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Simone Biles, the Olympic gymnast extraordinaire, has struggled with mental health issues that have caused her to withdraw from the events and continue the work she loves. Joyce Marter, a financial therapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix, explains that our mental health directly relates to our financial health.
They are like chicken and eggs; they have an impact on each other, according to Marter from Chicago, who is an adjunct professor of Northwestern University and the founder and CEO at Urban Balance, a nationwide consulting firm.
CFP Board recently added psychology to the education curriculum for financial advisors in order to be Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). According to Analyticom, an economics research company in San Francisco, Dan Geller found that the COVID-19 epidemic has increased money anxiety.
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Marter and I had the opportunity to talk about the link between financial and mental health, and how improving the former could also help the latter. Marter's book is called A Mental Fitness Program to an Abundant life. These are highlights of our conversation with Marter. Marters professional and personal experience will be helpful.
Next Avenue: What was the first time you connected financial well-being and mental health?
Joyce Marter: As a psychotherapist, I noticed that my clients were making more progress in therapy and started to earn more. They started their own businesses, side hustles, and were promoted and received raises.
I was shocked because we weren't even discussing these issues.
It was because I knew it was because I was always working on our under-standing self-esteem. When we feel better about ourselves we are more confident, we can put ourselves out there more positively, are more assertive, and more proactive which shapes our financial reality.
As an entrepreneur, I realized how my psychology of money, my beliefs, my behavior, and my thoughts impacted my business's financial reality.
You are very open about your personal problems in the book. Your 30s were a time when you experienced crippling financial anxiety. But then, your financial life changed from being a Penny persona to one of Prosperity.
Yes, those Penny days weren't happy. These were early days in my business, Urban Balance, a large counseling firm based in Chicago. Cash flow hell was what I found myself in. It was paralyzing to have difficulty paying rent and staff.
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These lessons were very important. It was clear that my ego and shame prevented me from getting financial advice and consultation. I was afraid that someone would say that my business model wasn't working. When I finally spoke to a CPA, I realized that I needed to make some important changes and take better care of my finances.
Penny was born out of my codependent behavior, which meant I put others' needs above mine. I was not making sure my business was financially viable in a way that would allow me to take care of my own needs. My financial boundaries were changed and I had access to support. This helped me to rename my business Prosperity.
It was sold seven years later and received a multimillion dollar offer.
How can people become happier, more optimistic and less anxious? What do you think the cause of this connection is?
It is a huge connection, I believe. It impacts how we see the world, our beliefs systems, and how we manage emotions and behaviors.
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Positive mental health promotes emotional intelligence which in turn improves relationships. Our coping skills are better. If we were to start businesses or make investments, we are more open to taking on risk.
We were able, instead of reacting or being in denial, to bring mindfulness presence to our finances.
What is the relationship between investment risk tolerance and mental health?
This is something really fascinating. Human beings have fear and anxiety about money and risk. There must be an emotional, healthy distance from risk.
People who are constantly looking at their investments and feel anxious and reactive may be people you know. They think about selling stocks if they are temporarily down, rather than looking at the bigger picture and being able trust the process through the ebbs-and-flows.
What does stress have to do with personal finances?
It is incredible. Spending can be affected by stress. You may be more impulsive or compulsive with your spending. You might spend more on food, alcohol, and drugs.
It can also affect our relationships and choices. It is possible to not establish healthy financial boundaries with our children or our partners. It is important to manage stress positively in order to make financial decisions.
Could you please give me an example where someone over 50 has changed their financial mindset and how it was beneficial?
Many of my clients in therapy and those who attend my talks are in their 50s-60s or 70s. One of my talks was attended by a 65-year-old woman who said to me, "Man, I wish I had heard your talk 30 decades ago." It would have made a huge difference in my life. But now it is too late. Another woman approached me at the same talk and said, "Man, I wish I had heard your talk 30 years ago."
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Which one do you think will have a better outcome?
Your attitude determines your reality. I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies.
To create a life of financial success and overall happiness, it is about empowering yourself in every chapter of your life.
Sometimes, people in their 60s and 50s put off their happiness and gratification until later in life. People say that when I'm done working, I'll be able to spend more time with my children or practice my hobbies. However, doing these things now will give you more energy and help you think positively about new income streams and investment opportunities, as well as allowing you to continue growing and developing personally.
