Even before the economic crisis in 2008, many Americans were struggling with their finances. And although financial wellness is an area which is ignored in most wellness programs, it is absolutely critical to our lives and our personal wellness. Financial wellness means having abundant income, savings, the means for philanthropy, debt reduction, investing, and retirement planning. It requires an intricate balance of the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of money. It is having an understanding of your financial situation and taking care of it in such a way that you are prepared for financial changes. And it requires a careful balance of being comfortable with where your money comes from and where it is going.

Like most of our behaviors, what we do with our money is directly related to our thoughts and beliefs about money. For example if we believe we will live in debt for most of our life, we probably will. Or if we think we will struggle with finances because our parents did, we probably will.

Here are a few basic rules to consider if you want to move from financial struggles and anxiety to financial wellness:

  • change your spending habits and trends, and commit to never spending more that you earn
  • find ways to supplement your income
  • stop borrowing money and start climbing out of debt
  • start giving
  • start saving
  • determine how much you want to make, save, spend, and give away
  • determine what you want to do with your money
  • rise above the myths of money
  • set positive, SMART goals
  • educate yourself
  • learn how to invest and start investing
  • keep impeccable records of all of your money.

Keep in mind that every small improvement you make to your financial situation is a good one, and small changes will add up, like pennies in a piggy bank. Good financial practices will help you enjoy life and avoid debt, limitations and stress.

Here are four leaders/teachers within the personal finance world that we can highly recommend:

Suzy Orman

Dave Ramsey

John Commuta

The Motley Fool is dedicated to helping the world invest — better. Founded in 1993 by brothers Tom and David Gardner.