Let’s talk about wellness. Not about drinking more water, or making sure you get enough rest, or watching how much sugar you eat, or anything like that. A different kind of wellness that affects your wallet, your bills, your savings, as well as your overall sense of peace and wellbeing. I’m talking about financial self care.
What is Financial Self Care?
We take steps every day to look after our physical and mental wellness (or at least, you know, we’re going to start doing that next week for sure). Why shouldn’t we do the same for our financial wellness? (Except, don’t wait ’til next week for this one.)
Just like those more familiar types of self care, financial self care is a practice of maintenance. Not necessarily sweeping changes and massive effort. Small steps, regularly applied, that contribute to long term health and positive growth.
In the same way that everyone’s financial situation is unique, your financial self care routine may not look exactly the same as mine, or anyone else’s. But the main focus should always be to keep your financial ecosystem running smoothly, your state of mind calm and focused, and your goals moving forward.
The main thing we’re focusing on here is simple, repeatable tasks that help you make your monetary world feel a little better.
Why is Financial Self Care Important?
When it comes to money, time is everything. It takes time to make money, to grow money. And at the end of the day, what money does best is freeing up or improving our time.
Doing things that take a long time isn’t easy. This is where I’d say “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” if I loved cliches, which I do, so I will. A healthy financial life is a marathon, not a sprint.
And on this marathon, there are two obstacles in particular to watch out for:
- Short bursts of effort won’t get us very far. What we need is long term commitment and consistency.
- Personal finance is prone to becoming totally overwhelming. “Figuring out your financial life” can quickly get so intimidating we’re paralyzed by it.
And these two things together make for a very big challenge indeed: We’re on a long-haul race, with any number of things encouraging us to give up along the way.
The purpose of financial self care is to help us stay on top of both of these challenges. By maintaining our flow, and keeping a healthy attitude about it, we can keep making productive choices and keep fighting the good fight for ourselves for many years to come.
5 Ways to Practice Financial Self Care
1. Check in on Your Spending
If you keep a monthly written budget, then you probably already do this. If not, that’s fine too because you don’t really need a budget. Either way though, it is still a great habit to just take a little look-see at your spending once in a while.
What many people don’t realize about traditional budgeting is that most of the value doesn’t come from planning exactly what you’ll spend and sticking to it. Most of the value comes from awareness. Seeing what you’ve been spending, understanding where your money is currently going. Because that awareness, not setting rules for yourself, is the basis for long-term changes toward healthier spending habits.
2. Learn Something New
While healthy personal finance doesn’t need to be all that complicated, our financial education is never truly “complete.” There is always some new term or concept to learn about, and doing so is a great act of financial self care.
Engaging in continuous financial learning does two key things for you. First, it creates new opportunities for you to make more informed decisions with your money. Second, it reduces the unknowns. It leaves the financial world feeling like less of a big intimidating mystery. This builds confidence and fosters a sense of calm in dealing with your money.
So once in a while, pick up a great personal finance book, or a blog post, or listen to a podcast about money. It’s a win all around!
3. Set (or Update) a Financial Goal
It is always astounding to me what one person can accomplish when they are focused on a clear target. And this is no truer than with money.
An important aspect of financial self care is to nurture your long term vision. Know what you are striving for so that you can build a plan to get there and execute the steps of that plan. Good money habits can be challenging to stick with. That goes double for when you have no clear aim. Take time to develop and clarify your “why,” and you’ll be able to build much more reliable motivation to take yourself to new places with your money.
And hey, it’s okay to update your goals from time to time to keep things in sync with where you are now and where you want to go next.
4. Do an Accounts Check-up
One of the main things we’ve been trying to tackle here with all this financial wellness talk is cutting through the noise to find a sense of order and calm. We don’t want our money matters to get out of hand. Good financial health is simple, and easy to maintain.
One of the most common barriers to that is having a big messy pile of financial accounts. 3 checking accounts, 27 credit cards, retirement accounts, that one weird one with like 50 bucks in it…you know what I’m talking about.
Periodically doing a check-up on your accounts is a gift to yourself. It’s important to be aware of where your assets and liabilities are. A check-up can also highlight if there are any accounts you don’t need anymore, or can combine. Simpler is always better.
5. Have an Honest Conversation About Money
If you share finances with a partner or your family, then you should talk to them about it sometimes. If not, then you should find a close trusted friend or family member to talk to about your money from time to time. Either way, honest conversations about money are a huge boost to a healthy financial life. You don’t have to blast your financial situation to the world, but you also don’t have to navigate money alone.
Sharing your experience, as well as your fears and frustrations with others, is a great way to find validation as well as possible solutions. Hearing your story from someone else’s perspective can open up new possibilities, or at the very least allow them to empathize with you so you don’t have to feel so alone in the fight. Because you’re not alone. Each person’s financial situation is unique. But they’re all made up of similar struggles, worries, and dreams. And we’re all a lot better off sharing honest conversations about those things.