Support Mama’s Journey to FinCon by sharing this post on Twitter with #FinHealthMatters!
It’s a weird time in the Hustle household. After months of feeling stable, even prosperous, the past months have brought waves of anxiety and fear regarding our financial situation.
I fluctuate between being proud of us for 1) moving in the right direction, and 2) having a plan, and fearing that we’re about to lose all the progress we’ve worked so hard for.
The Center for Financial Services Innovation is sponsoring a blog post contest, asking bloggers to share what financial health means to them. Their definition of financial health is struck me: “financial health occurs when your day-to-day financial activities help you build resilience and pursue opportunity.”
What a perfect definition. I’d personally call that stability – when you know you have enough money to pursue opportunities that interest you, build a buffer against hard times, invest in education or other resources to improve yourself, and generally, live the life you want to live.
For me, financial health is freedom from fear.
Fear that we won’t be able to pay for all of the medical care we need, or end up financing it and sliding further into debt. Fear that we won’t have enough money in the bank account for other bills as we try to cash flow everything that’s happening at once. Fear that if one of us loses our jobs, we’re stuck up the proverbial creek.
Fear that we won’t be able to provide the lives we want for our children.
However, I’ve learned something this month. We’ve faced the largest financial strain we’ve ever had to battle, and slowly but surely, we’re coming out the other side. The habits we’ve built in the past 6 months have stuck – and have allowed us to weather the storm better than could have imagined. Our financially healthy habits have allowed us to become more resilient, even though we’re not in a position of complete financial health – yet.
According to CFSI, the 138 million adults that are struggling financially are not who you think. I’m beginning to understand that a lot of the value of financial health is invisible. While the family with two Mercedes parked in front of their house may be doing just fine, they may also not be. The family driving a battered Honda Accord may be far on their financial path.
As a child, I learned that fancy cars, cavernous homes, and expensive designer clothes were the very definition of success. It wasn’t until my late teens that I found out that they could be financed to the point of financial strain. I found out when my father lost his job, and very nearly everything he owned. His motto was that “you can’t take it with you” and “he with the most toys, wins.”
How about, “he with the most financially-leveraged toys, goes on to stress himself out to the point of heart attack, and a future in which he shall work till the end of time.”
I witnessed a lot of fear in my parents, and I still see it in them today. I fear what their choices will mean for our family’s future – will we eventually be in a position where we’re forced to support them?
You see now what I mean about financial health being freedom from fear. I don’t want to pass those kinds of fears onto my children, and I don’t want to fear for our own financial futures. I’m grateful for the financially habits we’ve built. By sticking with them, our resilience to future uncertainty increases every day.
I look forward to the days when Hubs and I no longer fear cash shortages. When we don’t worry about whether or not our kids will be able to participate in the activities they want, just because of the cost. When a job loss would be an opportunity for an extended vacation. When a medical situation is made a little less stressful, just by knowing that we have money in the bank to pay for it. Waking up, and knowing that we’re going to work just for fun, because we’re free.
That’s what financial health means to me.