When we think of self-care, we think of our body, our skin, our health, our emotional state. However, your financial state affects everything around you, so making time for financial self care is critical to your overall wellness. Here are some tips for practicing financial self care.
When we think of self-care, we think of our body, our skin, our health, our emotional state. We don’t realize it, but it also means instant gratification. The common practice of self-care is when we reach our breaking point–or are very close to it–and we need to feel better now. So we indulge in retail therapy, which is scientifically-backed to improve our mood. Or we #TreatYourself and impulsively buy the latest gadget or go out for a nice meal. None of these are bad. The instant gratification we get from indulging ourselves releases dopamine into our brain, which improves mood, motivation, and attention.
But the evolution of self care has transformed into something that now costs money. And when you think about the fact that, in 2016, 85% of Americans reported feeling some level of anxiety or psychological stress around money, our current usage of the term “self care” can seem counterintuitive at times.
What is financial self care?
When we talk about finance, we need to talk long term. And when we consider finance and self-care, we begin to realize that spending money does not always feel good. Maybe buying that $100 pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing feels good immediately, but if you are carrying debt, or take that money from a fund reserved for something else, when you sit down to address your bills, that $100 pair of shoes will bring stress.
Financial self care requires you to think beyond the immediate gratifications of self-care. Financial self care is a reframing of self care as an investment in a future you–as a decision you are making in service of your long-term wellbeing.
With mainstream media valuing a self care that provides instant gratification, practicing financial self care will not be easy at first, nor may it feel good, but its benefits will be tenfold.
What is not financial self care
Financial self care is not about spending the most money. It is not about having a high net worth, nor is it about building an entire life around money.
Look up #PersonalFinance or #BudgetTips on Instagram and you will find hundreds of accounts tracking every penny they spend, creating detailed monthly and yearly budgets, or having 10+ streams of income. Remember, personal finance is personal. Your financial self care does not have to look like this.
Signs of financial anxiety
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we must always be prepared financially in the case of an emergency or sudden life changes. COVID-19 has illuminated that financial health can impact our entire health.
Here are some common signs of financial anxiety or stress:
- You use your credit cards to avoid checking your account balance
- You wait until the last minute to pay off your bills
- The thought of tracking your spending makes you very uncomfortable
- Frugality to the extreme, to where it may sometimes make you feel anxious
- A difficult time making decisions around spending
- Relying on others to handle your financials
If any of these resonate with you, continue reading for some tips to ease these anxieties and practice financial self care.
How to Practice Financial Self Care
First, you need to identify what exactly is causing you stress. This can be done in conversation with a partner or completely solo. Use these sentence starters to try to identify the root of your financial stress:
- When talking about ______, I feel stressed because __________.
- The thought of money makes me feel _______.
- My money story from when I was a child looked like _________.
The last question is one that we at Yo Quiero Dinero ask each of our podcast guests. The guests we invite all identify as first-generation wealth-builders, which is a radical practice. By asking to talk about their money story, we learn that there is often a scarcity mindset around money. If you listen to any of our debt payoff episodes, one of the narratives we have heard often comes from a childhood experience around a lack of money that leads to an overspending of money as adults once they start making their own money.
Identifying where your money story starts, and where your money stress comes from, is key to a sustainable practice of financial self care. This will allow you to develop the patience and kindness needed to approach your financial journey as a first generation wealth builder.
- Schedule money dates
On the first of every month, I have “Finance Date” booked on my calendar. This is where I update my net-worth tracker by updating all my account balances, including investment accounts. I see it as a date because I have been able to reframe my financial journey as a journey I am doing in service of the me 10, 15, 20 years from now. I will usually have a glass of wine, light a candle, and really try to create a “date-like” environment.
If you have a partner and share finances, doing these once a month will be great practice towards avoiding long term financial resentment and practicing open communication around finance.
- Map out your money days
I’m talking plotting your paydays on a calendar and practicing gratitude for your income stream(s). On the opposite side, this also means plotting when your bills are due each month. Rather than dreading these days and experiencing stress at the last minute, try visualizing them ahead of time and planning for how to respond to them.
- Identify your why
There is a why to everything we do. But we often get bogged down on the what we do that we lose sight of our why, which will be the only thing that will continue to drive and motivate us even when things get hard. After you’ve identified your money story, identifying the source of stress, and mapping a plan out of your stress, you’ll be able to dig deep and uncover your why. Is it to save for retirement? Retire early? Be able to support you and your family? Be able to go on trips? Find your why and make it visible!
This won’t be an easy journey, but it will be one that has an impact lasting beyond the immediate gratification. Listen to our podcast episodes to hear peoples’ stories and gain the motivation to start your journey towards financial self care!