A fitness programme for your wallet
Money worries can negatively impact a person’s well-being. A study conducted by the School of Management and Law has investigated the topic of financial well-being. The study also shows how you can feel more at ease with your financial situation.
Financial worries can have a negative impact on other aspects of life. They are an important part of our general well-being and thus also our health. In the study “More Income, Fewer Financial Worries? – Findings on Financial Well-Being in Switzerland”, the School of Management and Law looked at this subjective feeling: in spring, it asked around 1,050 people in German-speaking Switzerland how comfortable they felt from a financial standpoint.
After all, “relatively little attention is paid to financial well-being,” says Selina Lehner, study leader and a research associate at the Institute of Wealth & Asset Management. The authors define this financial well-being as a state “in which a person can meet financial obligations and feels secure about their financial future.”
According to the study, well-being depends on factors such as a person’s income, education, housing situation and wealth. People who earn a lot, have accumulated wealth, possess a higher level of education and are homeowners feel financially comfortable or very comfortable.
The authors state that the most important factor is a person’s income, as it also forms a link between the other factors: generally speaking, a high income leads to greater household wealth and a better housing situation. It is also linked to a higher level of education. Some 22 percent of respondents with a monthly income of up to CHF 4,000 describe their level of financial well-being as high or very high. For respondents with incomes of more than CHF 9,000 per month, this figure stands at 72 percent. People's willingness to save has been high for a number of years: 81% of the Swiss population save, and this is especially true among the young generation and full-time employees.
“Money alone does not make you happy – but it doesn't hurt either. However, it certainly helps make everyday life more carefree.”
However, a person can influence their financial well-being: “It turns out that financial well-being can also be achieved by saving and planning in a disciplined manner, as well as by having better financial knowledge,” says study leader Lehner. This is even said to be the case if an individual’s starting position is much more difficult with a low income and less wealth.
The path to achieving financial well-being is described as being similar to a training regime or a diet you might follow to improve your physical condition. Both require perseverance and self control, and you won’t see the fruits of your labour from one day to the next. A financial fitness programme takes a close look at a person’s income, safeguards, wealth accumulation and wealth management:
- Income: Gain an overview of your financial situation, maintain control of your income and spending, reflect on your own consumer behaviour and put together a savings plan. You can increase your income, for example, by undertaking training and continuing education.
- Safeguards: Take account of life risks such as illness or divorce in your planning, for example by taking out insurance, so that a financial shock does not become an existential problem.
- Wealth accumulation: If you have any income left over come month’s end, you can build up your wealth in the form of savings or investments.
- Wealth management: Optimise your wealth and plan your estate with professional financial planning.
Just like exercising regularly can be perceived as strenuous, however, finances are often viewed as a boring and complicated matter. Another of the study’s findings also isn’t helpful: finances remain a taboo subject for the Swiss. People do not like to talk about money.
However, as financial well-being is of great significance for a person’s overall health and is also socially relevant, the authors also recommend measures at an employer and state level: as part of a company’s occupational health management, for example, or by incorporating financial knowledge even more into compulsory school education.
The big question remains: does money make you happy? Selina Lehner opines that “money alone does not make you happy – but it doesn't hurt either. However, it certainly helps reduce financial anxiety and make everyday life more carefree.”