Through trial and error and a whole lot of practice, you finally feel confident in your financial capabilities. You’ve negotiated a top salary. You contribute to your 401(k). You know how to invest on your own, budget (or at least you try to) and save whenever you can.
But if you’re struggling to balance financial responsibility and your well-being, you aren’t alone. A 2019 study from Capital One and The Decision Lab found that 77% of respondents feel anxious about their financial situation.
Maybe you’re burnt out in a job that doesn’t fulfill you, afraid to lose your health benefits or become unemployed. Or perhaps you’re already one of the more than 10 million Americans who experienced unemployment in the last 12 months.
Regardless of your personal struggle, here are seven ways to balance planning for your financial future while protecting your peace of mind.
Invest in your mental and emotional health
The tolls of modern life are enough to qualify anyone for mental health support.
Anxiety disorders impact 40 million adults in the United States, but only 37% of sufferers are receiving treatment. On top of that, depression and anxiety often go hand in hand.
Trained professionals can make a world of difference Psychologists and therapists help you talk through your experiences to manage stress more effectively, while psychiatrists can prescribe medication as needed to address your more intrusive symptoms.
Your health insurance can help alleviate some of the financial cost. Your provider can show you a list of in-network practitioners. And even if your therapist doesn’t take insurance, you can use your flexible savings account (FSA) funds to cover the out-of-pocket cost.
Move your body
If therapy isn’t in the cards for you right now, consider taking up a mindfulness practice. Yoga and meditation are time-proven ways to guide yourself into a more peaceful state of being.
While you may find yourself drawn to the community environment of yoga and meditation classes, neither practice has to cost money. You can find a number of excellent resources online — for free.
And if you do best with high-intensity activity, a good workout can go a long way toward refreshing your mindset. Again, you may thrive best in a gym or boot camp setting, but you don’t have to splurge to sweat. A good run outdoors or a free YouTube workout at home can be just as effective.
Plan for the future
Let’s face it: We’re all getting older every day. Few of us want to think about old age, and even less of us want to plan for the end of our lives. Yet a little bit of responsibility now can relieve future anguish, not just for ourselves but for our loved ones.
If you don’t already have a plan for retirement, take a weekend to sit down and educate yourself on your options. Index funds, for example, are a straightforward, low-risk way of building long-term wealth. And with the help of a robo-advisor, you can rely on technology to manage the funds in your account.
If there are people who are dependent on you and your income, life insurance may be a really good idea for you in case of emergency. You should also review your estate plan, including wills and powers of attorney.
Creating an emergency fund of three to six months’ worth of expenses will also give you a buffer for immediate situations that may arise.
Splurge a bit — with intention
Building your personal wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. Sticking with a budget is impossible without some enjoyment here and there, even when money is tight.
If you have the spare cash, give yourself an allowance every paycheck, either to splurge on the spot or to save up for a big purchase such as a new phone or a vacation you’ve been wanting to take.
And if you truly don’t have any extra funds, put your pocket change in a jar every time you come home. Once it’s full, treat yourself to a nice dinner out.
But pull back on impulse purchases
It’s important to let yourself enjoy the fruits of your hard work from time to time. But on the flip side of that, your impulse purchases may be contributing to your financial stress.
Perhaps you’re trapped in a vicious cycle where you hate your job, so you shop to help yourself forget about your misery. But as your debt increases, you feel less and less able to quit, so back to swiping your credit cards as retail therapy.
There are many ways to stop yourself from buying things on a whim. But the root cause is always the same: Some part of you wants to avoid thinking about what the purchase represents for you. If you can identify the reason behind your spontaneous shopping, it will be much easier to curb the action.
Show yourself grace
This final tip is the most important aspect of finding financial balance. You’re human, and you’re going to make mistakes no matter what. Whether you slip up on your budget, invest in the wrong thing or quit your job at an inconvenient time, the important thing is to keep looking forward. You can’t change the past, but you can let it go so you can step into your future.
And sometimes, the right choice for your health won’t make sense for your wealth. Starting your own business, pursuing your passions or giving yourself a break may set you back financially for the time being. But the freedom to dream is priceless, so trust your gut. Only you know what’s best for you.
Money comes and goes, but you only get to live this life once. By investing in yourself before all else, you can ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy your life to the fullest, regardless of your financial situation.