Money is a major cause of stress. You might be worried about not having enough money, not managing it well, not saving enough, or losing it in bad investments. It might seem that you’re always thinking and worrying about money. This is why you need a financial self-care routine.
When we think about self-care, most of us thing about getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising, relaxing and building healthy relationships. But one aspect of self-care is often overlooked: financial self-care.
When you neglect your physical, emotional and mental health, your stress levels are likely to skyrocket. Your immune system weakens, you have trouble sleeping, your mood tanks, and your relationships begin to fray.
All these can snowball into larger problems and even life-threatening health conditions.
It’s no different when it comes to neglecting financial self-care. Not having a regular financial self-care routine can lead to overspending, failed investments, and increased debt – all these factors contribute to heightened emotional and mental stress.
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A survey by Lending Club found that people with credit card debt are more likely to experience social isolation and general dissatisfaction with their lives.
But when you practice regular financial self-care, things start to shift. Financial self-care supports a healthy money mindset. Knowing that you’ve a good handle on your financial well-being can boost your mood and general outlook. You are likely to feel empowered to create a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Keep tabs on daily expenditure
The first step in a financial self-care is keeping tabs on your daily expenses. Many people are prone to impulse shopping and spending money without a plan. When you don’t have a clear picture of where your money is going, you might have a harder time creating and sticking to a monthly budget.
To track your expenses accurately, you can use one of the many expense tracking apps available for both iPhone and Android phones. You can also use a simple spreadsheet or jot down notes with a pen or pencil.
The idea is to always have a good look at where every shilling is going. This puts you in better control of your financial well-being. It also shows you which expenses are unnecessarily high so you can cut back – this means more money for savings and investments.
Make it your goal to save at least 10 per cent of your income every month, year after year. This will give you confidence that you’re living within your means. It also makes it easier to achieve your long-term financial goals such as saving for education, buying a home and going on dream vacations.
Note: Set 10 minutes per week or half an hour monthly to review bill due dates and payments. This will help you avoid late payment fees and keep your life running smoothly. Where possible, automate payments from your account.
Create and review your goals
Having clear financial goals is key to having the motivation to stick to healthy money habits. When your goals make you feel that you’re working towards something important, such as building a home, the more likely you’re to avoid frivolous expenses that make it harder to attain the goal.
At least once a year, sit down with pen and paper and write down your financial goals. Then you can break these goals into monthly financial goals, which gives you a timeline to achieve each goal. If you don’t know how to create a financial plan by yourself, a good financial advisor will come in handy.
Armed with a good financial plan, you will be in a better position to make adjustments to achieve your financial goals. This means you won’t have to worry and stress unnecessarily about how and when to make certain financial decisions.
Note: Set five to 10 minutes per week to check your progress on monthly financial goals.
Set firm boundaries
Many adults, especially in developing countries like Kenya, find themselves giving out a considerable chunk of their earnings to friends and relatives. This money is usually to help them cover essential expenses such as medical care, food and rent.
But while helping others financially is commendable, it can put a huge strain on your financial well-being and make it harder to attain financial goals. If you’re overly generous, it is also easy for others to take advantage of you financially.
It is, therefore, important to have firm financial boundaries. This might mean having tough conversations with your friends and relatives about what you can afford to give to them or flat out saying no to their requests when you can’t afford to give away money.
For example, you can say, “I can help you pay for this, but not for that,” or “I can help you pay with rent for three months but no longer”. Giving a clear timeline and setting clear expectations will help give the other a push to find more sustainable solutions for themselves.
Note: Look at the money you give out to friends and family as a gift, not a loan. This way, the relationship won’t suffer when the person fails to pay back. You can have a small amount of money in your budget earmarked for miscellaneous expenses and helping out your loved ones.
Ask for help when needed
Although we learn some financial skills in school, most people realise they are poorly equipped to handle the complexities of managing their finances properly. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it.
Although a professional financial advisor is the best person to go to, their services don’t come cheap. If you can’t afford to hire a financial advisor, you can ask a friend or a family member for help.
Make sure that the person you’re asking has a better understanding of the specific aspect of finances you want help in. For example, a family member who is good at investing their own money can give you solid tips on investing.
Note: Before hiring a financial advisor, make sure that they’re fiduciary and are prioritising your best interests.