A new survey found that the average worker spends about 13 hours at work every month worrying about personal finances. This impacts workers across all genders, income and age groups. This obviously takes a heavy toll on productivity as well as morale. Whether you run a small business or a large one, these statistics are a concern. What can be done to help change this trend?
Enter workplace financial wellness programs. These are gaining in popularity for good reason: employees need help. But to be effective, the financial wellness program you select needs to address today’s problems…not yesterday’s.
Yes, there are classic, time-tested personal finance tools that still provide a service to us —like the budget, for example. But budgets were a totally different animal in the old days.
Before the advent of credit cards, it was hard work to spend more than you earned.
You had to go out and convince someone to lend you money. So most people naturally either saved or broke even. There was no choice!
Fast forward to today.
Easy credit is part of the fabric of our existence. We’re bombarded by credit card offers, easy auto loans, and no-interest-for-many-years offers on TVs, electronics and furniture.
In that light, the consumer of the past had it far easier.
Teaching basic budgeting doesn’t address the temptation that today’s consumer feels, every day, everywhere. This temptation has made living within one’s means exponentially more difficult.
So it’s no surprise that a program teaching budgeting or other general personal finance education may not do much. Teaching these tactics might work in the short run, but in the long run it will probably make employees feel one thing: deprivation. Like crash dieting, this is not a long term solution in today’s easy credit world, even if it worked well in the past.
The recent survey agrees. It found that traditional financial education doesn’t work with today’s workforce.
So now that we know what doesn’t work….what does?
Self-defense tactics to keep us safe against all these companies wanting to extend credit and sell us stuff we don’t need! Basically, it’s a matter of working with human psychology instead of against it. If we educate participants to question their own thoughts when tempted to overspend, then changing becomes far easier. So whether it’s advertising, peer pressure, or simply feeling tired or stressed that makes us suddenly fall prey to that urge to spend, we can break habits by simply becoming aware.
Additionally, in today’s busy lives, activities often center on places or events that encourage over-spending:
- Going shopping or to the mall with family or friends
- Always going out for coffee, lunch, drinks or dinner
- Movies, concerts or events where the food and drinks are very high-priced
Self-defense tactics help people build positive new habits, like organizing dinner parties or going out for a group hike instead of meeting at the mall or the expensive restaurant. The key is not to focus on where one must “cut back”, which makes us automatically feel deprived, and can trigger an expensive rebound.
These self-defense tactics put the consumer back in control of their wallet, increasing their self-confidence and financial courage. By helping people gain confidence that they can enjoy themselves without overspending, we are feeding good habits. As confidence grows, people begin to see that small changes today can create big positive results in the future.
This way, we can help employees feel in control as they navigate our world of spending temptation. After all, we’re not likely to ever change the world…the advertisers and easy-credit providers are here to stay. But by helping employees help themselves, we can arm them with the skills they need in today’s world to build a future of financial security.
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Wavelength Financial Content Inc. provides user-friendly, engaging and affordable branded and white-label financial wellness programs.