Money is something that I loove talking about. Seriously, I could talk about money as much as I talk about self-care and mental health. I even went back to school to get certified as a financial educator (for no reason, other than that I wanted to). My next goal is to become a certified financial social worker (coming soon!).
But enough about me, you came here to learn about self-care and money. We’re going to talk about how to take care of yourself financially.
Taking care of yourself and your money go hand in hand. I’ve talked to countless people in my full-time job where their crisis somehow directly or indirectly relates to money.
So lack of financial self-care is a REAL problem that causes people a lot of pain. Financial self-care doesn’t mean making more money. It is about:
- Making your money work better for you
- Making sure that your money ISN’T causing you additional stress
- Understanding your mindset around money
It is important to note that as a social worker, I absolutely understand how capitalism, racism, sexism and other -isms can and do affect money. That is a topic for another day. This post is about what you can reasonably control right now.
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What Is Financial Self-Care?
Financial self-care, put simply, is making sure that your money is working for you and not against you. Like any act of self-care, you should always be intentional about what you’re doing.
Additionally, as I will stress throughout this entire post, self-care is personal. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
A example is that I absolutely cannot use cash. To me, having cash is like having “extra money”. If the cash is not in my bank account, it doesn’t seem “real” to me. So I very rarely use cash and don’t factor it into my budget.
This is something that I need to work on in regards to my own money mindset. We’ll talk about that too!
Why Practice Financial Self-Care?
Do you have to pay attention to your money? Not necessarily. Your money will do what it will do without you paying it any mind.
BUT, if you want to be more aware of your spending habits, earn more money, and save more money so you can reach your goals, you should be practicing it.
Financial Self-Care In 9 Easy Steps
These self-care ideas will definitely not break the bank. They’re going to help you keep more of your money in the bank AND understand how to use it to your advantage.
Step One: Go On A Money Date
Going on a money date is just to understand what your financial picture is right now. You do not need to create a budget. You don’t need to start canceling your streaming accounts.
No judgements. It is what it is.
Here are some tips for having your money date:
- Schedule this date for a time you’ll be uninterrupted
- Bring all of your financial documents “to the table”
- If you’re in a relationship, invite your partner(s)
- Have this date in a place where you feel comfortable
- Make it enjoyable! Bring your favorite drink, snacks, or anything else that helps you relax
If you can, schedule regular money dates so that you are always on top of your financial life.
Step Two: Take Inventory of Your Money Mindset
We all have a money mindset that permeates everything that we do. Seriously, everything! From the car that we drive to how much money we spend during the holidays.
Ready to uncover your money mindset? Think of this as your financial self-help or financial therapy session. Grab a pen, paper, and get ready to dig in.
You may want to take a separate “money date” to answer these questions about your money mindset.
- What are phrases or beliefs that come to mind when you think about money?
- Where do you think these beliefs come from?
- Growing up, what did your family say (or not say) about money?
- What would you like your money mindset to be?
- What’s your first step to get to your ideal money mindset?
Step Three: Do a No Spend Week (or Month)
To really understand your money mindset, you may want to see try a no spend week or month. I especially love no spend weeks or no spend months because they help me “reset”.
Doing this challenge is pretty simple. The only items you’re allowed to spend money on are essentials. So things like putting gas in your car to get to work, utilities such as electricity or water, or rent are totally okay to spend money on.
You DON’T want to spend money on any “extras”. I recently took part in a no-spend challenge/reset put on by the folks at You Need a Budget. While I don’t use You Need a Budget, I highly recommend them!
You may come to realize the things that you were spending your money on weren’t actually making you happier, better, etc.
Step Four: Evaluate Your Needs and Wants
After doing a no spend week or month, you’ll probably have a better idea of what you need and what you want. This is where you’ll be starting to add some things to your budget or take them out. Setting your budget is step five, but in step four, you want to actually think about what you need and what you want.
