty of people who have dug themselves out of a nasty hole and built a healthy financial life because of it. Share your story below and feel free to give a couple of pointers. Who knows, maybe you can give a financial advisory service to someone who has a financial burden?