What is it that makes up our self-esteem? Is it the face we see when we look in the mirror in the morning? Is it the wobbly matter around our midriffs and our ability to either shift it or embrace it? Is it the clothes on our backs or the jewellery with which we adorn ourselves? Is it the makeup we apply with skill and dexterity that amplify and accentuate nature’s gifts? Is it in our career and the sense of purpose and belonging that it can give us. Or is it the balance in our bank account and the opportunities (or lack thereof) that it affords us? While a great deal is made of the link between our physical appearance and our self-esteem we must not overlook the part that our financial health and stability play in our self-worth.
Sure, money allows us to buy things that feel better about ourselves like nice clothes, gorgeous shoes, fancy makeup and flashy jewellery but aside from buying power, our earnings both for men and women can play a huge part in our perceptions of ourselves.
Many of us feel as though we’re expected to be earning a certain amount by a certain age or be able to have access to status signifiers like a nice house or car by a certain point in our lives.
In a scramble for self-worth we can find ourselves getting into debt chasing status symbols to bolster our self-image in ways that ultimately do more harm than good.
Here we’ll look at the relationship between our bank balance and our self-worth and how you can save your way to better self-esteem to feel more in control and more at ease with yourself.
You are not your bank balance!…. But
It goes without saying that there’s no correlation whatsoever between your bank balance and your worth as a human being.
There are plenty of people with very little income who are absolutely wonderful, generous, caring, witty and delightful human beings just as there are no shortage of extremely wealthy people whose presence contributes about as much to society as the average hemorrhoid.
Nonetheless, while none of us should measure our worth solely in terms of our bank balance it’s not hard to see why many of us find correlation between the two, especially from the lower end of the spectrum.
When we have little money in our account we have to make sacrifices. We can’t give our kids everything they want (when did that become a bad thing, anyway?), we can feel as though we have failed our families and the spectre of debt can loom large over us.
The psychology of debt
The cost of living in the UK continues to crawl upwards yet for many of us labouring under the yoke of wage repression our pay packet is increasingly inadequate to keep us financially afloat.
As such, debt is a necessary evil for many households. But it’s human nature to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to our debts and this can cause them to quickly spiral out of control. This can not only cause us considerable stress but can also erode our self-esteem.
With debt comes reduced financial freedom which in turn impinges on our ability to feel in control of our financial future and in turn can make us feel inadequate or as though we have failed ourselves and our households.
Thus, it’s in our best interests to repay our debts quickly, but this is easier said than done. While a consolidation loan can help us to repay our debts more quickly, make them easier to manage and ease the psychological pressure that they put on us and even positively affect our credit score, clearing our debts is only half the battle. We must also get our hands back on the steering wheel and fix the habits that have prevented us from making the most of our money (whatever our income).
Retail therapy… It ain’t that therapeutic!
In order to reassert control over our finances, we need to stop treating shopping as a leisure activity. Not only is it an expensive “hobby” it also reinforces the way in which society has conditioned us to value ourselves in terms of the material possessions we own; the name on clothes in our wardrobes, the size of the TV in our living room or the size of the rocks on our fingers.
Retail therapy isn’t all that therapeutic in the long term. Sure, shopping gives us a fleeting giddy thrill but that wears off quickly and leaves us with feelings of guilt and shame especially if it adds to significant credit card debt.
Moreover, you’d be astonished at how quickly possessions turn to clutter which can also impact negatively on our self-esteem and our mental health in general.
You are not a slave to your phone
How many times have you upgraded a perfectly mobile good phone, and in doing so tied yourself into a lengthy and expensive tariff just for a slightly shinier phone with a marginally better screen? We all think that our state of the art new phones will draw admiring looks from friends and relatives…But they rarely ever do. We’re kind of over all that now.
It’s time to get off the upgrade carousel and keep hold of your perfectly capable handset. Try opting for a SIM only deal that will give you unlimited texts and calls as well as a generous data allowance for a fraction of what you’d pay to upgrade.
You can even get great incentives when you refer a friend. Why hitch yourself to another debt when you’ve only just taken ownership of your handset? At least get another year’s use out of it before you consider upgrading.
Save something, save something… anything!
Since it’s not so much our bank balance but a loss of a feeling of control that can damage our feelings of self-worth it behoves even cash strapped families to set a little aside every month. Savings not only give you the feeling of knowing you’re insulated from risk if you face an unexpected expense, they help you feel much more in control of your financial future.
Get yourself a savings account with a healthy APR and pay whatever you can every month. Set aside less when times are lean and more when the weather is fairer and as the months go by you’ll always be pleasantly surprised by what’s waiting for you in your savings account.
When you feel in control of your finances, you feel much more in control of your life and much better about yourself!
*This is a collaborative post*