Finances are a common cause of stress and anxiety for many people. Especially for millennials – our ‘coming of age’ coincided perfectly with the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 that saw many honest people without jobs and without homes.
Getting your finances in order involves a lot more than budgeting and investing. It’s also about getting in the right headspace to deal with financial distress head on and build a financial secure future. That’s where financial self-care comes in.
Financial self care isn’t about eating well and moving your body. But it’s just as important. Read on for 13 ways you can start practicing financial self care in your life.
1. Practice gratitude for what you have
It’s important to save for big goals and invest for retirement. But sometimes it can feel like a constant hamster wheel of earning money and saving money for a goal that’s far off in the distance. It’s easy to forget about how much you already have.
Take a minute to practice gratitude for what you already have. It’s a wonderful reminder to live in the present and enjoy your life in the moment while you’re busy planning for your future.
2. Give yourself the freedom to spend money
Just because you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun or that you can never spend any money. When done right, a budget gives you the freedom to spend money on what matters the most to you.
Create a fun money sinking fund for yourself. A sinking fund is like a piggy bank where you put some money aside for a specific goal. Include your fun money sinking fund in your budget and start adding a little bit of money to it every month.
It doesn’t have to be very much – whether you’re able to put in $100 or $10. Just start setting some money aside for your fun money sinking fund. When you’re ready, you can go ahead and use that money for something fun.
Your fun money fund is dedicated to just that – fun! Spend it however you want without guilt or remorse. And most importantly, without compromising your financial health and your other financial goals.
3. Conquer your fears
It’s easy to try to ignore your financial situation, especially if you’re feeling the weight of crushing debt. But this will only prolong the anxiety and stress that comes with having to owe money.
Instead, take action and make a plan to address your situation. Get it all out on paper. Make a list of all your debts to get a snapshot of where you are now. Then, you’ll have more mental clarity to start creating a plan to tackle your debt.
Decide which debt you want to pay off first – the one with the highest interest rate, or the one with the largest balance. Then, take a look at your budget to see where you can find extra money to throw at that debt, on top of your regular minimum debt payments.
We fear what is unknown to us. That’s why we get afraid of the dark. So, list all your debts down on paper and turn on the lights.
4. Set clear & achievable financial goals
Just like you set goals for what you want to achieve in life, you should also set goals for your finances. Perhaps you want to be prepared for emergencies, or you’re trying to pay off debt.
Or maybe you want to save money to travel the world and secure your retirement. Goals will help guide your decisions and give you a healthy dose of motivation along the way.
They’re also a fantastic way to ensure that you’re using your hard earned money to build a life that brings you joy, purpose and happiness. Because it’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does give you the opportunity to pursue a life you love.
5. Keep a spending journal
Humans are emotional beings. And money is about so much more than just maths – it’s about human behaviour. That’s why personal finance is so personal and unique to every different person.
You might not be aware of why you really spend money. Sometimes it’s because you need something. But more often than not, spending money is a way to deal with difficult emotions like anxiety, stress or sadness.
Retail therapy is a real thing! Keep a spending journal for 30 days. This isn’t just to track your spending, it’s also to make a note of how you were feeling at the time you made your purchase and what was going on in your life.
You might notice a pattern in your spending that’s highlighting a deeper issue. Once you have that awareness, you can start to address those emotions and invest in your mental health.
6. Have a monthly money meeting with your partner
Finances have a major cause of divorce for a long time. It’s one of those things that couples struggle to communicate about, which leads to fighting, resentment and sometimes the end of the relationship.
The way you handle your money is highly personal, which is why it can sometimes cause friction when you’re trying to manage money with someone else.
Set aside a monthly date night with your partner to discuss money. Keep an open mind regarding each others’ perspective about spending and saving money.
Before you start making compromises, restrictions or demands, just try to understand each others’ perspective. How does your partner feel about spending and saving? What financial goals do they have?
It’s also important to discuss your financial goals as a couple. What goals do you have for yourself individually and what goals are you trying to achieve together?
This will help you get on the same page about money. You can then create a budget that helps you achieve your goals as a couple and also allows you each to spend and save in the way that makes sense to you.
7. Create a will & update your beneficiaries
We can’t stop death, but we can be prepared for it – at least in terms of making sure our loved ones are financially taken care of. Worrying about your loved ones in the event of your death is often a major source of financial anxiety.
Speak to a legal professional to create a will and ensure that beneficiaries are defined for all your assets and accounts. Having this important task. taken care of means that you can live in the present without anxiety and stress. You could also consider options for life insurance, especially if you have children.
