Think back to a night when you were lying in bed awake, worrying over something. If I had to guess, I’d say that ‘something’ was one of three things: your job, your relationship, or your finances. Money is a huge stressor in all of our lives. That’s why practicing financial self care is vital to controlling your stress levels and finding balance in your life. Here’s how to do it!
Not All Self Care Is Glamorous
In fact, I’d venture to say that most of it isn’t.
Sure, some forms of self-care are Instagrammable. (I’m a sucker for an aesthetically pleasing bath bomb video.) Other types aren’t as pretty. Financial self care is one of them.
There’s nothing ‘fun’ or ‘cute’ about sitting down, tracking your expenses, and creating a plan to pay off your debt. That doesn’t mean it’s any less important to your wellness and happiness.
Money & Stress
For most adults, money – not having enough of it, spending too much of it, or not knowing how to manage it – is a major stressor in our lives. In fact, 75% of millennials.) say that their finances are a major source of stress.
When that stress is left unchecked, it seriously affect your physical health. Increased stress leads to less sleep, an unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, and even fertility problems. In short, it messes with your entire body, not just your brain.
Fortunately, financial self care (and self care in any form) can decrease your stress levels and make day-to-day issues easier to manage. When you keep a regular self care routine, you’ll find that you sleep better, focus better, and feel better.
How to Practice Financial Self Care
Just like all other self care, financial self care takes practice. Integrate these steps into your current money management routine to start feeling better about your finances.
1. Get to know your “money story.”
Kids start learning about money as young as two years old. That means that the money lessons you learned back then (even before allowances, birthday money, and piggy banks) built the foundation for how you view your finances today.
As we grow, we learn even more about money by watching our parents and guardians. If you spent your childhood watching your mom cut coupons or your dad complain about gas prices, chances are that scarcity mindset still affects you today. But if you watched your parents blow money on frivolous purchases and rack up credit card debt on expensive trips, you probably hold onto that mindset as well.
Take some time to really think about your money story. How did you view money as a kid? Did you parents manage their money well? How do those things affect your mindset today? When you get to know your money story, you can start working through the bad habits or stresses you might be carrying from childhood.
2. Understand where your money goes.
Nothing will make your stomach drop quite like checking your bank account to see a double- or single-digit balance when you expected way more. (Let’s not even talk about having your card declined out in public. Terrible.)
Unless you keep good track of your money and where it’s going, you’ll never have a solid grasp on your finances. You’ll constantly feel like you have more in the bank than you actually do, and you’ll end up overspending because of it.
For one month, track every single purchase you make. Write them down. Categorize them. Determine which were necessary, which were just for fun, and which you probably shouldn’t have made. Then, use that data to make a simple budget, and keep tracking where your money goes.
3. Plan for the future.
You know what stresses me out? Debt. And you know what’s really good at creating debt? Emergencies.
Think about it. If your car blew a tire or your dog broke his leg today, how would you pay for it? For most of us, we’re run for our credit cards. While I’m a big fan of keeping a credit card for emergencies, I’m an even bigger proponent of saving for these emergencies in advance.
Start setting aside a few bucks a week for an emergency fund, and keep in it a high-yield savings account. In a few months, you’ll be able to pay for minor emergencies out-of-pocket instead of racking up credit card debt. And even if you do have to use your credit card, you’ll be able to pay off the debt more quickly with that emergency fund.
4. Talk about money.
Why is money such a taboo topic?
Most of us grew up learning that we shouldn’t discuss our finances, especially not in a social setting. While I don’t want you to go bragging about your paycheck at brunch, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with talking about money. Break down the stigma and have real conversations with your friends about how they manage their money. Ask for advice. Share your goals. Talk through obstacles. Having a support system is a huge part of eliminating the stress around your finances.
5. Treat yourself!
Keep saving, but don’t be afraid to spend money on things that improve your life. Buy that gym membership. Book yourself to a spa day. Invest in clothes that make you look good and feel good.
Trust me, it’s much easier to stick to financial self care when you regularly see the benefits. So treat yourself. You deserve it!
Ready to declutter your financial life and regain control of your money?
Track your habits and spending goals with this habit tracker template.