You've probably heard the term self-care — actions that help relieve stress and boost our well-being. Self-care can come in the form of exercising, journaling, eating healthy meals, spending time in nature or even taking a relaxing bubble bath!
Did you know that financial wellness can also be a type of self-care? It's true!
Money is a top source of stress for many people. So, it's easy to understand why people sometimes feel overwhelmed by budgeting and setting financial goals.
However, understanding and organizing your finances is empowering. Taking an active role in money management can actually help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
Try some adding some of these money management practices to your self-care routine:
#1: Get to know your spending habits
To get a clear picture of your finances, it's important to track your spending. Set aside some time once a week to review your weekly purchases. Feel free to make it fun! Get comfortable, play some music and grab a snack. As you look through your online accounts or paper account statements, organize your spending into categories. Examples include rent and utilities, groceries, dining out and gas. Wright-Patt Credit Union's (WPCU) free Money Management tool makes it easy to review your spending from multiple accounts. It even separates your spending into categories automatically so you can save time.
Next, add up the totals in each category and look for patterns and trends. Do any numbers surprise you? Take note of the extra expenses you'd like to eliminate or cut back on. This activity isn't meant to make you feel guilty about your spending habits. The point is to know exactly where your money is going so you can see where to make changes.
#2: Create and follow a budget
Learning how to budget is one of the best self-care habits you can adopt! Budgeting isn't about limiting your freedom. It's all about being intentional with your money — matching your income with your expenses and goals. Think of your budget as a spending plan that gives you more freedom and control over your finances.
Here are some tips to remember when budgeting:
- Find a method that works for you. Pen and paper, pre-made budgeting worksheets or spreadsheets or smartphone apps are all good options. If you prefer going digital, try using Money Management to create and manage your budget.
- Expect the unexpected. Financial emergencies happen. Include saving for an emergency fund in your budget. Aim for a starter emergency fund of $1,000, then work your way up to saving 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses.
- Revisit your budget regularly. Every month is different, so sure you're reviewing your plan and making any updates to your income and expenses.
- Leave room for fun. Reward your positive money moves with the occasional treat or just-for-fun purchase!
#3: Set goals that excite you
Having goals that motivate you and inspire you will help you keep up the practice of financial self-care. Write down your top financial goals. Examples may include:
- Building your emergency fund
- Making a dent in debt
- Buying a home or vehicle
- Saving for a vacation or special occasion
- Starting and growing your retirement fund
- Saving for a child's college education
Keep your goals where you can see them. Some people like to create vision boards with photos and magazine cut-outs to visualize their goals. Another idea is to put sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, near your desk or in your car. Knowing your goals will give you focus and help you stay on track!
Financial self-care doesn't happen overnight — it's an ongoing process! Just like other types of self-care like exercising, healthy eating or journaling, taking care of your finances will get easier the more you do it.
Wright-Patt Credit Union is here to help you on your journey to achieving greater financial flexibility and freedom! Learn a lot about your finances with our helpful resources, including education webinars you can attend from the comfort of your home or office.