Think of your needs as the things that help keep you alive and safe. Other needs may be obligations like paying loans or child support. These things might include:
- Health costs like doctor visits and medication
- Utilities like gas, electricity, water, trash removal, etc
Wants may include:
- Fast Food/Restaurants
- Subscriptions like Netflix, Spotify, or Amazon Prime
Only you know know what your needs and wants really are.
Step Five: Set Your Budget(s)
There are many ways that you can create a budget. The best way is to do it in a way that is easy and makes sense for you.
My favorite way to budget and track my budget is to use budget apps like Mint or You Need a Budget. They easily allow you to track your budget(s), track your spending, and see where you have leaks in your budget.
To create your budget, take all of your needs first and set the goal that you have for them. For example, if your rent is $900 your budget for housing will be $900.
Keep going until you have all your needs categorized. For needs that may change from month to month, like utilities, take the average of the last 12 months and set that as your budget for utilities.
Begin adding in your wants as they fit within your income. If your budget is going over your income, you may need to adjust your budgets (or increase your income).
You might find that you need to adjust your budget every 6 months to a year depending on your financial circumstances.
Step Six: Set Financial Goals
Setting financial goals is a huge part of financial self-care. We all have things that we want to achieve in life, and many of these things include aspects of our finances.
Your financial goals can be anything you want them to be, but I would caution you against making goals that are too vague. While “saving money” is a goal, what does it actually mean? How are you going to do it?
Your financial goals should be SMART goals. Meaning that there are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
An example of a SMART goal for your finances is:
I am going to save $20k for a house down payment by October 2022 (this is actually one of my goals).
Step Seven: Grow Your Money
Now that you’ve gotten rid of some of the extra spending that you might have been doing and set your budget, it is time to think about how to grow your money.
You can grow your money in multiple ways. One way to do this is to increase your income. This isn’t a post about ways to make money but here are a few ideas that I’ve actually used:
- Doing Surveys – This isn’t going to increase your income by very much BUT earning a bit extra is helpful and I’ve been doing surveys since I was in high school. My favorite (legit) survey sites are SurveySavvy and Valued Opinions.
- Blogging – it is not the immediate cash cow that many online will lead you to believe. It can take months to earn money by blogging but when you do, it can be a decently passive amount of income. Here’s my post about starting a blog.
- Getting a part-time job – Getting a part-time job is one of the classic ways to make money. For the majority of my life, I’ve had both a full-time and part-time job so I could save more money. Do not do this if you feel like it will make you burn out.
- Food Delivery – I delivered for DoorDash for a couple of months with my mom to pay for Christmas presents. It was actually pretty fun. I liked seeing new areas of my city and learning about new restaurants. I actually went to a couple of the restaurants that I learned about while I was delivering food. The best part about doing gig work is that you can do it when you want.
Step Eight: Continue Your Learning
There are so many topics to learn about within this realm like investing, retirement, and. Not only are there a lot of topics to learn about, but many ways to learn them.
Some of my favorite ways to increase my learning about financial self-care are:
- Books (Your Money or Your Life and Broke Millennial are my favorites)
- YouTube Channels (Financial Diet and One Big Happy Life)
- Blogs (Clever Girl Finance and The Simple Dollar)
Step Nine: Rinse & Repeat
Financial self-care is a life-long process and something that you’ll never stop learning about. There are going to be times when you repeat this process step by step or times that you’ll only need one or two sections.
If all of this financial self-care stuff feels a bit overwhelming, that’s totally okay! Feel free to bookmark this page and come back to it when you’re ready to work on each step. Get more ideas on how to practice self-care on a budget here.
Your relationship with money is important and you CAN improve it!
Briana Hollis is a licensed social worker and self-care coach. She earned her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 and her Master of Education from Tiffin University in 2019. She has spent the last 5 years working in crisis intervention. Her passion for serving others is the heart of this site. She started Learning To Be Free to assist others in bringing freedom to their lives.
Briana is also the author of The Self-Care Journal for Young Adults.