Over the last decade, you’ve likely heard more about the importance of self-care or ways you can proactively take care of yourself to reduce stress and burnout. Because finances and money can be a top source of stress for so many people, there is an opportunity to view and manage financial stress with self-care, like you address other stressors in your life. In this post, we’ll dive into steps you can take to create and sustain financial self care in your life.
Complete an inventory
Getting a grasp on your finances begins with identifying what is working well and what areas need attention. This practice can help you recognize areas of strength and resources as well as vulnerabilities that should be addressed through budgeting and planning. To complete an inventory, write down all the aspects of finances in your life, including regular spending, savings goals, financial priorities, outstanding debts, and more. Getting an honest, truthful, and objective perspective by working with a financial professional can also reduce your financial stress.
Create a budget
If you don’t control your money, it will control you. Giving your money boundaries strengthens your relationship with money and will help you make financial decisions that are aligned with your values. Spend time analyzing the emotional or physical value you receive for each budget item and if it should be adjusted. When you consider the “value” of something, align it with its importance, worth, or usefulness in your life. Also, ask yourself how your values may have changed post-divorce and make sure you aren’t automatically assigning a value that was expected in your marriage. As you reflect on your values, you may find that you are pouring too many resources into an area that isn’t providing the appropriate level of fulfillment in return for what is given. For example, your mortgage payment is likely your highest expense and perhaps you don’t get all that much joy and satisfaction out of a home that provides far more space than you need. Maybe cleaning the large space produces additional stress that you don’t welcome in your life. It might be time to consider downsizing or even renting out some of your home on short-term sites like Airbnb. In other examples, maybe you’re eating out too much, spending too much on gifts, or paying for cable television that you know longer use.
Next, use your inventory, which details both your resources and needs, to move items around in your budget so that it aligns with your financial vision and plans. For example, if you have family or friends who are willing to help watch your kids, you may be able to work more hours or engage in a side hustle.
Lastly, create a cushion in your budget. Think of your financial cushion as your best friend. The best friend that always has your back in tough times. Life is nearly impossible without those relationships that help hold you up during storms. Recognize that emergencies happen, and you may even want to splurge on a trip or an item. At any time, a family member might need financial help. Reduce stress about money by creating this financial buffer and fostering this critical financial component into your life. Give yourself the gift of space, grace, and compassion around money, just like you give yourself this emotionally.
Include self love
Alongside taking responsibility for your financial success, plan enjoyable and fulfilling experiences or purchases that bring you joy and align with your values. Most individuals find more fulfillment in experiences post-divorce and this is a great time to invest in new hobbies and interests, which will also support your post-divorce healing. Maybe you have wanted to start skiing again or learn to knit. Perhaps joining a travel group will make it easier for you to continue traveling post-divorce. Prioritize activities such as going out with friends, shopping (thrift stores work great if you are on a tight budget), reading books, attending a college sports game, getting your nails done, or doing your nails together with a friend.
Don’t neglect planning for your future
While it is important to be a present-moment warrior, balance is crucial and necessary. One day, retirement will be your present moment. Budget and plan for the retirement life you want. Detail this vision in your inventory and use your budget to make your ideal retirement possible by investing now for tomorrow. Work closely with a financial professional to ensure you are saving and investing appropriately while getting any tax benefits available to you through detailed retirement planning.
If you haven’t planned your financial life in advance, or don’t fully understand the resources available to you, you can lose sight of what’s possible. It is easy to get overwhelmed with life and try to remedy your feelings in the moment by buying things you don’t need instead of sticking to initial, thoughtful budgets and plans. This can be especially dangerous during a big transition such as a divorce where it’s common to purchase things emotionally or even get stuck in bad spending patterns.
Whether you are just starting the process of building regular financial self-care into your life, or have been building these practices for years following a divorce, recognize the importance of these financial commitments to yourself. Contact us to learn more about our financial planning services or attend one of our free upcoming events.