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STOP WISHING FOR FRIDAY: Make a plan, stick to it

- Belle DeMont
- Belle DeMont

Boost your resilience battery: Financial Health

Staying resilient takes work at any age but especially when you are starting a new career or growing one.

Many people have found themselves in this situation where you must start lower on the rung of the career ladder than you expected. Very few get to jump out of their training and schooling to get their dream job. Some never get to their dream job. The job market is competitive and expectations of hitting targets, bringing new ideas to the monthly meeting and being awesome every day is now becoming the norm.

If it is a dream job, most likely it is competitive. You are not the only one with the dream. Young workers feel like they are letting the company and their aspirations down if they are not on 24/7. In past generations you would commute to work in the morning, work a full day and then head home at 5 p.m. not to think of work again until the next morning. Today 42 per cent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation and millennials are most inclined to remain “on” during off hours.

This is comical as millennials don’t have a reputation as a hard-working generation. Every generation since the dawn of time believes the next generation does not work as hard as them.

“This generation is so lazy! They don’t know what hard work is. They think things are going to be handed to them.”

The reason it’s funny is because they do work really hard. It’s a fact. Millennials are more likely to forfeit unused vacation days than other groups – 24 per cent of millennials, 19 per cent of Gen Xers and 17 per cent of boomers gave up time off they’d earned. They are also working longer hours: 83 per cent have reported working more than 40 hours a week and 23 per cent work over 50 hours a week, while 21 per cent are working two or more paid jobs. Maybe this is one reason mental health is a little worse off than before. Not the reason, just one.

Working more for less

So why are they working so hard? Of course, it is the career aspirations, but they make less than previous generations. Millennials make 20 per cent less than boomers did at the same stage of life and have half the net worth, despite being better educated. Their home ownership is much lower, and they have crushing student debt. In 1950 you had a 79-per-cent chance of making more money than your parents; by 1980 that fell to a 50-per-cent chance. Most households have two people working or one person working two jobs. The most profound stat out of the recent U.S. crisis was that 40 per cent of Americans could not pay for a $400 emergency. That would stress me out daily.

Our research has shown how much harder it is to remain resilient when dealing with financial stress, how hard it is to maintain health habits. “Just be active, just eat right, just get to bed on time.” Easier said than done when you are working two jobs, can’t afford the right foods, haven’t the time to prepare a meal or you would like a little down time after coming home from your second job.

Resilience for a rainy day emergency

The struggle is real. Resilience takes work.

A good step is determining if you are living within your means. It is the classic situation of evaluating your wants from needs. Those that have money in the bank for a rainy day or a $400 emergency are less stressed, thus, are more likely to have more resilience. You can be exercising, meditating and have solid relationships, but debt could be killing your resilience. Credit card debt in the U.S. just surpassed $1-trillion. This is one of the worse debts as the interest is typically the highest. There are lots of credit card counselling services if you are struggling with this. Step one is to reach out for help.

Next, understand that just because you buy something does not mean you can afford it. If you buy a house or car, can you afford to put money away every month for a fund that handles fixing a muffler, a water heater, brakes or a leaky roof. How many friends have you seen get a dog and not realize the costs associated with owning a pet? Our dog had a serious illness last year and spent eight days in the ER. We now call him “new kitchen.” During our decision to get a pet we factored all this in. I showed my wife the costs, how much monthly we would need to put away and how much more we would have to work to produce the revenue or what we were willing to cut to have Rudy. I saw one chap come in to the ER with his dog and slam $1,500 in cash on the table and say “call me when it is done and I will come and get him, that is all I have for this.” I totally respect the decision but would not want to be the one making it.

Planning for the future also should factor in to this. Only 14 per cent of Canadians have a pension plan so it is up to you to start right away if you do not want to work until you go into the ground. This again is where professional advice can help. Google “dollar-cost averaging” and assess why adding a little bit each month can add up to a big chunk of change at the end. There are many people who can help with this. Here in Halifax you have people like Chris Valardo, who is passionate about helping people. RBC has always treated me right and the group on Spring Garden Road has done workshops for me that were a hit in organizations I work with.

Saving is not always fun. Who doesn’t want the newest cellphone, a better car, to eat at a nice restaurant or take a warm vacation? Most of us. However, the ramifications can be increased stress due to living outside your means.

This is just one way to charge your battery to live a thriving life. Don’t let money be a source of stress if you can help it. Get a plan in place and work it.

Stay resilient.

Darren Steeves is the owner of, a company dedicated to improving organizational health one step at a time.

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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