As we come out of Dezemba and take off the rose-coloured glasses, we see January with much needed clarity. The new year can signify a fresh start, new opportunities and promises for many, but we also know that it can be an anxiety- and uncertainty-prone time that often also results in increased mental health challenges under financial pressure. Many factors can contribute to this, e.g. looming matric results that have, in the past, caused anxiety amongst teenagers who may not have supportive families and access to adequate mental health facilities.
There is a lot to be grateful for still, so risk optimism!
To realise a joy-filled 2022, free of financial, mental and health worries, we have to make changes, and this may require us to change ourselves because how we get into sticky and undesirable situations is not how we are going to get out of them, but where do we even start, and how can we also extend help to others? Through information. The answer lies in knowing exactly where you are.
How often do you ask yourself how you are really doing? There is no better time than at the beginning of a new year to pat yourself on the back for how far you have come and reflect on how you can influence and manifest a greater and more fulfilling next phase.
First up, know your money post Dezemba
It is Standard Bank’s hope that the #FinanceFitSA tips over the summer period have assisted you in remaining Januworry free. Start by accurately assessing your financial status; this exercise alone can be daunting as you confront your financial habits, but it is an important step that must be undertaken with kindness towards self. It will alleviate anxiety too, so ask yourself simple questions such as:
Did I stick to my budget in December?
If not, what is the difference?
With the balance in my bank account right now, will I realistically afford the remaining monthly expenses?
If you are a parent, what financial commitment is needed towards back-to-school needs?
Second, and just as fundamental, ‘are the kids alright?’
As you know, the bundles of joy in your life can come with their own bundles of expenses. How are you doing? There’s stationery, orientation caps etc. It’s a lot, but you have planned well, and it’s time to reap the rewards of your savings.
Often parents get bogged down with survival mode and taking care of ‘basics’ that we may forget that we are raising real humans. The new year can be filled with all kinds of pressures for growing children. While adults make logical decisions to move house, move cities, change schools etc, we may forget that experience allows us to adjust to change with ease; it can feel like the whole world has been turned upside down by a simple change for a teenager. Making new friends, changing uniform and even new hair rules are a big deal for them.
Check in with your children, talk them through your decisions and make an effort to create excitement around change. It is important that they feel considered and safe. Here are suggested questions and discussion points when communicating change to your children:
Emphasise their importance. ‘We’ve/I’ve thought about how this will impact you…’
How do you feel about this?
What do you think?
How can I help you adjust to the change?
More than 700k South African children wrote their final matric exams in December. With the much-anticipated results, it is the job of the parents and support structures to support the matriculants regardless of results. Creating an environment conducive to happy children builds a healthier future nation. Importantly, we need to keep assessing our readiness for them to start their post basic-education career. Standard Bank has student financial aid tools to assist you in this regard.
Third, and lastly, how is your health and the health of your family?
Did you overdo it in December? Don’t be too hard on yourself; exercise remains a way for us to see how very cable our bodies are to do extraordinary things. Be thankful for a healthy body and do better.
Start with facts, whether it is getting on that scale or using your favourite pair of jeans to assess where you are. It is true that many people neglect their new year’s resolutions by March or even earlier, but it is equally true and proven to work for a lot more people. We encourage you to use this fresh start to write down new fitness goals for yourself, and you can do it with family and/or friends. Accountability buddies in habit building go a long way.
January can indeed be all a medley of experiences and feelings, and awareness of your financial, mental and physical wellness can be catalytic to an amazing 2022.