Now, more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves and our wellbeing. For frontline NHS employees there are some great apps that help you practice mindfulness and look after your mental health.
But wellbeing and self-care can extend far beyond our own mental and physical health. Financial self-care can be critical to helping you stay on top of your finances, manage your debt and help to reduce one of the biggest stress factors in our daily lives.
But what is financial self-care and how can we cultivate good financial habits? Read on to find out how just thirty minutes a week can help you take control of your finances and cultivate good self-care habits that last.
What is financial self care?
Just like looking after your own physical and mental wellbeing, financial self-care is all about cultivating the kind of good habits that help you achieve your financial goals.
Whether you want to save money, budget smarter or manage your debts, financial self-care is a way of taking control. And by prioritising good money management and building financial self-care into your routines, your wellbeing will also improve.
The key to creating good habits is to identify the triggers and the rewards. So if you’d rather binge Netflix than think about your finances, try doing your weekly budget before you turn on the TV. It might seem counterintuitive, but you’ll start to build good habits around taking control of your finances that can help you relax and sleep better at night.
Why it matters
Being under stress day after day can have a serious impact on your mental, physical and emotional health. It can lead to depression, insomnia, anxiety and frequent headaches. As the stress builds up, relationships suffer, your blood pressure builds and your immune system weakens - leaving you vulnerable to infection.
Financial stress is no different. It can leave you feeling anxious and depressed, tossing and turning at night over the thought of those unpaid bills. It’s easy to become trapped in a downward spiral when money worries take hold.
If you want to turn things around and develop healthy financial habits and a positive money mindset, you need to start taking care of your financial wellbeing. Being in control will help you feel more empowered and fulfilled.
How to set up a financial self-care routine
Setting up your financial self-care routine can be as easy as talking openly about your financial issues instead of keeping them bottled up inside. These simple tips should help you start making good habits that boost your financial and mental wellbeing.
The good news is that in just 30 minutes a week you can start to have a positive impact on your financial wellbeing. You can either split the half hour into smaller tasks or spend the entire thirty minutes on one task.
However you choose to set up your financial self-care routine, you’ll start to notice results, fast. Here’s how to start.
Check your bank balance regularly
Checking your bank balance daily takes less than ten minutes of your time but it’s the best way to track your spending and spot any irregularities or fraudulent transactions. According to research, just 1 in 5 of us check our accounts daily and 4% never check them at all.
Using phone or online banking makes this a quick and easy task and most banks also have an app so you can check from your mobile. Instead of browsing WhatsApp every time you use your phone, take a few minutes to log onto your account and scan your debits and balances to make sure everything’s healthy.
Create financial goals
Creating financial goals is key to successful financial self-care. Goals that inspire you are a great way to stay motivated so you’re more likely to stay committed to saving for that dream holiday.
Take 10 minutes to write down your short and long term financial goals. Be specific about what they are and how you’re going to achieve them. According to neuroscience research, we’re up to 1.4 times more likely to attain a goal that we’ve written down.
Whether you’re aiming to pay off a student loan, get a downpayment on a property or just save for a rainy day, make sure your goals are specific and achievable within a specific timeframe. So instead of aiming to pay off that student debt one day, aim to do it over the next five years and take a few minutes a week to measure your progress.
Keep tabs on income and regular expenditures
Making a monthly inventory of your finances doesn’t take long but it can play a central role in your financial self-care planning.
This is also the best way to get hands-on with your money and really take control of your finances.There are websites and apps that can help you keep tabs on your income and regular expenditure but here’s how to get started:
Include every source of income and keep track of every source of spending right down to your daily coffee. A sandwich every lunchtime can add up to a significant amount over the month so reduce your outgoings by taking a cheaper and healthier homemade lunch a few times a week.
List all your debts, including money owed to family and friends and make a note of payment dates.
Identify your spending habits and triggers so you can start to eliminate impulse spending - try finding a healthier alternative to retail therapy that is better for your financial and physical wellbeing.
Above all, don’t be hard on yourself. At times like these it can be hard not to let your spending get out of control. Don’t punish yourself, start taking control of your money and find ways to get back on track.
Use your thirty minutes to create a budget that acts as a solid foundation for your financial future.
Make sure you include all your expenses including travel, utilities, rent or mortgage and groceries. Don’t forget to factor in additional one-off expenses like annual insurance premiums or car servicing if they’re due.
Try and automate your payments with direct debits and look at paying monthly rather than annually for bigger bills like Council Tax.
If your budget is always tight, prioritise your spending so that you know the important bills are covered. If that means you’re having trouble paying credit cards or other debts, contact the lender to see whether you can arrange a payment holiday or a different repayment plan.
Make sure you review your budget every month and identify areas where you can make savings. This can be easier if you’ve set yourself some motivational goals to save up for a family holiday or other treats.
Only borrow when you can afford to
Taking out a loan can impact your credit score so you should only borrow when you can afford to. Make sure you read the small print and understand exactly what you’ll be paying back, including whether they charge early repayment fees.
Once you’ve agreed to take out a loan, make sure you keep making timely repayments - set a reminder on your phone or set up a direct debit, then take a few minutes each month to make the payment or check if it's gone through.
Taking out a responsible loan from Salad Money means there’s no impact on your credit score. That’s because we use open banking to check your current financial situation, not what happened in the past.
When life gets stressful it’s easy to focus on the negatives. With solid financial self-care and good stress management you can stay in the moment and boost your mood, knowing you’re mindful and in control of your money.