Self-care isn’t all candle-lit bubble baths and foaming face masks. Those things definitely fall into the self-care category — and are, some would argue, crucially important — but there are many ways to practice self-care, including with your wallet.
According to a new survey from CreditWise, released by Capital One, 73% of Americans rank their finances as their No. 1 stressor.
Even if you’re among the small percentage of people whose finances aren’t their top worry, you probably still feel stress around money. Let’s face it — money is stressful. You need it to do almost anything, so the idea of not having enough is scary, and it’s a reality that many people need to work around.
However, there are actions you can take to greatly reduce this stress. Read on for seven ways to practice financial self-care.
Get Clear on Your Financial Situation
If you’re in the habit of burying your head in the sand when it comes to your finances, you’re not doing yourself any favors. You need to get a clear idea of what you’re working with, including any assets — houses, stocks, bank accounts — and any debts owed, such as a mortgage or student loans. These all come together to form your financial picture, and writing this down somewhere will take away the stress of not knowing.
Set Financial Goals
Think about what stresses you out the most when it comes to your money. Is it debt? Living paycheck to paycheck? Overspending on things you don’t need, and seeing it reflected on your credit card statement the next day?
When you’re coming up with financial goals, you should look at how you can eliminate this stress. The goals should be both realistic and specific. For example, if you want to save more money and stop living paycheck to paycheck, you could set a goal to automate $25 going into your savings account each time you receive a paycheck. If you receive direct deposits, this should be an easy step that you can set and forget through your banking app.
Prioritize Your Debt
However, if you have financial stress surrounding debt, you should probably prioritize this over other needs, including saving money. Most debt accrues interest, meaning the longer you take to pay it, the more you’ll owe. If you owe multiple debts, you should begin by paying off the one with the highest interest rate, which often turns out to be credit card debt. So, instead of setting $25 aside to save, put that toward paying off your debt faster.
Make a Budget
A simple but effective way of reducing financial stress is by creating a budget. It helps you stay organized with all your incoming and outgoing money, including necessary bills and frivolous spending. If you can afford it, frivolous spending isn’t actually a bad thing — just something to moderate.
Setting a budget and actually sticking to a budget are two separate things. But you can use financial management apps like Mint to help you stay on track. Try to allocate a certain amount toward your debts, essential bills and savings, and leave any leftover for you to use as you please.
Check Your Bank Accounts Regularly
Although banking apps do help you “set and forget” certain actions, like automated savings, you should still check your accounts on a consistent basis — especially if you know you’ve gone off budget. This will help you readjust your budget so you can be sure you still have enough money for bills and other important purchases.
Even though looking at your account balances can cause feelings of stress, having a strict budget should help alleviate this, and is always better than not knowing and spending blindly.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Overspend
It’s going to happen. Maybe it was a cute jacket in the corner store or a pair of concert tickets you got on discount. Whatever it is, we all have those open-wallet moments that we often live to regret later. The important thing to remember is that, short of blowing all your savings at the casino, you probably didn’t make too big of a mistake; and you can always do better the next time around. After all, the money you earned is meant to be enjoyed, to an extent.
Learn More About Money
The best way to de-stress your financial life is to learn more about money. Whether that’s saving strategies, starting a business or real estate investing — it’s up to you. But knowledge is power, and empowering yourself through financial literacy is likely to push you to make better decisions with your money.
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