Self-care comes in many forms—exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, treating yourself to a spa day, meditating, taking a vacation, and so much more. All of these activities help reduce our stress levels, ease feelings of anxiety, and ensure that both your mind and body are well taken care of. While you’re likely already taking steps to add activities into your routine that help you care for your physical and mental health, there is one type of self-care that you are probably overlooking—financial self-care.
People say that money makes the world go round, but what they don’t often talk about is that money is also one of the main reasons why we feel anxious or stressed so often. Studies show that even before the worldwide events we’ve experienced these last few years, over 72% of Americans felt stressed about finances. Today, that number is estimated to be a little higher, with approximately 90% of Americans feeling some form of stress because of money matters. Sounds alarming, doesn’t it? Before you start fretting about how your financial situation is stressing you out, let us reassure you that not all is lost. Now that you know that financial stress is likely a part of your life, you can identify it and start implementing some financial self-care practices to help lower your stress levels in this particular area of your life. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help.
The Benefits of Financial Self-Care
Financial stress, just like any other type of stress, can negatively impact your life in a number of ways. It can not only help you better maintain your budget and plan for the future, but it can also ease some of the weight off your shoulders which comes with benefits for both your mental and physical health. But let’s get a little more specific here and take a closer look at some of the benefits you can experience when you start prioritizing financial self-care.
Planning for the Future
We all have our own goals in life, and chances are, you are going to need to spend at least a little money to reach those goals. Whether it’s something as grand as wanting to buy a house or travel the world or as small as wanting to buy that new kitchen gadget or invest in some at-home workout gear, the fact of the matter is that it’s likely going to cost a little money. By prioritizing financial self-care now, you are setting yourself up to be able to plan for and execute those goals in the future while still keeping your stress levels low so you can still enjoy your day-to-day life in the meantime.
Taking Care of Others
We all know that in the case of a plane crash, we should put our own oxygen masks on before helping others with theirs. While your financial situation may not be quite as dramatic as a plane crash, the same concept applies—you can’t help others unless you help yourself first, and that is true about your finances as much as it is about anything else in your life. Whether you want to help your parents when they retire, pay for your child’s college education, or lend a helping hand to your favorite local charity, taking steps to care for your finances now will make helping others much more feasible in the future.
Better Overall Health
It has been established that financial stress can play a role in many health problems, especially when it comes to mental health. Being overwhelmed and worried about money can lead to feeling depressed or anxious, and it can also make you more likely to withdraw from your social life and turn to unhealthy habits as a way to cope. On top of that, stress, no matter what part of your life it’s coming from, can also take a toll on your physical health. Constantly feeling stressed can cause muscle pain and tension, raise your blood pressure, lead to loss of sleep, disrupt your gut health, and much more. By taking steps to incorporate financial self-care into your regular routine, you can lower the stress coming from this area of your life so it doesn’t wear you down mentally or physically.
Financial Self-care Tips
We know that the thought of adding yet another thing to your regular routine can seem daunting, especially when that thing involves the money matters that are already stressing you out. But, don’t worry too much. There are a variety of financial self-care practices out there, which means that you are sure to find one that will not only work for you but will also be easy to implement into your life. Here are just a few examples of things you can try.
1. Budgeting and Expense Tracking
This is a tried and true tip for prioritizing financial self-care, and it comes with one very big benefit—versatility. You can be as detailed or as broad as you want when it comes to your budget and expense tracking. If it works for you, you can set up a system that helps you track every dollar that you make and spend so you know exactly where you stand financially. With that being said, tracking things in that much detail may bring you more stress than it relieves. If that’s the case, you can lighten it up a little. Maybe you only track unexpected spending for now, or maybe you’d rather focus on one area of expenses that tends to bring the most stress (like your grocery budget or impulse spending).
2. Set Automated Bill Payments
Does your financial stress come from a tendency to forget to pay bills on time? Or maybe you have difficulty finding time in your busy schedule to write and mail out those checks? If so, then one of the best ways you can practice financial self-care is by automating those bill payments. We are in the age of technology, which thankfully means that automatically paying your bills each month is easier than it’s ever been. Not only will this save you time, but it will also help save you a little money as well (goodbye late fees!).
3. Plan a Money Date
Whether you decide to follow a detailed budget or not, it’s important to check in on your finances on a regular basis. This is where a money date becomes helpful. A money date is simply a time you regularly set aside to review your finances. If you’re married or sharing finances with others in your household, this is a particularly effective way to not only stay up-to-date on your financial situation, but also make sure you and everyone else involved in the house’s financial situation are on the same page. You can opt to have a money date on your calendar once or twice a month, or more frequently if you need to.
4. Plan The Future By Investing
Investing is simply making your money work for you. It’s a way to generate a passive income that you can benefit from in either the short or long term. Essentially, when you choose to invest, you will set some money aside so that it can generate more money over the next few months or years. This way, you will have even more money that you can enjoy later.There are many different types of investing out there, so be sure to do your research or talk to a financial expert before getting started.
5. Turn To Financial Experts
Speaking of financial experts, they are a great resource when it comes to financial self-care. If you feel overwhelmed and need more financial self-care ideas, you can turn to a money or financial professional for more guidance. For example, you can reach out to a debt counselor who can help you manage your debts. For investment opportunities, there are experts in that field who can guide you on the best options for you. Talking out your financial problems and getting assistance from an expert is a fantastic way to care for your finances and lift some of that stress off your own shoulders.
6. Decide with Confidence
Another simple and effective way to care for your finances is to make money decisions wisely and with confidence. If there are home repairs you need to make, go ahead and hire someone to get the job done because it will likely save you money in the long run. If you’re tempted to accept an invitation to dinner with your friends, but aren’t committed to spending that money, then hold your own boundaries and politely decline. If you bought a shirt, pair of shoes, or other product online that ends up not working out for you, return that item and accept the refund that comes with it. These types of situations may seem too small to matter, but they come up often, and when you hold your money boundaries and make a decision with confidence, it can have an impressively positive impact on your finances in the long run.
7. Apply Healthy Coping Habits
At the end of the day, no matter how many financial self-care strategies you implement, there will still be times when your finances stress you out, so be prepared to cope with that stress in a healthy and productive way. Find stress-relieving activities like exercise and meditation that you can participate in regularly, and learn how to leverage strategies like mantras and deep breathing to help you calm your mind in the heat of the moment.
Practice Financial Self-Care Today
Your financial health is just as important as your physical and mental health, and by prioritizing financial self-care, you’re taking a significant step toward a happier, healthier life.
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