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  • Financial Wellness is the New Self-Care

    Perhaps 2024 is the year you've set your sights on reducing stress and prioritizing your health. You may have goals such as maintaining a balanced diet, exercising more consistently, or pursuing other wellness-related aspirations. However, it's important to recognize that there is another significant stressor that often goes overlooked – your finances. According to the American Psychological Association, money is the leading cause of stress for most Americans. The long-term effects of unmanaged stress can take a toll on your health, leading to issues such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, sleepless nights, and more.

    Integrating financial well-being into your self-care regimen can greatly enhance your overall wellness. By taking control of your financial health, you can alleviate the burden of money-related stress, leading to improved physical well-being.

    Here are a few ways to include financial self-care into your self-care routine.


    1. Educate Yourself.

    The first step to financial wellness is knowing the state of your money and finances. It may not be a pretty picture at first. You may even have fear and anxiety about the state of your financial health, but the sooner you know where you stand, the sooner you can start moving in the direction you want to go with your money and finances. Start by taking a look at your account statements (banks, credit cards, etc.) to have a clear picture of how you’re spending your money and to monitor for any fraudulent activity on your account.


    2. Prioritize Your Budget.

    Having and sticking to a spending plan helps you to be intentional with your money. A spending plan, also known as a budget, is the foundation of financial wellness. It’s an effective way to control your finances. Do you know what your weaknesses are? Is it the iced coffee from your favorite local coffee shop, a clearance sale, or daily visits to your favorite lunch spot? Tracking your income and expenses will show you where your money is going and where you can cut unnecessary costs. Having a spending plan puts you in control of your finances instead of your finances controlling you.


    3. Build an Emergency Fund.

    It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” something will happen. Life is unpredictable, and financial emergencies are bound to happen. A major car repair, a sick child or pet, a lost or broken phone, or a leaky dishwasher could happen at the most unexpected time. Having an emergency fund puts you in a position to handle the unexpected without accumulating additional debt. Typically, it’s recommended to save between six to eight months of your take-home pay or monthly expenses to cover emergencies. If this seems overwhelming, start small and gradually build your emergency fund from there.


    4. Create a Debt Pay-Off Plan.

    Paying down debt frees up additional money you can save for emergencies or to reach your financial goals. Don’t know where to start? First, make a list of all your debt, starting with the highest interest rates to the lowest rates, including the balances for each account. Once you’ve completed your list, approach your debt with a repayment plan. The two most popular debt elimination methods are the debt avalanche method and the debt snowball method.


    5. Stop Paying Unnecessary Fees.

    Now is an excellent time to evaluate your accounts. Are you paying fees for your checking account or credit card? Have your financial needs and goals changed? If so, it may be time to consider the benefits of exploring new account options. There are checking accounts with little to no fees or a credit card with no annual fee. It may seem to be a hassle to switch accounts, but it may be worth it to avoid paying unnecessary fees.


    6. Set Boundaries for Yourself.

    Whether we realize it or not, other people’s lifestyles, choices, and opinions may influence how we spend money. Be influenced and motivated by your personal choice to take care of your financial well-being, first and foremost. If you’re trying to cut back on your spending, it’s okay to say “no” to invitations, or suggest a cheaper alternative.


    7. Get an Accountability Partner.

    Managing finances isn’t a fun and easy task. It takes time, discipline and patience to figure it all out. If you’ve tried many times to stick with a budget without success, consider an accountability partner. It may seem overwhelming or easy to procrastinate, but if you have someone you trust and who is willing to help you stay on track, you are likely to stick with your goals.


    8. Treat Yourself.

    Managing your finances may seem overwhelming once you start the process. To help you stay motivated, reward yourself for reaching milestones or completing your financial goals. You could set a certain amount in your budget or challenge yourself to find inexpensive or no-cost ways to reward yourself. Take a long walk, watch a good movie on Netflix, give yourself a facial, or read a good book to reward yourself, or if you want to splurge a little, buy the handbag or special item you’ve been eyeing for a while.


    Invest in yourself by taking the time to prioritize your financial wellness, which can reduce stress and improve your overall wellness. Practicing self-care whether physically, mentally, or financially is not a one-and-done approach or a quick fix method to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s an ongoing process that requires intentional planning and discipline. Just like any routine, the more you’re consistent in developing the new habit or lifestyle change, the easier it becomes.

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