AMES, Iowa – Financial well-being doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Some people focus on financial security, whether for now or for the future. Others are interested in having enough financial freedom to make choices or focus on long-term goals.
Iowans can explore their sense of financial well-being during “What about Me? My Well-being,” a workshop series from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, says Jeannette Mukayisire, a human sciences specialist in family finance.
In the financial workshop, participants learn strategies that have been shown to increase financial well-being, Mukayisire said. Other topics in the series include an introduction to well-being, social and emotional well-being, and physical well-being. Participants also discuss ways in which each area of well-being affects the others.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to achieve financial well-being. Everyone can try to improve the financial area that is important to him or her,” Mukayisire said.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau conducted open-ended interviews with consumers to discover four elements of financial well-being:
- Being able to pay day-to-day expenses now – financial security for the present
- Being able to save money for unexpected expenses – financial security for the future
- Being able to save money for a vacation or other enjoyment – financial freedom of choice
- Being able to set and meet financial goals – financial freedom for the future
“Achieving financial well-being is like seeing a house be built and completed. Before you can move into the house, you must plan. You must make decisions about blueprints, land, a contractor, permits and more,” Mukayisire said.
“You also must plan for your financial well-being and make decisions based on what is important to you,” Mukayisire added.
Financial education from ISU Extension and Outreach provides knowledge and skills. When individuals combine that education with their own motivation, they are on their way to financial well-being, Mukayisire said.
After completing the “What about Me? My Well-being” workshops, participants have reported making changes such as keeping a financial journal to track expenses, starting a savings account for emergencies or vacations, and making a grocery list and sticking to it to save money when shopping. Participants have reported getting better at budgeting and managing finances, and becoming more financially stable to be able to help their families.
“Small steps can add up to big savings and lead to financial well-being,” Mukayisire said.