Life is full of obstacles and adversities – some large, some small and others like the global pandemic have affected every facet of our lives. According to the latest research by the Financial Finesse Think Tank, the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought adverse effects to virtually every person’s financial health, leading to an increase of stress and a decrease in financial wellness on a global scale. As a result, it is important for us to look after our finances and just as importantly, our mindset toward money.
Enter resilience. According to Karen Reivich, one of the leading psychologists in this field of study, resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and grow from challenges. Her research has demonstrated how cultivating and practicing resilience in your life can help overcome obstacles and allow you to thrive and live a more fulfilled and happy life. Here are some of the key resilience strategies that I’ve gleaned from her research and how you can apply them to improve your financial life.
Resilience Strategy #1: Remember Your ABCs
ABCs refer to the mental connection between experiencing Adversity, the set of Beliefs you have around that adversity, and the emotional and behavioral Consequences of those beliefs. The takeaway is that by challenging your beliefs around specific adversities you can change the way you feel and behave towards them, which can lead to better decision making and outcomes. Here are 3 practical strategies to help challenge the beliefs about an adversity you are facing to help overcome it:
1) Use evidence or discrete data to challenge your belief.
2) Reframe the way you look at a situation. For example: “A more helpful way to see this is” or “A better way to see this is”…
3) Plan: “If x happens I will y.”
Apply this to your finances to:
Increase financial literacy: Many of us at times can feel that we are not good at money so when we face a financial challenge we tend to withdraw and hope it will just go away or that someone else will deal with it for us. Use your ABCs to challenge that belief. Perhaps you can reframe that thinking and say, “I don’t know much about money, but I can and will learn.” Taking that growth mindset can help you overcome the initial stress and tendency to withdraw so that you can meet that challenge head on. You can use sites like mymoney.gov, 360financialliteracy.org and Khan Academy personal finance to get started.
Improve budgeting: Perhaps you have trouble budgeting and again just feel like it is something you aren’t good at and will never be able to do. Use your ABCs to challenge that belief. Consider reframing that belief and instead thinking, “I just haven’t found the right budgeting approach for me, but I will” or plan by deciding that if a certain budgeting approach doesn’t work, you will try another. For example, some people like to budget using pen and paper, others like spreadsheets, and others use software programs like Mint or YNAB. Here are some ideas to help find the right one for you.
Resilience Strategy #2: Leverage Optimism
Optimism is one of the most powerful tools that exists. To be optimistic is to have a belief in a positive future, be approach-oriented, see problems as a challenge not a threat, and have an ability to identify what can and cannot be controlled. The wonderful thing about optimism is that it is something that we can all learn and improve upon.
Apply this to your finances to:
Plan and save for retirement or other long term goals: If you have a tendency to avoid planning for the future, practice optimism to focus and envision a positive future and make it a challenge to map out what you need to do to get there. Start with running a retirement estimate like this to see where you stand. Then challenge yourself to increase savings. Consider using the retirement account contribution escalator in your workplace retirement plan to automatically increase savings over time. Here are some more things to know to help you plan and take purposeful action towards those long-term goals like retirement.