Sick, Stressed, and Still Trying to Save?
By Baillie Ward
If you’re anything like me, you probably took advantage of last weekend’s Memorial Day sales after spending a weekend with friends or family. If you’re eerily similar to me, you would have gone a little crazy at the mall and swiped your card a few too many times until it got declined. Fortunately, that was due to an oversight on my part rather than truly irresponsible spending. However, until I realized what the oversight was, I was worried sick about my credit card bill.
Let’s face it- checking our credit card bill is never fun. It forces you to acknowledge all the money you spent that month, and you probably spent more than you’re comfortable with on unnecessary purchases. Hopefully, you have the funds necessary to pay the bill in full. If not, perhaps you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from an average household debt of $2,300. Each month, that amount gains interest, which makes it all the more difficult to crawl out from under the mountain of debt that’s fallen on you.
Stressing about finances is common, but if it becomes a persistent presence in your life, that stress can transform into something much more sinister, eventually having a negative influence on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Research indicates that the millennial generation is more prone to financial stress than their older counterparts, which makes sense considering we make 20% less than the previous generation did at this same point in their lives. Everyone stresses about finances, but financial stress in millennials has increased to the point where we spend an average of 4 hours a week at work focusing on our personal finances rather than our job. Again, however, none of this is truly shocking. Many of us are just entering the workforce, possibly trying to find a house or apartment, navigating our way around new cities, choosing a retirement plan, and trying to make a dent in high student loan debt. Those are all burdensome factors on their own, but when our mind is occupied by all of these stressors at the same time, it’s natural that our mind would start to wander to these issues during our working hours. Is it productive? No, but it’s hard to stay focused when we’re wondering about whether or not we’ll be able to afford rent while paying off a credit card bill.
Is there any good news?
There is a silver lining to be found in all of this; if we spend this much time focusing on our finances, it indicates that we recognize how important it is to be financially secure. Nevertheless, it impedes our productivity and our personal health. Continued stress can lead to a host of physical ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and more serious mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. If we find ways to make saving a realistic and feasible part of our spending routine, it would greatly reduce the stress most of us feel on a daily basis. 92% of millennials would take advantage of workplace financial wellness programs, which in turn would reduce stress, increase productivity, and lead to an overall improvement in employee satisfaction. Employers would do well to try and integrate these programs into the workplace, which could increase retention and attract new talent.
For those of us who are trying to find ways to save on our own, here are a few simple tips to get you on the path to saving:
It’s hard to motivate yourself to save if you don’t know what you’re saving for. Setting a goal (whether it’s a reward like a vacation or a promise of a secure financial future by putting money in a retirement savings account) provides a sense of accountability that makes it easier to put money in savings rather than spending it immediately. It offers a sense of gratification as you see your savings pile up, which makes the reward all the better once you reach your savings goal.
Rather than going cold turkey on eating out or buying coffee every morning, start small. Try reducing your coffee purchases from 5 days a week to 3, and then keep going. Make it a weekly treat rather than a daily treat. Find ways to bring your lunch from home more days than you buy lunch at the office. Need inspiration? Visit food bloggers such as Sweet Peas and Saffron, who dedicate their time and energy to provide the internet with tasty (and simple) lunch ideas.
These practices may not make a huge difference, but making a concerted effort to save energy around the home could lower your monthly bills and give you some wiggle room at the end of the month. Turn off the lights, conserve water, and be conservative with your AC. Try finding ways to integrate public transportation, walking, biking, or carpooling into your daily commute to save money on gas. Small changes add up to make big differences.
This forces you to be accountable for your purchases. Just as lots of diets encourage you to write down your calorie intake, consider this a money diet: write down how much money you spend every day and see where you identify negative spending patterns. Once you identify your “problem area”, it will be easier to make positive changes.
Saving money requires willpower, dedication, and a healthy dose of optimism. When it becomes a part of your normal routine, however, you will be amazed at how easy it can be to cut out superfluous spending and put that money towards your real future goals.
Benevate offers employers a comprehensive suite of employee financial benefits, including student loan repayment assistance, mortgage down payment assistance, and financial wellness programs and challenges. Talk to your employer about requesting a demo with Benevate today. We’d be happy to discuss the opportunity of joining your team on the journey to financial wellness.