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Save Money, Save Your Heart

by Karen Wilhelms, Financial Wellness Educator
Group of people talking at a table

Money is the No. 1 cause of stress among Americans, and it affects everything from our work to our relationships to our health and well-being … and not usually in a positive way.

There are few things that cause stress, anxiety, shame and embarrassment the way money troubles do. Stress and anxiety are known to raise physical health risks, most notably with our heart.

One easy way to begin to overcome the stress and anxiety (and the health risks that come with them) is to speak up. Breaking the silence and reaching out for assistance may have once been a social taboo, but not anymore. Follow these five action steps to start the conversation today.

  1. Talk about it: You’re already quick to share great recipes, websites or apps you love. Why not share what works for you, what isn’t working and ask for recommendations? Ask a co-worker, church member or a friend, “Has anyone found a budgeting tool they love?”
  2. Create a gathering place: Meet in a judgment-free, neutral zone where you can feel safe and be comfortable. Think Bible study for your financial health and accountability partners to boot! And by all means, pray for each other.
  3. Get creative: Set a monthly challenge, read a finance book, host a financial quiz show, create Financial Wellness Boards, have a round-robin and answer thought-provoking questions such as, “What is your first memory of money?”
  4. Set small goals: Start with baby steps. Break your goal into the absolutely smallest next step, then the next step and keep on going.
  5. Listen. Then listen some more: Focus on what you can accomplish together, and, most of all, show compassion. It’s OK to not be OK all the time. Picture your ideal financial future and get out there and face those financial challenges — with a little help from your friends.

Resource: Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study