What is Financial Wellness?

The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, or TIAA, is an organization that was founded to provide retirement and life insurance benefits to educators across America. Over 100 years later, TIAA now serves individuals throughout several nonprofit sectors, including academia, medicine, and government industries. Basically, they’re super cool. 

TIAA also rounds up an annual financial wellness survey, which provides helpful statistics and insights for both employers and employees in the workforce. The 2022 survey results just dropped – which means we’ve got the inside look at what financial issues most American workers are dealing with on the regular, and how those hurdles are impacting their work and life goals. 

The Picture of Perfect (Financial) Health

Everybody’s financial goals are different, so your “financial wellness” probably doesn’t look the same as your BFF’s. That said, there are some general feelings most people have in common when they talk about financial wellness.

What Is Financial Wellness?

According to the survey, 61% of Americans agree that financial wellness is just feeling comfortable with their money. In fact, more than half of all respondents listed these answers as key components of healthy finances:

  • Having the means to take care of their families
  • No worry or stress about debts or finances
  • Having financial protection against unexpected emergencies

The general consensus isn’t all that surprising: people want to live without worrying that their lives could fall apart at any moment due to a lack of money. Simple enough, right?

Maybe not. That same survey showed that only 22% of respondents rated themselves as high up on the financially well scale. The biggest demographic in the group? Wealthy, older, retired men with a higher income and savings. But even in that tip-top group, only 20% of respondents felt they could cover 6 months of expenses in the event of an emergency.

And among those that consistently budget toward their goals, the level of financial stress actually increases

So what’s keeping people from feeling financially well, and what can we do about it?

Roadblocks on the Path to Financial Wellness

For one, having a budget and following a budget are two very different things. Just like having an emergency fund is a great way to boost your financial wellness, but having enough funds in that account to actually cover an emergency is harder said than done. 

And even though employer-sponsored financial wellness programs seem to be boosting financial morale among participants, only about half of all workers qualify for those programs, and many workers are choosing to opt out. 

Younger workers (talking about you, Gen Z) report feeling concerns about hidden costs associated with these programs, while also feeling hesitant to share their personal financial information with employers. Regardless, they’re still the demographic engaging the most with employer wellness resources, and are more likely to believe that employers have a responsibility to help maintain workers’ physical, mental, and financial health.

The Impact of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the entire world upside down – while many were left scrambling due to sudden job losses or unexpected medical costs, the conversation around finances as a whole was shifting in the background. 

TIAA reports that more than half of all Americans are more aware of their financial wellness than before the pandemic began, and nearly 40% of respondents said that their definition of financial wellness completely changed. 

Whether it’s building up an emergency fund or beginning to budget their finances, Americans as a whole are paying attention to their financial wellness and taking steps to ensure their financial wellbeing during the ongoing pandemic. 

A Prescription for Prosperity

Are you ready to take your financial wellness to the next level? Need help from a financial professional to improve your money skills? Lasso can help. 

Build your financial plan based around your unique goals, then anonymously connect with an advisor to get started. It all starts on the Lasso App – now available for download on the Apple App Store

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