8. Eliminate expenses that don’t bring you joy or value
Let’s face it – you work really hard for your money. So, your money should put to good use so that you can live a life of joy and purpose. Chances are that you’re spending money on things that don’t bring any true joy or value to your life.
Think of thinks like those app subscriptions that keep getting charged to your credit card every month. Make it your mission to eliminate expenses that don’t serve you.
Take some time to look over your bank statements and identify any costs you might be able to eliminate. If it doesn’t add any joy or value to your life, let it go. By letting it go, you’ll be creating space in your budget for more things that truly matter to you.
9. Choose to spend money on experiences over things
In most normal cases, the joy that material things bring us is fleeting. Eventually, the novelty wears off and our things lay forgotten, gathering dust until they’re one day dutifully decluttered.
Memories, on the other hand, seem to embed themselves in our souls. They become stories we share with new friends and moments we remember with old friends.
They teach us more about ourselves, the world and our place in it. Experiences, like travelling, are the gifts that truly keep on giving. They allow you to learn and grow, and live a richer life.
If your spending habits are leaving you feeling empty and uninspired, try swapping material things for experiences. Whether it’s travelling, going to the theatre or taking a cooking class. Every experience adds something more to our lives.
10. Listen to personal finance podcasts
It would have been amazing if we were taught everything we needed to know about money in school – budgeting, investing, choosing financial products and saving. But we weren’t.
This can be a long term source of stress and anxiety when you feel like you don’t know what to do with your money. But here’s the good news – you can take action right now and start investing in yourself.
There’s a lot of information out there on all finance topics from saving money at the grocery store to investing for retirement. Self-education is now easier and more accessible than it has ever been before.
11. Start talking about money with your friends
Surely, in 2021 money should no longer be a taboo topic that only Wall St types talk about. Try talking about money with your close friends and family.
You don’t have to tell them all your secrets, but just start by asking them if they’re saving up for anything in particular. The best way to remove the stigma around discussing money is to actually do it!
I know that we all worry about being judged or misunderstood. But if you’re feeling anxious about that, you can almost guarantee that your friends are too.
Personal finances can be a lonely topic. We’re all dealing with something, we all have goals and dreams, and we all stress about money at some point. But that doesn’t mean we have to suffer alone.
When we talk about money, we can support and encourage each other. And we might learn a few things along the way, too.
12. Get intentional about your spending
Junk food might be delicious in the moment, but in the end you’re still not feeling nourished or satisfied. The same applies to how you spend your money.
Spending money is easy – sometimes, too easy. We tend to make hasty purchasing decisions when we’re stressed, emotional or tired. That way we end up buying the wrong thing, spending more than we intended to or buying things we don’t even want.
We become slaves to impulse shopping. And we don’t realise what we’ve spent our hard earned money until we log into our bank accounts later in the week.
Your money should serve you. Get intentional about how you spend it to make sure that you’re only spending it on things you really want. An awesome tool for this is the good old wish list.
Keep a wish list as a note or reminder on your phone. You can note down all the things you’d like to buy or spend money on. Then, when you feel like spending and have the room in your budget, you can buy something you really wanted.
13. Reflect on your money mindset
Believe it or not, your feelings and opinions about money probably started developing before you ever really had any. We learn so much about handling money by watching our parents as we grow up.
And while that can teach you some valuable lessons, it can also create some money roadblocks for you down the line. For example, seeing your parents fight about money would have been a huge source of stress. That might be why you avoid communicating with your partner about money as an adult.
These roadblocks may be stopping you from building life you love, but it doesn’t mean that they’re permanent. You need to tear those roadblocks down, one at a time.
Start by writing down all of your thoughts, opinions and beliefs about money. Then, write down why you think those things. What is it that made you believe those things about money?
This is a really eye opening exercise and while it may not clear those roadblocks immediately, it’ll illuminate where those thoughts really come from.
You can then reframe any negative thoughts into positive affirmations. Keep your affirmations somewhere close where you can refer to them whenever you’re working on your finances.
For example, instead of believing that you can’t work a budget because you’re bad at maths, tell yourself that you’re learning how to get better at budgeting, one step at a time.
Financial self care is just as important as taking care of our minds and our bodies. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy almost everything else including the chance to build a life that brings you joy and purpose. Start by practicing a little bit of financial self care every day. Because you don’t have to be a millionaire to live a rich life.