The Value of Mental Health

Justin Rodriguez, CFP®

Jul 26, 2021

As a diehard tennis fan, I jump to discuss tennis whenever I can. There are many life lessons to learn from the game. When tennis and financial planning come together, the nerd in me really comes out!

Recently, one of tennis’ biggest stars caused a stir during one of the sport’s largest tournaments, the French Open, but not for her play on the court. Naomi Osaka, Japanese phenom, tweeted her decision to skip all interactions with the media citing a need to care for her mental health due to the media’s negative impact on her. This might not seem newsworthy until we consider the fortune at stake.  

My goal is not to say whether this decision is right or wrong. Rather, I want to highlight the relationship between our money and our well-being and get you to ask yourself: what’s the value of your mental health?

The Cost of Naomi Osaka’s Decision

Osaka was fined $15,000 after the first round of the French Open when she skipped her contractually obligated press conference. The tournament threatened higher fines if she continued to evade the press and a potential ban from the three other tournaments making up tennis’ “Grand Slam” (Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open).

Osaka is one of the best players in the world and was the highest-earning female athlete in 2020 having made over $37 million. This ban could equate to tens of millions of dollars of lost prize money and endorsements as well as severely damaging her career. Osaka ultimately decided to withdraw from the tournament altogether, forgoing her chance to win the $1.69 million prize.    

So why in the world would Naomi Osaka make this decision when this much money is at stake? Her actions show us the incredible value she places on her mental health. It begs the question: do we value our own mental health this much?

For example, do you know anyone whose mental health might improve if they left that high paying, stressful job? They would likely agree that physical, mental, and financial well-being should all be balanced, yet they’re unable to leave that job despite the chronic stress. I’ve found that it is easy to agree with something in principle but far more difficult to live it out. Osaka put her money where her mouth is.

Money’s Impact on Mental and Physical Health

The link between financial well-being and physical/mental well-being is well-documented in studies—and one you might have experienced in your own life. A recent Discover study found:

  • 90% of respondents said that money impacts their daily stress levels.
  • 34% of people surveyed have lost sleep over their finances.
  • 28% of respondents reported that their financial stress has negatively impacted relationships in their home.
  • 21% reported a tangible negative impact on their physical health

The Positive Impact of a Financial Plan

While everyone faces their own unique situation and set of challenges, there is a common denominator among those that are less stressed about money: having a personalized, understandable financial plan. If there is an opportunity to increase the quality of your sleep, improve relationships with loved ones, reduce stress and give you more confidence about your future, isn’t that something worth pursuing?

Recently, I was working with a client who worried that he wasn’t saving enough to reach his long-term goals. Prior to him becoming a client, he drastically reduced his lifestyle because he thought every dollar spent was a dollar not saved and felt irresponsible spending money on himself. As we started charting his financial path, we discovered that he didn’t have a specific savings goal other than, “save as much as possible!” Taking a hatchet to your spending can be counterproductive and this was taking a toll on him. He was working towards an undefined savings goal that could never be achieved. Without goals in mind and a plan to reach them, we add unnecessary stress to our lives.

Despite the fame and fortune she’s accumulated, Naomi Osaka faces many of the same struggles we do. She values her mental health so highly that she is willing to risk her career to protect it. You and I are in a very different situation than Naomi Osaka. We are not one of the best athletes in the world and we probably don’t have the option to retire at age 23. However, we do have the choice to take charge of our financial lives. Here at TCI, we find fulfillment when we help our clients achieve financial freedom so they can live their definition of a purpose-filled life. Developing a financial plan takes time and effort, but it can reduce stress in your life and improve your mental health. So, what are you waiting for? Naomi Osaka didn’t wake up one morning as a tennis champion and your financial plan won’t build itself.

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