7 Ways to Practice Financial Self Care
Mental health has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. With the harmful effects of social media beginning to come to light, social distancing taking its toll, and an underlying sense of uncertainty on what the future holds, there's been a priority placed on self care.
But what about financial self care?
We're facing catastrophic student loan debt, historically low wages, and inflated housing prices to name just a few things.
Financial self care means building a healthy relationship with money, developing good habits, and creating clarity in your financial life so you can feel good about your money.
I am, and always will be, a believer that personal finance is 90% personal and 10% finance.
With that, I believe it's essential to practice financial self care just as we should practice personal self care and these are 7 ways to do so:
1. Have conversations
For as long as money has existed, there's been a stigma around talking about it.
It's frowned upon to talk about salaries at work, parents typically don't share money conversations with their kids, friends usually don't grab drinks and talk about money.
It's understandable, but the reason I put this at number one is because I believe it's the most important.
Everything begins with a conversation.
I'm not saying you have to reveal your net worth to strangers or start tweeting out how much money you make, but a lot of good can come from conversation.
For example, when I was working at my last job, I found out that a co-worker (who I was friends with) had started the job after me, had less experience, but they were making almost $10,000 more. Had we not had a conversation around it, I never would've known.
Now, this didn't change anything as I was planning to leave the company anyways and I didn't resent the person, but it just opened my eyes to two things:
1. How easily employees can be taken advantage of by a company's lack of transparency and shunning of conversations around salary
2. How important it is to have conversations to avoid being stuck in a position where you aren't being paid your worth
By engaging in more conversations around money you may learn something new or may even discover new opportunities that lead to a better financial future.
2. Create meaningful goals
Many people wander through life without goals. Without direction, it's hard to know what actions to take in life and our financial life is no different.
Setting goals helps you develop a plan and action items.
Trying to get ahead financially without goals is like starting a road trip with no phone and no gas.
Goals not only give you a North Star to work towards, but they help reinforce the meaning behind actions that need to be taken.
If your parents told you that you needed to save money, that message probably wouldn't result in much action.
But if you set a goal of saving $200/month so you could go on your dream vacation in 2 years, the chances you end up saving that $200 every month is a lot higher because you have a tangible goal that you created yourself and an end result in mind.
3. Address known problems
From my own experience, a common cause of anxiety is lack of action when you know action needs to be taken.
A 2016 study found that 85% of Americans reported feeling some level of anxiety around money and a majority said that this caused negative impacts on their health, social lives and careers.
While financial anxiety is a common problem, a few ways to address it are:
- Scheduling a money date with yourself or your partner
A money date isn't as exciting as a normal date, but it allows you to have some dedicated time to review your finances and slowly work towards solving the problems
- Meeting with a financial therapist
Just like a regular therapist, money therapists exist to help people develop a better relationship with money
By taking actions and addressing known problems, you can begin working towards solutions and ultimately, building a positive mindset and relationship around your finances.
4. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help isn't only a form of financial self care, but self care in general.
I'm guilty of always trying to figure things out on my own for whatever reason, but you can get so much farther simply by asking for help.
As mentioned in the previous point, financial therapists are one of the few people in the world dedicated to helping you solve the mental side of money. A financial planner can help work through the numbers and build financial plans, but most aren't able to help solve underlying behaviors.
Depending on what you believe you may need help with, there are professionals out there to help.
You're not weak for asking for help, you're self-aware and self-awareness is one of the greatest strengths you can possess.
5. Invest in yourself and your future
When you hear the word "investing", if I had to guess, I would say that the first thing that comes to mind is money and the stock market.
But investing is much more than that.
By definition, investing is the allocation of resources (usually money, time or energy) with the expectation of a future benefit.
- Buying a self-help book is an investment
- Taking a class or course to learn a new skill is an investment
- Upgrading your work-from-home space so you can have a more enjoyable, productive work experience is an investment
- Reading an hour each day to expand your knowledge is an investment
- Working out a few times a week is an investment
By investing in yourself, you're also investing in a better future.
Don't be afraid to make investments in yourself, but also be aware of the difference between spending money to cope with an underlying problem and spending money as a true investment in yourself.
(Additionally, investing in Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, and other accounts are also good decisions 😊)
6. Automate your money
One of the easiest, and most impactful, forms of financial self care is putting your money on autopilot.
What do I mean by this?
We're all humans and we all have flaws. It's easy to forget to save money or make investments each month.
By using the technologies given to us, such as automated bank transfers and automated investment deposits, we can remove some of the human error from trying to build good money habits.
Read: How to Automate Your Money
7. Don't be too hard on yourself
If you don't follow your budget perfectly, it's okay.
If you haven't invested as much as you should have yet, it's okay.
Always remember: Money is nothing more than a tool to get you where you want to be
Money doesn't define who you are. Having less of it doesn't make you less of a person than someone who has a multi-million dollar trust fund.
We're all just trying to figure it out and just because someone else might be farther ahead than you doesn't mean you're a failure. Comparison kills confidence and leads to the feeling of inadequacy and when it comes to money, these feelings can be detrimental.
If you have a less-than-ideal relationship with money, following a few of these steps may lead to building a healthier relationship, which can then lead to making better decisions, which then leads to a better financial life as a whole.