Editorial Policy

Financial Education is Good for your Health

Kristin McGrath

April 6, 2012

It’s not out of the ordinary for large employers to offer gym membership discounts, workshops with dieticians and on-site health clinics. These kinds of health benefits keep employees healthy — and at work, which increases productivity.

A recent Reuters article reveals another health benefit employers are offering — financial wellness programs. If you don’t think that financial health is related to physical health and productivity, then you’ve clearly never lost a night of sleep worrying about money — or spent a workday distracted by some personal finance snag.

Financial wellness programs seek to stave off the migraines and exhaustion that come with money worries. Some employers offer large group seminars. Others, according to Reuters, allow employees to sign up for one-on-one sessions with financial coaches. Such benefits save employers roughly $2,000 per employee per year in the form of increased productivity and lowered health care costs, according to Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation statistics Reuters cites.

This article made me think about whether money stress is affects my health and productivity. While I’m not constantly plagued by financial stress (I think being single and childless has something to do with that), there are a number of things that have me tossing and turning long after I’ve gone to bed.

My taxes:
This year, I did all my tax paperwork in February — a first for me. Because I worked full time in 2011 and didn’t have any student expenses to deduct, I owe Uncle Sam for the first time ever. I have enough in savings to cover it. Yet I’m worried that I (or TurboTax) made a mistake. So I’ve been meaning to proof my return again before sending it along to the IRS. And so my
tax return sits in my file cabinet as April 17 approaches, a stubborn item on the to-do list that haunts me at bedtime.

My apartment: When my former landlord raised my rent last year, I decided to move. I  got a great deal on a bigger place in a good neighborhood. Turns out, however, it’s not such a great deal. The place is old, and my utility bills are about three times what they were in the more expensive, better-insulated apartment. My move is actually costing me more money — and the hunt for yet another new place (and the cost-comparison calculations) are eating up my time and sanity.

My savings: I opened a Roth IRA a year ago. I also opened a money market account for shorter-term savings goals. I patted myself on the back for these very grown-up moves — and then proceeded to neglect these accounts.

To get the ball rolling, I opened a savings account and transferred a pile of money into it. That way, I figured, I could transfer money each month into the Roth and the money market account. Yet linking my money market account at one bank to my savings account at another bank requires a bunch of paperwork I haven’t done yet. And, whenever I transfer money into the Roth, I have to decide how to invest it — so the newly transferred money will generally sit for a month or two, earning me nothing but mild stress.

My money problems are relatively minor, and I know this. Yet, all the same, they eat into my sleep and down time, which probably affects how productive I am the next day. So I’ve decided to schedule my first meeting with a financial planner to help me reform my bad habits while my financial life is still simple.

With stressful financial responsibilities in mind, here are some of the best personal finance blog posts of the week:

Wise Bread shows you how to calculate how much your time is worth.

Consumerism Commentary asks for advice about supporting elderly parents.

Cash Money Life contemplates hiring a lawn care service.

Enemy of Debt challenges readers to get out of their comfort zones to eradicate debt.

Sweating the Big Stuff walks you through the process of getting a mortgage.

Money Reasons warns about the danger of ignoring small problems until they turn into big ones.