We live in a world that’s increasingly hectic and materialistic. With so much going on, it can be hard to make sure to take time for yourself and ensure that you are in a good place physically, mentally, and emotionally. One strategy that’s becoming more and more popular is taking time for self-care. While traditional self-care has focused more on the mind, body, and soul, there’s something to be said for making sure you’re also in a good spot financially as part of your self-care routine.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care can mean different things to different people, but the common thread is something that allows you to take care of your mind, body, and soul. Many self-care strategies restore, relax, or rejuvenate you. The World Health Organization defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
How Do Finances Fit in With Self-Care?
So, if self-care is primarily something that allows you to promote or maintain your health, how do finances fit in with a self-care routine? To answer that question, it's important to think about what good health means. For most of humanity's history, good health has meant nearly exclusively good physical health. It has only been recently that people have started to think about the importance of good mental and emotional health.
When you think about it, it becomes clear that good financial health can have a direct impact on other forms of health. If you don't have a lot of extra money, you might find yourself not able to have routine preventative care on a regular basis. Delaying preventative medical care has the tendency to cause significant long-term problems. And with regards to emotional health, worrying about money is one of the biggest causes of stress out there. So, taking a few steps for financial self-care can help reduce or eliminate that stress.
6 Tips to Make Financial Wellness Part of Your Self-Care Routine
Here are a few tips that you can try out to make financial wellness part of your regular self-care routine. While not all of them might work for you, you can use this list as inspiration to get work towards getting yourself to a better place!
Think about your relationship with money — Money can be a very emotional topic for many people. While the basics of good money management (spend less than you earn) are simple in theory, it can be challenging to implement them in practice. Spend some time thinking about how you feel about money and how that affects your everyday choices.
Educate yourself about good financial practices — Knowledge is power, and nowhere is that truer than in finances. Understanding good financial practices can help you implement them as part of your regular routine. Consider listening to podcasts on finances or collaborating with others interested in learning about money.
Start a budget — A budget is one of the most important things that you can do to arrange your finances. But besides just listing out your monthly income and expenses, also consider a budget based on the happiness that each of these items brings to your life. That can help guide what amounts you put in for different categories.
Regularly review your recurring expenses — Gone are the days when you could just pay for something once and own it forever. Now, it's common for many things to come with monthly subscriptions (and fees). While it's not a problem to pay a monthly fee for something you're still using and enjoying, it's a good idea to regularly review your list of subscriptions and cancel any that you're not using.
Automate your savings — One of the best ways to achieve financial wellness and stability is to automate as much of your budget and savings as possible. One great tip is to have a separate savings account and automatically withdraw money each month from your checking account. When you pay yourself first, oftentimes you won't even notice the money missing.
Pay down your debt (but be realistic) — It's generally a good idea to pay down and eliminate your debt, but it's also important to be realistic about how long the process might work. If you have outstanding medical, consumer, or student loan debt, make a list of all your debts, ranked in order of interest rate or amount, and start paying them down. When you make it a goal and move any extra cash you have towards your debts, you might find it ends up taking less time than you think to become debt-free.
How To Get Started on the Path to Financial Wellness
If you find yourself in a position where you would like to improve your overall financial wellness, it may feel a bit overwhelming. If that's the case for you, the important thing is to start with small, actionable steps and continually make progress. Sit down with the others in your family or household and have an honest chat about the current state of your finances and where you'd like to be.
It's much more important to continue making incremental improvements than it is to tackle everything you want to change about your finances in one go. Start by looking at where you are at today and write down some reasonable goals, with steps on how you want to achieve them. Some examples might be:
If you don't have a budget, make a goal to start one.
If you don't have an emergency fund, start putting money aside each month. Anything is better than nothing!
Make a list of any debts that you have and plan to start paying them down.
The Bottom Line
Being financially secure is an important part of taking care of your overall physical, mental, and emotional health. If you are struggling financially, it can be hard to take the best care of your body, and you may also be feeling mental and emotional stress. Taking time to regularly review and improve your finances can pay enormous dividends to your overall mental and physical well-being. The key is to start slow, be realistic in what you can accomplish, and try not to feel overwhelmed. Stick with it and before you know it, you’ll find yourself in a much better financial state.