Know thy financial self

Money Mood

Know thy financial self

You’ll make progress toward your financial goals when you acknowledge your relationship with money.


Money can be a source of stress for many people.

But strange as it may sound, actively managing your money can actually reduce that stress.

By acknowledging your relationship with your money today, you’ll empower yourself to make better decisions tomorrow. That confidence will help you make progress toward your goals, step by step. 

How do you feel about your money?

Let’s begin with a simple truth: Money is a top cause of stress in everybody’s life.1

We all juggle day-to-day bills with long-term goals. Surprises and unexpected expenses can throw us off track. 

Sometimes, it can feel like ignoring our budget—or our savings, or our bills—is the best way to manage the anxiety. 

That’s exactly what we don’t recommend. 

If you avoid dealing with your money, you’re more likely to create more financial problems, and more anxiety, in the long term.2

But by understanding a few fundamental numbers, you’ll put yourself in a position to improve any (and every) aspect of your financial picture. 

What numbers should you know?

Money is a numbers game, but keeping track of all those numbers can feel daunting.

That’s why we recommend you take a few small steps by getting to know the most fundamental numbers first. By getting to know these numbers, you’ll begin to understand where you are financially. That understanding, in turn, gives you the ability to make plans to get where you want to be.

For starters, we recommend you understand your:

  • Monthly cash flow: How much do you earn each month? How much do you spend? By calculating your income minus your expenses, you understand whether you’re living within the means provided by your income—and whether you have any additional money left over to contribute to long-term goals.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): How much is your total monthly debt? How much is your income each month before taxes? By dividing your debts by your income, you’ll understand how much pressure you’re putting on your budget. Lenders use your DTI to assess your ability to repay a loan and whether you’re carrying a “safe” amount of debt. The Federal Reserve considers a DTI of 40% or more a sign of financial stress.3 
  • Net worth: What is the total value of your money and assets across all accounts, including property and business equity? What is the total amount of your debts? By calculating your money and assets minus your debts, you understand where you are financially—and, importantly, can better plan to get where you want to be.
  • Emergency fund: What is the value of your emergency fund, and how many months can it sustain you? An emergency fund is money you set aside for unexpected expenses, like medical expenses, home or car repair, or covering your basic needs in the event of a job loss. That kind of buffer is a big deal—nearly 3 in 10 adults are one small financial setback away from not being able to pay their monthly bills.4
  • Credit score: What is your credit score and rating? Your credit score is a calculated number that allows a lender to judge the risk of extending you credit. A good credit score opens doors to big purchases—which can really increase your confidence and ability to make progress in your financial life. The average credit score is 710.5 A credit score above 700 is generally considered good.6
  • Retirement funds: How much are you setting aside for retirement? Retirement is one of the most expensive financial events you’ll encounter in your lifetime. By calculating your savings rate and total amount saved, you can judge how close you are to your retirement goal and how quickly you’re progressing. A common rule of thumb is to save 15% or more of your gross salary for retirement.

Know yourself to grow yourself

Money can be stressful.

But ignoring your money can be worse.

By getting to know your money, you’ll be taking a step towards controlling your financial outcomes. 

Just take one step, then another. Pretty soon, you’ll be unstoppable.

Go to the Upwise app

Download the app to see how Upwise can help you make financial progress you can see and feel. 

1 American Psychological Association. “Stress in America 2020 Survey”.

2 American Psychological Association. “Face the numbers: Moving beyond financial denial”.

3 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “What is a debt-to-income ratio? Why is the 43% debt-to-income ratio important?”

4 Federal Reserve. “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019 - May 2020.

5 Experian. “Experian 2020 Consumer Credit Review”.

6 Experian. “What Is a Good Credit Score?


You’re one click away from building better money habits. Download the app