What can people do to change their financial mindset?
There are many options.
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches that thoughts are more important than emotions or behaviors. If a person thinks It's too late or That's impossible or That wont work, that is how it works. If you cultivate what I call an abundance mind-set, which allows you to expand your self-limiting beliefs, think through difficult situations, and believe that you can achieve success, you will change your reality.
Accessing support is also important. It is important to have reliable financial advisors, consultants, and accountability partners who can help you stay on the right track.
Setting financial boundaries is another important piece. Research shows that many adults have young-adult kids who are not working and live at home. This is affecting their financial situation and ability to retire. We need to establish healthy boundaries and encourage financial independence in our adult children.
Sometimes, the parent can help their child financially, which is a win-win situation for both of them.
It's exactly. It is important to learn how to communicate assertively and set healthy boundaries, rather than enabling and encouraging dependency. If the parent doesn't take financial care of themselves, it can have a negative impact on their financial health and their relationship with their child. It can also negatively impact the financial future of the child.
You want to help them. Give them financial literacy. Make sure they understand how to budget, invest and plan for the future.
The book contains an interesting analogy. It says: "Think about Antiques Roadshow," where viewers discover trinkets that can sometimes be treasures. People should be able to identify their personal treasures that are often overlooked. What does that mean?
As a therapist, one of my favourite things is reflecting back on people's strengths. Many people possess gifts they don't use or put out into the world. You might have an idea for a business, a book idea, or even a screenplay. You have a large amount of money that you haven't yet cashed in.
Perhaps you own a property that you could rent out, or perhaps your hobby can be turned into a side business. It's all about changing your mindset and tapping into the resources available.
Fear of judgment, inadequacy or failure is often what stops people from sharing their ideas with the world.
Forgiveness is another F word. What does forgiveness have do with money management?
It's quite interesting. It's interesting.
Perhaps you have been through a divorce which negatively affected your finances or another relationship issue.
You can forgive yourself and let go of the past that is tethered you. Then, move on with greater empowerment and positive outlook by taking control of your financial future.
My own life was difficult. I had to learn how to forgive a business partner who quit when we were going through that cash flow hell. We had other problems and I felt abandoned. It was difficult for me to let go of these feelings and take responsibility in order to move on.
What is the Financial Mindset Program and how can people access it?
Based on 12 mindsets that I have identified as key to holistic success in my practice, my book is based upon them. Each chapter focuses on one of these mindsets and includes tips, exercises and practical tools to help you assess your current skills and make improvements.
What is the time limit? Do we need to spend X amount of time every day, week, month, or year?
When writing a book, I prefer to focus on one chapter per week. That's twelve weeks. You could also take 12 months if that is not what you prefer. You can do whatever you like. You might have to re-learn one of these skills as your life changes.
How can someone who thinks they may want to work with financial therapists find the right one?
Psychology Today is similar to Match.com when it comes to finding a therapist. You can search for a therapist that is a good match for you, and maybe specializes in your area. You can also visit the Financial Therapy Association website, which contains a list of therapists that you can work with.
Many therapists offer free consultations.
What has the impact of the pandemic on the financial mindset of people?
Pandemics are a worldwide financial and mental health crisis. Before the pandemic, nearly 25% of adults were affected by financially triggered, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Financial trauma can be defined as unemployment, foreclosure, business closings, or extreme financial loss caused by a fire or divorce.
It can also lead to muscle tension, insomnia, and emotional symptoms such as fear and anxiety.
Yes, the pandemic caused financial anxiety for those with unemployment or caring for dependent loved ones, as well as uncertainty about the future.
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This is an important time to pay attention to our mental health and how our finances impact our mental wellbeing. We need to learn mindfulness and self-care strategies to help us cope and move on financially.
Richard Eisenberg, the Senior Web Editor for Next Avenue's Money & Security channel and Work & Purpose channel and Managing Editor of the site is his title. He is the author of How to Avoid Mid-Life Financial Crisis. He has also been a personal finance editor for Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping and CBS Moneywatch.
This article was reprinted with permission from NextAvenue.org, Inc. 2021 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.
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