Consumer connection: Financial wellness


Financial literacy is being able to understand personal money management skills, such as budgeting, investments, credit and debt. A 2018 study from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) shows 62% of Iowans are unable to answer more than three of five financial literacy questions correctly. Financial illiteracy may lead to poor credit, high levels of debt, a lack of insurance and a deficiency of retirement savings.

Financial literacy can put money worries to rest, but only when we use the knowledge to work for a healthier state of being or what is referenced as financial wellness. Meeting current and ongoing financial obligations, feeling secure in your future and being, capable of making choices that allow us to enjoy life now and in the future is financial wellness. Getting your financial wellness to a secure state of well-being is good for your overall health, too.

Examples of financial wellness are:

Making a budget and sticking to it

Having an emergency fund

Opening a saving account and making regular automatic contributions

Establishing a college savings account for your child and contributing

Managing your debt

Purchasing adequate insurance

Knowing your credit score and how it affects you

Contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan and taking advantage of employer matching

Opening your own IRA or ROTH IRA

Consulting a professional when necessary

Financial wellness blooms when we put our financial literacy to work. As with any change in habit, you have to start somewhere. Commit to becoming financially well. Start your journey with a financial plan by educating yourself and setting goals. Performance experts recommend using S.M.A.R.T goals, which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based, or trackable.

Financial wellness is also a current concern among employers. A recent study shows 46% of all employees stress about their finances for at least three hours a week at work. Many employers are offering free financial wellness programs to their staff. Inquire if your employer offers any financial wellness programs, or suggest they do. The Iowa Insurance Division is now offering free financial wellness courses to all state employees and retirees through September. Or use the Iowa Insurance Division’s free and unbiased Save4Later website to learn about a wide range of topics, such as budgeting, investing, insurance and saving for retirement.

Learn the financial skills you need to be financially well and improve your overall state of healthy well-being.

Sonya Sellmeyer is the consumer advocacy officer for the Iowa Insurance Division.