Financial News – January 2022

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Relating to Resolutions

    Your columnist will spare you all of the financial New Year’s resolutions and the concomitant set up for pain and disappointment. There are enough listicles in the spirit of “22 Financial Changes to Make in 2022.”
    Sure, marginal improvements to finances can make a person happier, but rather than working more or bleeding every penny, let’s focus on research that shows that giving yourself a break also increases happiness.
    This is the finding of a recently published study conducted by researchers at Ohio State, Rutgers, and Harvard Business School.
    “There is plenty of research which suggests that leisure has mental health benefits and that it can make us more productive and less stressed,” said Selin Malkoc, one of the study’s authors.
    Indeed, since the ability to afford a break increases with wealth, it is no surprise that both financial health and leisure increase happiness. But life is more nuanced than this correlation. Higher earnings often go to people with better work ethic and less proclivity for taking a break. This crowd should pay special attention to the leisure study.
    “We find that if people start to believe that leisure is wasteful, they may end up being more depressed and more stressed,” said Malkoc.
    Yet, there is hope for workaholics if they can only convince themselves that leisure is part of a larger goal.
    “If leisure can be framed as having some kind of productive goal, that helps people who think leisure is wasteful get some of the same benefits,” said Rebecca Reczek, the study’s co-author.
    One goal of leisure time might be to increase the quality of your relationships.
    If that alone is not enough for you to push the chair away from the desk, consider that relationships are the greatest predictor of happiness, health and longevity. That is the conclusion of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has followed 724 then-teenagers since 1938 for their entire lives.
    “The lessons of this study are not about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message we get from this study is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier,” according to Robert Waldinger, the fourth director of the 83-year (and counting) study.
    The implications of all this research for your financial resolutions are simply given not to let those resolutions get in the way of spending quality time with those you care for. “The good life is built with good relationships,” as Waldinger said.
    I would tell you more if you are not yet convinced, but it’s time for my break!

David can be reached at dborn@pfmpartner.com.

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