Guide to Quality of Life

By Bob Haegele · September 13, 2022 · 11 minute read

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Guide to Quality of Life

Quality of life is surprisingly tough to describe, but most of us know we want to make the most of ours. Broadly speaking, the “quality of life” definition is a subjective perception of one’s overall well-being that includes both positive and negative aspects of our lives. When we say we want a better quality of life, most of us know what that means: We are seeking a “good life,” with positive finances, a comfortable lifestyle, happy professional and personal lives, and not too much stress.

In other words, quality of life includes many realms — our work, our money, our personal connections. All of these elements (and more) are things we can boost if we want to improve our quality of life.

Read on to learn:

•  What is quality of life?

•  What factors influence quality of life?

•  What are financial and other ways of improving quality of life?

What Is ‘Quality of Life’?

What does quality of life mean? It is a subjective measure of one’s overall well-being. It typically includes several components. For example, quality of life includes personal finances, physical and mental health, and relationships. All of these components can positively or negatively influence one’s perceived quality of life.

This means that focusing on one of these aspects at the expense of others could reduce your quality of life overall. For example, suppose you accept a job promotion that brings a hefty salary increase, which you imagine will boost your quality of life. You begin to daydream about a new car and luxe vacations. While higher pay can improve your finances and quality of life, it can also have some hidden downsides. What if you wind up working more, sleeping less, and spending less time with loved ones? You might find your stress levels increase and your quality of life therefore decline. .

In this way, it’s obvious that finding the right balance between personal, professional, and financial factors is important to achieving a good quality of life.

What Factors Define Quality of Life?

As noted earlier, quality of life is not a singular measure but instead captures many aspects of your life. Factors that define quality of life can include:

•  Physical health

•  Sleep habits

•  Mental health

•  Physical safety

•  Job satisfaction

•  Work-life balance

•  Leisure time

•  Financial resources

•  Caring, adequate healthcare

•  Personal and professional relationships

•  Transportation and ease of mobility

•  A comfortable home

As you can see, quality of life captures almost every aspect of our lives.

How Can Finances Affect Your Quality of Life?

Finances can have a major impact on your quality of life. This is simply because money can improve many (but not all) aspects of quality of life.

For example, if you don’t have a lot of money, you might be forced to live in a small, cramped house with your family of five and have a long commute to work. In this case, finances are negatively affecting your quality of life. Perhaps you can’t afford healthy food, a gym membership, or vacations. In that way, finances might also reduce your physical and mental wellness, which are important factors in your quality of life.

But perhaps you get a raise and can afford to move into a bigger house that is closer to your job. Your finances are now positively affecting your quality of life. You can afford to eat better and pay for a yoga class, too. There can be many examples of how money can affect and improve nearly every aspect of our lives.

Financial Ways of Improving Quality of Life

There are many ways to improve your quality of life through financial means. This includes having job security, setting savings goals, and more. Here’s a closer look:

Having Job Security

Having job security can enhance your quality of life. Perhaps the most obvious way is that it makes your income stable. You know exactly how much you will make every month and can budget accordingly.

But job security can improve your quality of life in other ways. Consider a job that isn’t secure, where you could experience a loss of income at any moment. That could hurt your mental health by potentially sending your anxiety and stress soaring.

If you don’t have job security, you might want to consider seeking a new job, training for a different career, or starting a side hustle to bring in more money. These are ways to create stability and improve your financial health.

Knowing Your ‘Why’ Financially

Knowing your “why” financially means you understand where you find fulfillment in terms of money and your overall life direction. You have identified what your financial goals are, and you recognize the most valuable benefits of the money you earn. In this way, you have clear goals that you can pursue. This kind of clarity can represent a form of financial self-care.

For example, perhaps you value and deeply care about education. This might lead you to open a 529 plan to help you save money so your child can attend college. Or maybe you want to make the world a better place, so you work hard so you can donate to a favorite charity.

Until you know your “why,” it is difficult to know how to direct your efforts and how to achieve your financial goals. Once you figure out your motives and goals, you are likely on a better path to improving your quality of life. Invest the time and introspection in figuring this out.

Setting Savings Goals

Setting and achieving your savings goals is a great way to improve your quality of life financially. There are many savings goals you may want to set — an emergency fund, a down payment on a home, retirement, etc.

Some goals will be short-term financial goals, others will be farther into the future. Not only does hitting your goals allow you to achieve dreams like having a destination wedding or buying a house, it can also build your sense of confidence and personal agency. You can see your progress and reach your aspirations.

It’s important to set specific, achievable goals rather than generally having a desire to save money. Getting specific allows you to take specific steps to achieve your goals while also holding you accountable for them. By specifying dollar amounts and automating savings on payday you can make improving your financial quality of life that much easier.

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Increasing Your Financial Knowledge

Increasing your financial knowledge means learning about money and how it works. Achieving financial literacy can deepen your knowledge about all things finance, such as budgeting, saving, and investing. The more you learn, the more you will be able to tweak and optimize your finances to help your money go further.

