When was the last time you looked at your finances? Like, really looked at them to work out a plan and know where you are going. The reality is that your financial situation can affect your well-being so it is something you should be prioritising for your own sake and that of your family. Jo Violeta shares why it is so important and what you can do to get your finances on the up!

As a mum, I know how hard it is to put yourself first! Between sleep deprivation, breaking up fights between siblings and toilet training, it’s rare to sit down and drink a cup of coffee while it’s still warm, let alone take time out for some serious self-care.

To be honest with you, my family hasn’t been on a holiday for five years, and I received a gift certificate for a massage last Mother’s Day which I still haven’t used. So I completely understand the ‘lack of self-care’ scenario.

Looking after tiny humans is fun, it’s rewarding, but it’s also hard-work and time-consuming and sometimes, well, it’s simply overwhelming. As busy parents, we give so much of ourselves to others. But I’m learning how important it is to pay attention to our own wellbeing. And I don’t just mean traditional wellbeing activities such as yoga, meditation and massages. A surprising way to boost your emotional wellbeing is by creating a solid financial plan. Yep, getting your money and your budget sorted can make you feel amazing and goes a long way to reducing stress levels.

Research by the Financial Planning Standards Council found that people ‘who had sought financial advice reported significantly higher levels of both financial and emotional wellbeing than those who had no advice at all or simply limited advice’. The research also found that having your finances in order can ‘instil confidence about reaching a wide spectrum of life goals’. Also, having enough money to at least meet minimum needs is required for a baseline level of happiness.

Reducing unhealthy levels of stress can benefit our emotional and physical wellbeing. Considering financial issues are rated as one of the top causes of stress, and unfortunately, millions of Australians report experiencing financial stress, it is a serious area of concern to address. Regardless of the reason for financial stress – debt, home loans, retirement, supporting the family and budgeting – the outcome is the same.

Although, my husband Carl and I, like many other parents, are still working towards finding balance and carving out time to look after our wellbeing, we do have the finance side of things sorted. And you can too!

5 ways to improve your finances AND your wellbeing

1. Create a realistic budget. Having a practical budget in place can allow you to spend more money on the things that make you happiest. Budgeting doesn’t mean you spend less, it empowers you to spend smarter. It’s important to feel good about yourself first, so you can help support others. Finding room in your budget to set aside a small amount each month for some self-care can help you achieve that.

2. Save an emergency ‘buffer’ fund. Having money tucked away in case of unexpected expenses, can help alleviate some of the distress and worry associated with emergencies.

3. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind by getting your superannuation sorted. On average women live longer than men, however, most women will retire with significantly less superannuation (super) than men. The average super account balance for men is almost double the average balance for women. Set aside a few hours to review your super balances, find lost super and assess whether it’s appropriate to consolidate your balance and potentially plan to pay extra into your super.

4. Don’t go it alone. Connection with others is a key to resilience, wellbeing and achieving goals. My husband and I exercise together, one of the trainers at our gym recommended it. She explained that exercising with others improves motivation and can make working out more fun. The same principle can be applied to managing your finances and achieving money goals. Managing your finances and budgeting can be perceived as boring, and if you’re trying to save you may need to make some sacrifices. Connecting with other like-minded mums, who are working towards similar goals can help. Facebook groups can be a great place to discuss money goals and ideas with other parents. The members in our Facebook group the ‘Mindful Money Mummies’ keep each other accountable, share money saving tips and resources, encourage each other to reach our goals and even share the odd bargain when we find it.

5. Once you have a solid financial plan and feel in control of your money, you might like to consider supporting charity and giving to those in need. Giving creates a sense of meaning, a feeling of being connected to something greater than ourselves, which is an essential component of happiness and resilience.

If you are experiencing financial stress and/or hardship financial counselling could help. Financial Counselling Australia offers a free financial counselling phone line 1800 007 007

This information is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal financial or professional advice.

Jo and Carl Violeta are self-confessed numbers nerds, parents of an energetic toddler and a super switched-on teenager, and co-founders of the award-winning business, Violeta Finance.  They are a husband and wife team who are passionate about empowering their community with financial education, love the odd glass of wine, and get a kick out of helping families achieve their homeownership and financial dreams.

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