STOP! Before you whip out your credit card again, let’s go through what self-care really is and how managing your money is a form of self-care.
There are many explanations on what self-care really is. It’s a concept that has grown hugely in popularity, so as per usual, some businesses are using it as a way to increase sales.
Self-care is about so much more than running yourself a bath, or going to a trendy yoga class. It’s about how you treat yourself, educate yourself and secure a future for yourself.
Let’s look at some explanations from people who are better with words than I am!
According to Wikipedia
Self-care is learned, purposeful and continuous. In philosophy, self-care refers to the care and cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self.
I also like this explanation by Raphailia Michael, MA on PsychCentral.com
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
So, self-care is something that can be learned, that we do purposefully and is done to take care of ourselves.
But, what has that got to do with money?
I truly believe that getting control of your finances is a way to practise self-care. So much stress, confusion and worry is tangled up in our relalationships with money.
If we get to a point where we feel like we control our money rather than the other way around, we are taking care of ourselves in a very important way.
Let’s explore this a bit more…..
Let’s be honest, everyone has made silly mistakes with money. From buying cars we couldn’t afford, spending everything we earn, to burying heads in the sand about retirement plans.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand. Forgive yourself past slip-ups and decide to make a change. Starting now.
Learning to let go is a great way to practice self-care as you are intentionally letting go of the guilt you have carried for a long time.
Deciding to forgive yourself and move on will get rid of negative feelings and self-doubt that you ‘aren’t good with money’.
You’ll start talking to yourself in a more positive way when it comes to your finances which is a great way to feel better about yourself.
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When we pretend that retirement is ‘a land far far away’, we are deliberately choosing to ignore the wellbeing of our future selves.
I am sure 80-year-old you will not be best pleased if she barely has enough money for food and housing because 35 year old you was making it rain in restaurants and on shoes that hurt your feet.
If you decide to tackle your retirements plans NOW, you are ensuring the security of yourself when you get older.
Let’s be honest, retirement planning is boring AF. But, once you understand how much you will need, what your employer match is and whether you need to invest any extra, you will feel SO MUCH BETTER.
It will take a while to get your head round it and get your savings set up to leave your account automatically. But once it’s done, it’s done.
A few hours of pain for a lifetime of gain. (I should probably copyright that).
If you don’t know what state your finances are in or you live paycheck to paycheck, there’s a good chance its been nagging at you for years.
This is not unusual, CNBC reported that money was more stressful than work or relationships
New data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study found that money is the No. 1 cause of stress among Americans, according to 44 percent of survey respondents. Money is more of a problem than either personal relationships (25 percent) or work (18 percent).
There is a saying that goes “you can’t change what you can’t measure” or something like that.
To deal with your niggling doubts you need to see where your finances are at. Now, at this point in time.
The best way to do this is by figuring out your net worth. Listing out everything you OWN vs everything you OWE.
This will give you a really clear picture on what your financial health looks like.
Even if the overall picture ain’t good, at least you know and can make a plan to deal with it.
All the time that you spend not knowing, is time you spend not taking action. So the worry never goes away.
When we don’t track what we spend, money just seems to disappear into a black hole.
It’s easy to just keep spending without really considering why we spend so much or what we spend it on.
Tracking your spending for a few months is the number one way to take responsibilty for your spending.
I personally use a spreadsheet I have built but you could use an app like Personal Capital or Mint to categorise your spending.
If you want to find out more about tracking your spending you can have a read of my blog post which goes into more detail:
When you have it there in black and white, it’s pretty damn obvious where your money is going. Dining out four times a week, buying fancy stuff for the house, overpriced gym membership you never use.
With the information in front of you, you can decide to take responsibility. Maybe you’ll decide to only eat out one a month, or cancel the gym membership and use free YouTube videos.
Whatever it is, you’ll be taking responsibility and take action. This will increase your confidence as you make conscious decisions about how, when and why you spend.
Managing your money can have a positive effect on your health too.
As we spoke about earlier in the post, tracking your spending will highlight areas of spending which hamper your attempts to eat healthier or exercise more.
$400 on eating out and an unused gym membership are pretty obvious reasons why you can’t shift that extra 7lbs.
When you are managing your money, you can make conscious decisions to save money and get healthier.
A great way to save money and lose weight is to plan meals properly, in advance. A weekly or monthly meal plan stops the emergency pizza purchase or buying lunches at work.
Looking after your health is a key component of self-care, use your money to help your quest for a healthier lifestyle, not hinder it.
You’re coasting along nicely, spend all of your money each month when WHAM something happens that you didn’t anticipate.
Any of these things can cause extreme stress and worry if you haven’t planned for them. If, on the other have you have an emergency fund, you can just use the money from there and carry on as usual.
Building an emergency fund is a fantastic way to look after yourself as you are smoothing the road for any bumps the future you might encounter.
Although the word ‘budget’ doesn’t exactly strike joy into most people’s hearts, the great thing about tracking your spending and making a budget is that you know where every dollar/pound goes.
Once you have taken care of necessary expenses and allocated money to savings, you can use some of your hard-earned cash for whatever you want.
Self-care isn’t just about health and relaxation, it’s also about not feeling guilty about enjoying yourself.
If you know that you are in control of every dollar/pound, there won’t be any guilt attached when you do spend money purely on fun.
“Knowledge itself is power” – Sir Francis Bacon
Or, in the slightly more contemporary words of another well-known wordsmith…..
“If you don’t know, now you know” – Notorious B.I.G
Before you decide to sort out your finances, you might feel daunted and overwhelmed because you don’t know how to do it.
Do you start with a spreadsheet? What if you don’t like excel? Do you need an app? Is the stock market risky? Where should I invest?
The thing is, you can get the answers to all of your questions. Just make a list of them all and start googling them one by one.
There is so much information out there, and everyone is different. I love spreadsheets to track my spending, you might love an app.
Just start building up your knowledge and over time, as you learn more and make more decisions, it won’t seem so daunting anymore.
You will feel more in control of your money and stress levels will decrease nicely.
I have written a post about best podcasts, books and blogs below, the post focuses on financial independence (having enough money invested to retire very very early) but the money principles are the same.
Self-care isn’t just about ourselves, it’s also about considering the needs of our loved ones.
If you have kids, some of your stress and worry may come from wondering whether they will be okay in school, will they want to go to university, will they get a job?
If you get control of your finances, not only will you be able to start securing their future, you will also be teaching them the right way to use money.
If they know how to manage their money by the time they strike out on their own, they’ll be streets ahead of most of their friends.
Money can be such a huge cause of stress, finally getting in control of it can be a big weight off your shoulders.
Instead of all that mental energy being spent worrying about the future, you can use your time to do other things you love instead.
And that sounds like a great form of self-care to me!