We all want happiness, except financial strain gets in the way
We’ve all believed, at some point or another, that money isn’t everything, but it turns out it’s almost everything.
A study from life insurance company Guardian says money has a huge impact on our overall well-being in life. To reduce stress and be happier, we need money or a better attitude when it comes to money.
According to the study, two-thirds of Americans don’t think they are good at living within their means. So what should change?
“Two of the top six life priorities for Americans are directly influenced by financial confidence,” the study says. “For American individuals and families, emotional and financial well-being are inextricably linked.”
The number one priority of Americans is being happy. Having a great marriage was the second-highest priority, followed by having enough money to enjoy life. Retire with secure and adequate income came in last place — although that’s going to be the happiness.
While no one group is immune to financial stressors, there are moderate differences in how Americans handle money problems. The study says women make up a very high concentration of day-to-day decision-makers, who pay an enormous amount of attention to monthly expenses and bills. In all, this segment represented 26 percent of respondents.
“Individuals in this segment lack an inspiring vision and are less likely to be satisfied with life and less likely to feel confident,” the study says. Most are married with 4-year degrees, making a median household income of $100,000.
The biggest segment was retirement realist, making up 34 percent of respondents.
“Individuals in this segment are looking for, among other things, guaranteed income in retirement,” Guardian says. “They put an above-average emphasis on having retirement income in addition to Social Security and on saving, for whatever purpose.”
Almost 3-in-4 of people in this segment are married and over half have 4-year degrees. This group is more likely to be confident with money and happy about life. They tend to consider themselves financially successful.
Want to be happy? Change your mind about money
The Guardian study says if you want to reduce your stress and increase your happiness, you need to change your thinking when it comes to your finances. Their suggestions include:
- Having healthy attitudes toward money, including taking a long-term view and living within their means
- Pursuing proactive financial education, both understanding basic financial concepts and financial products
- Utilizing tools and guidance to create a detailed financial plan
- Owning the right mix of growth and protection financial solutions
- Leveraging a strategic relationship, like a financial representative, to “offload” financial stress
And you can’t have one guideline without the other. For example, 37 percent of respondents have a written financial plan but don’t have major elements to keep them on track. And that’s not the only setback.
“There is a correlation between lack of financial literacy and financial product understanding,” the study says. “By answering (and asking) the right questions, actively listening, and increasing individual knowledge, behaviors and priorities will begin to align.”
Don’t expect major changes to happen right away. Address your situation (because everyone’s is different), see the problems and address them head on, and educate yourself on how to make goals and keep them.