There are many ways to improve your financial literacy, which can include reading articles, subscribing to newsletters and podcasts, and taking online courses. You can also likely find a wealth of articles on your bank’s website or app as well as many apps that help you manage your money and learn smart tactics.

Investing Your Money

Historically, the stock market is a great way to build your personal wealth and quality of life. But people are sometimes hesitant to start investing because they don’t think they have enough cash or enough knowledge. That’s a common money misconception: You don’t need much money to start investing, and it’s a great way to build wealth.

If you keep your money in a savings account, for example, it likely won’t keep pace with inflation. Even high-yield savings accounts don’t usually earn as much interest as the rate of inflation. If you want your money to grow over time, whatever your goal might be, investing is one of the best ways to achieve that. You might work with a financial professional to get started or, to save money in fees, try a robo advisor, an algorithm that can help you economically pick stocks that fit with your financial goals.

Non-financial Ways of Improving Quality of Life

Money plays a big role in improving your quality of life, but in some cases, your quality of life depends on things money can’t buy. Keep reading to understand some of the most important aspects to consider.

Having Time to Yourself

So many of us lead always plugged-in lives with very little downtime. While it may not be fodder for an amazing social-media post, having time to yourself can have many benefits. It can help you unwind and can ease stress. Many people engage in meditation, which can reduce negative emotions and increase self-awareness.

If meditation doesn’t interest you, there are still plenty of ways to benefit from time to yourself. You could go hiking on a nature trail, exercise, or even just stream some movies or TV at home. There’s no shortage of things you can do alone and still have a good time. You may find your life feels more relaxed and rewarding when you build in some pockets of “you” time.

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

Having Meaningful Relationships

Humans are social creatures, and that means we need other humans. This dates all back to our primate ancestors, who often lived in groups for the sake of survival.

While most of us today aren’t worried about being hunted by lions, tigers, or bears, we still depend on one another. Healthy relationships are associated with several benefits, such as less stress, healthier behavior, and even living longer.

In terms of improving quality of life, you may want to put some effort into prioritizing your personal relationships. Perhaps you and your college roomie schedule a Zoom call for the first Friday of every month, or you meet your work mentor regularly for coffee. Or you and your partner might agree to have an unplugged, no-texting-allowed evening every now and then or pursue a new hobby together to strengthen your bond.

Exercising and Staying Healthy

Your physical health is a key part of your quality of life, and it doesn’t have to be expensive to maintain. You can easily spend money on gym memberships or a personal trainer. However, there are ways to be healthy without spending much.

You can go running, walking, biking, or do a home workout (you can find all sorts of classes, from kickboxing to Pilates, online).

Eating well is another part of good health. Check out the produce at local farmers’ markets; search online for Meatless Monday recipes to help cut back on high-fat forms of protein. You might partner with a friend on these pursuits to have extra support.

Recommended: Are You Bad With Money? Here’s How to Get Better

Getting Good Sleep

Another ingredient in the quest for a better quality of life: getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep needs vary from person to person, but most adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night. It’s also important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

There are many benefits of quality sleep, and they all improve your quality of life. These include getting sick less often, reducing stress, and lowering your risk of health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

If you want to improve your sleep hygiene, as it’s called, look into ways to improve your bedtime habits. Try turning your phone off so you aren’t tempted to reply to texts or check the latest news. Keep your bedroom cool; between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is considered optimal, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Waking up well refreshed can help contribute to a better quality of life.

The Takeaway

Quality of life is a subjective measure of our overall well-being. Typically, both financial and non-financial factors contribute. For instance, if you have a well-paying job that is also super stressful, your quality of life might not be great despite having plenty of spending money. To optimize your quality of life, it’s wise to consider both your money habits and your financial goals, as well as such aspects as mental and physical health, career stability, and the quality of your personal relationships.

One way to improve your quality of life is to have the right banking partner. When you open a SoFi online bank account with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no account fees, which can help your money grow faster. Plus, you’ll have access to a suite of tools that can make budgeting and saving that much simpler.

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Do you need to be rich to have a high quality of life?

There are many factors that affect quality of life. Having a lot of money can help you have a high quality of life but it certainly doesn’t guarantee it. People with a lot of money may wind up with more stress. It’s possible to achieve a high quality of life without a hefty bank balance.

Why is quality of life important?

Quality of life is important because it touches every aspect of our lives. It involves our physical and mental health, finances, job satisfaction, free time, and much more. Having a high quality of life means having an overall satisfaction across all of these realms.

How can we achieve quality of life?

There is no one way to achieve a high quality of life; it very much depends on personal circumstances, both financially and in other realms. To optimize yours, you might start with improving your finances, sleeping and exercising more, or deepening your personal relationships. In general, you can start by identifying the areas of your life that you feel are most lacking.

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