Self-care comes in a variety of forms. Some people work out every morning or stick to a regimented diet. Maybe you make it a point to read a certain number of books or articles each month. Regardless of how you might maintain your physical or mental well-being, there is one form of self-care you might be neglecting: your financial well-being.
Whether you’re trying to set new financial goals, get better at saving, or get yourself out of debt, taking the time to nurture your financial health can be just as important as taking care of your body and mind. Here are four simple introductory steps to get yourself started on a financial self-care routine.
Check your accounts regularly
When I was a starving student, it was often easier to bury my head in the sand than face looking at the contents of my checking account (a savings account wouldn’t come until years later).
While it might seem like it could be more stressful than therapeutic to open your bank app and find a less-than-desirable number staring you in the face, one of the first steps you can take on your financial self-care journey is keeping close tabs on how much money you have access to at any given time. Make it a habit to check your various bank accounts and credit card balances daily, or at the very least weekly. This process will not only help you get a better grip on how much wiggle room you have to work with in respect to your finances, but it can also help you monitor for fraud.
Closely track your income and expenses
Most of us know roughly how much money is coming in and out of our accounts each month. The paychecks come in weekly (or bi-weekly) and leave at the beginning of the month in the form of rent, groceries, and electric bills. Get in the habit of examining where exactly your money goes each month. You might find that you’re spending a little bit too much on takeout, or that you’re paying for streaming services that you don’t even use. By closely monitoring your spending and creating a strict budget, you’ll be better suited to outlining and sticking to a financial plan.
Get out of debt
Self-care is all about comfort, and what’s more comforting than relieving yourself of the burden of looming debt? Much like checking your bank accounts, it can sometimes feel easier to just ignore debt, make the minimum monthly payment, and hope that it eventually goes away on its own.
Do yourself a huge favor and prioritize eliminating your debt to cultivate a better relationship between yourself and your finances. Consider consolidating your debt to tackle it in an organized and simplified manner. You can also use some of that extra cash you might have managed to scrape together with your newfound budgeting skills to pay more than your required monthly minimum to expedite this process.
Setting realistic short-term goals can motivate you and help you adhere to a budget. In the early stages of financial planning, you’ll want to start small, like:
- pay off $10,000 of your student loans
- save $10,000 by the end of the year
- eliminate your remaining credit card debt before the next quarter.
Ensure that your goals are specific and achievable within the foreseeable future. By outlining a specific time frame and number for each of these goals, you’ll be able to track your progress in real time.