The outbreak of Covid-19 has totally changed the way we think about physical and even mental health. I hope it will change our attitudes towards financial health too.
Since the virus started, we’ve all been talking a lot about our physical wellbeing. Government communications, social media and the news is all focused around how to keep ourselves and our families well. And increasingly mental health is part of the conversation too. I’ve seen lots of great pieces discussing the impact that health anxiety and social isolation can have on our minds. I’m really pleased to see this – it’s something positive in a very sad and difficult situation.
But the coronavirus isn’t just affecting our minds and bodies. For many people, it’s a threat to financial health too. There are millions of freelancers, gig economy workers and business owners now facing serious hardship. I have friends who’ve seen their pipeline of work disappear completely. And although the government is making an effort to help, there’s still so much uncertainty about when the outbreak will end – and if things will return to normal when it does. It’s terrifying.
So, it’s particularly poignant that this Saturday 28th of March was Financial Wellness Day. It’s never been more important than it is now to shift our mindset and make it acceptable to talk about money.
Why financial health matters
Financial health is an issue that means a lot to me. I’ve worked in financial marketing for longer than I care to remember, and it’s shown me that talking about money is extraordinarily powerful. When I set up my own agency, I put financial wellness at the heart of it. At Moreish, we use the power of communication to engage people in positive conversations about money and their financial health. That’s our ‘why’ – the reason we come to work in the morning.
And it matters to us because financial health is so important. After all, money is an enabler, and having a healthy relationship with it can only improve your life. And whether you work for a financial provider, a service or tech company supporting financial services firms (like us!), or as a financial adviser, we all play a role in influencing to people make smarter financial decisions. Financial health (like all forms of health) stretches so far beyond its typical definition.
Most textbooks would suggest that financial health is ‘the state and stability of an individual’s finances and personal financial affairs’. In human speak this means you can pay your bills and you have a bit of cash tucked away for unforeseen events – which is important. But, for me, financial health is about seeing money as a positive force in your life. So you feel happy spending it and saving it, and you don’t feel afraid to look at your statement or banking app, or talk to your partner about how much they earn. And that all starts with creating positive associations with money through open and honest discussion.
The virus has made us open about financial health
Right now is an unprecedented moment of openness. Normally, we don’t like talking about money (especially if you’re British). But in the past few weeks I’ve seen many people taking to social media to share their fears about how coronavirus is impacting their financial health. One of the reasons is that these are unprecedented times and people are genuinely more worried than ever before. But I think it’s also happening because there is a sense that this situation is nobody’s fault, which makes it easier to talk about – whereas normally there is a lot of personal shame attached to financial issues. So we want to carry that spirit of openness towards financial issues for future financial wellness.
In fact, I think everyone who works in the FS sector should be thinking about how they can initiate conversations about money, which could actually help restore some of the trust in financial services firms so eroded by the credit crunch. Finance brands have a responsibility to help people take care of their financial health, in the same way that healthcare brands want to encourage positive physical wellbeing. At the current time, FS brands need to do their bit to stimulate open and positive financial conversations.
Seize the momentum of an awful situation
I don’t want to say that good things will come out of the Covid-19 situation, or that there’s a ‘silver lining’. This virus is claiming lives and causing real hardship and I absolutely don’t want to diminish that.
But I’m desperate to look for something positive amongst it all, and I think there is one here. People are beginning to talk about money like never before and the coronavirus has provided the impetus for this. It’s proved that financial wellness is a crucial part of our lives. If we keep communicating openly about it, we can seize the momentum of this awful situation to create a financially well future.
Ultimately this virus has shown us that financial health matters. So, let’s keep talking about it.