Your self-care routine may currently look like curling up on the couch, after a long day of work, with a soothing scented candle on the side, a hearty cup of tea in one hand and a hilarious self-help book in the other. It could also involve a checklist of good habits you’re trying to incorporate into your daily routine, like not checking your phone right after you wake up or focusing on the rich flavours of the food you’re eating. What we tend to overlook when it comes to wellness is financial self-care – although we are well-aware of the stress and anxiety that stems from our finances.
Wellness focuses on our overall health and wellbeing, and that definitely includes our financial health. Having a financial self-care routine will not only benefit our finances, but it will also contribute to our happiness and overall wellbeing. After all, real self-care helps us reframe the situations we’re in to get to the root of our problems. It goes beyond feeling comfortable and digs deeper into healing in order to feel better afterwards.
It can be intimidating, and even embarrassing to confront our own finances, but by adding these good money habits to your self-care routines and checklists, you’ll be able to develop a better understanding of your finances and a healthier money mindset:
- Confront your feelings about money
Write down the first few things that come to mind when you think about your finances. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do – it could come from a childhood experience, having student loan debt or recently seeing others lose their jobs. These fears can prevent us from taking control of our finances, so once you’re able to understand your limiting beliefs – you’ll know how to move forward and start organizing your finances.
- Check your bank accounts
Make it a habit to check your bank accounts often. Not being aware of where your money goes can cause a lot of frustration. By physically seeing your bank balance, and keeping track of your transactions, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions when it comes to spending. This habit will also allow you to catch any unusual transactions or unauthorized purchases before it’s too late.
- Set and review your financial goals
We all have financial goals. What do you aim to do with your money? You could want to repair one of your devices, pay off credit card debt, or save for a car. Note down these goals and break them into smaller steps that can be achieved daily or weekly – i.e. saving RM50 a week for 6 months. By constantly reviewing your progress, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re on the right track and be aware of any obstacles that could set you back.
- Practice mindful spending
Set boundaries when it comes to your money. With shopping being just an app away, it’s become much easier to spend money – ‘retail therapy’ now consists of browsing when we’re sad or happy. Either delete the apps or add the items to your wishlist (instead of your cart) and sleep on it. As with any impulse, see if you still want it badly the next day or in the following days.
- Reward yourself
We’re not saying you shouldn’t spend any money at all, you should always treat yourself – responsibly that is. Reward yourself for reaching your financial goals, but make sure you’ve made space in your budget for treats. This can motivate you to save more. Remember, wellness is all about balance – don’t feel bad about tending to your differing needs.
- Educate yourself
Unfortunately, since we didn’t learn financial literacy in school, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves. Most of us are actually clueless about money, not even receiving honest advice from our parents because it is a taboo topic. Make the effort to read, join free courses, and listen to podcasts – no, not to ‘get rich’, but to get a better understanding of how to manage your finances.
The longer we ignore our limiting money mindset and beliefs, the harder it’ll be for us to become financially stable, secure or free. You can avoid further stress and anxiety by finally stepping up and taking control of your finances.
Payday reminds us that it was worth it – waking up early, dealing with clients, rushing to meet deadlines, getting stuck in rush hour traffic. It has us wanting to celebrate our hard work with an extravagant night out or escape the stress with a relaxing getaway.
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional splurge and enjoying an indulgence that costs more than we’re used to, but when it happens too often – it can be harmful for our financial health. Especially during a global pandemic, financial planning has become crucial to our wellbeing. It requires us to be more mindful of our spending to support our financial goals.
Like we’ve mentioned before, self-care doesn’t only mean adding expensive cosmetics to your cart or booking a massage at a 5-star hotel – you can get the same satisfaction from simpler things like cooking with your partner or going for a hike with your friends. There are many ways to treat yourself after a long month of work, here are a few that won’t bust your budget:
Instead of buying new clothes, put on an episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and get inspired to clean out your closet. Find joy in decluttering the rest of your home – donating or recycling the items you’ve chosen to part with it. You’ll feel satisfied and fulfilled, and have a serene space to unwind in.
With the amount of beautiful islands we have in Malaysia, it is tempting to take a trip out to paradise – but with the rising cases of coronavirus (and this unpleasant weather), it might be better to put plane rides on pause and dedicate a day to unplug and go outdoors. Catch some rays down by the pool or go hiking with your friends, you can get in touch with nature closer to home.
Working out is an important part of self-care, but there are more affordable alternatives if you’re worried about breaking the bank. Get your heart rate up by going for a run around the neighbourhood or following one of the many free workout videos available online. Dancing in your bedroom also counts!
We always want to spoil our loved ones, but it’s the most simple moments that often become priceless memories. Switch it up by cooking your partner a romantic meal or having them join you in the kitchen as a sous-chef. If you want a change of scenery, pack a lunch basket and head out for a picnic where you two can get some fresh air together.
Learn more about financial wellness here.
Wellness is more than skin deep
One of the biggest myths about self-care is that it’s a luxury. Don’t believe the hype. Wellness has been promoted as lavish spa treatments, expensive facial creams and exotic vacations, when in reality, it’s mundane activities like allowing yourself to sleep in on the weekends and unfollowing social media accounts that make you feel bad. Sure it can be pretty pricey to pay for a therapist, sign up for a gym and stock up on healthy food, but financial wellness isn’t how much you spend on wellness – it’s about the wellbeing of your finances.
It’s hard to feel good when your finances aren’t looking good. The stress can even take a toll on your health and unfortunately, some financial situations might make it hard to get help. Don’t beat yourself up when it comes to things you can’t control, but by being more diligent about money management and mindfully spending within your means – you’ll be able to improve your financial health and prepare for a rainy day or emergencies. This is especially the case in today’s climate as we face the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn to plan better
- Being aware of what you have can truly empower you. Knowing how much money you have in your bank account can help you better manage what goes towards your expenses, such as bills, spend (your wants and desires) and savings – this can ultimately help you monitor your finances and identify how to improve it.
- Decide what your goal targets are for each category and stick to it – it’s better to be realistic in your targets, than idealistic, to make it more achievable.
- Create a yearly budget to track your expenses – there are a lot of tools that can help you with that, which we’ll share in future stories.
Contribute meaningfully to others
Once you have yourself and your family covered, it would be great to consider the community and those in need. You can allocate some of your finances for meaningful contributions (one-off or monthly) to charitable causes that you believe in – whether it’s geared to help those who are underprivileged, raise environmental awareness, find a cure or encourage the advancement of creative industries. The opportunities are plentiful and the choice is yours – go for a cause that reflects your passion and champion it! As Sam Smith’s Money On My Mind goes, “do it for the love – of yourself and others”.