Who doesn’t want a better relationship with money? Finances are often not our first thought when we think of self-care, but they can profoundly impact our quality of life. Let’s get into the fundamentals of financial self-care, as well as some helpful resources.
It may take some research to develop the ability to make smart decisions with money since we often aren’t taught personal finance in school. Instead, we must seek out the knowledge ourselves. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available.
Good financial self-care practices are the foundation of a solid relationship with your money. It is a practice and an ongoing process, not something that can be done once and forgotten about. Like many people, I used to be scared of dealing with money because I didn’t understand it. Over time, I became more educated and empowered and a lot less stressed!
Welcome to Practical Self-Care! It’s a year-long, 12-post series on Plants and Pondering dedicated to exploring all aspects of self-care. Understanding and practicing self-care has changed my life.
If you’re brand new to self-care or you’re looking to deepen your practice and hone in on the best ways to care for yourself, this journey is perfect for you!
When you’re taking care of yourself, it makes everything in life more manageable. You can be more productive, creative, emotionally balanced, and have the energy to work toward your goals with your best effort.
With that being said, let’s get started on Practical Self-Care together!
This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.
I’d like to explain the target audience I had in mind when writing this post. I’m aiming to help people who are getting started with personal finance. Or maybe you are just getting by, but you want to be more educated and in control of your money. If you already have a lot of experience managing your money, you probably won’t learn anything new here, but you’re welcome to read on anyway!
Disclaimer: I am not a professional. This post is not meant to tell you what to do with your finances in any way. The intention is to share my journey and the process that I used to become more informed about personal finance.
Benefits of Financial Self-Care
When you think of self-care, your money probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But managing your finances is a component of self-care because they can significantly contribute to your overall well-being.
It can be in a negative way, like stressing about having enough money to pay the bills and your credit card. Or, it can be in a good way, like knowing that you have a budget and can handle unexpected expenses that may pop up.
Financial situations are very personal and often influenced by circumstances outside of our control. Regardless of where you start, there are ways to improve your financial standing, educate yourself, and develop a healthier relationship with money.
Here are a few benefits of financial self-care:
- Worrying less about money. Reduce stress in that area and have more time for other things.
- Fewer impulse purchases. You’re less likely to buy things you’ll regret when you have a budget and stick to it.
- Feel empowered. Use your knowledge to be more in control.
- Work toward bigger financial goals. You’ll be in a better position to do things like pay off student loans, save for retirement, or buy a house.
I’d like to share a little bit about my background with money. I didn’t learn much about money growing up; it just wasn’t something that was discussed very often. Generally, I was a saver, so I wasn’t the type to spend all my money as soon as I got it.
Thanks to my parents, I knew a little by the time I was in college. I had some practice and an idea of how to use a credit card responsibly. (Paid off on time and in full whenever possible!)
Now, let’s fast forward to two years ago. I started my first full-time job, and I wanted to get my finances under control to move out. I quickly realized how much I didn’t know about personal finance, and I needed to change that.
My parents were happy to share their recommendations and answer my questions. I also started doing more research on my own. There’s always something new to learn, and I am far from being an expert in personal finance. However, I do know a lot more than I did two years ago.
If you’re in a similar situation as when I started, know that it’s never too late to start learning. Financial literacy and good practices are so critical.
4 Steps to Practice Financial Self-Care
Are you ready to get started on your own journey with financial self-care?
These are the four steps that took me from comically uninformed to relatively in control of my finances. They boosted my confidence and helped me make sound financial decisions.
Again, I am not an expert, and I’m not telling you that you should follow these steps or do anything specific with your money. These were the steps that seemed logical to me, and it may be a useful approach if you’re also feeling lost.
Step 1: Identify where you are (with numbers)
We all have to start somewhere. Your first step might be to just identify where you are right now.
Think about and describe your current relationship with money. Do you try to ignore it as much as possible, or think about it way too much? Also, it’s worth reflecting on how money was treated growing up. You may have picked up certain attitudes or behaviors from your parents.
As a part of identifying your starting point, you can take a closer look at the numbers. Record your savings, all forms of debt, investments, emergency funds, and anything else. Tally everything up to get the full picture of your financial situation.
You may also want to evaluate your methods. Consider what you like or don’t like about how you currently handle money. What’s not working, and what do you want to change?
Most resources that you find about personal finance will be better at explaining this than I am. Basically, the first step should be an honest look at where you’re at right now.
In my case, I realized that I had no awareness of good personal finance practices. I didn’t want to move out on my own and unknowingly make mistakes or build bad habits.
Step 2: Identify where you want to be
Next, it’s helpful to understand where you want to be. Include things you want to learn or understand and financial goals you want to achieve.
The goals may be straightforward, like paying off your credit card debt, learning about your credit score, or creating an emergency fund. Maybe you don’t even know what you want yet, and that’s okay too! It can be easier to set realistic goals once you have a better understanding of the basics.
You may be aspiring toward short-, medium-, or long-term goals; they don’t have to be set in stone. You might have an idea of what you want to do and then change your mind once you’ve done more research. It’s good to be flexible, but I find it helpful to have something to work toward.
Generally, it’s wise to focus on paying off debt first. There are several different methods for paying off multiple sources of debt. If this is something you’re trying to do, you’ll probably want to research these methods and decide which one to try. Saving up an emergency fund is also a common first step.
For me, I started with Personal Finance 101. Things like basic budgeting, credit cards and credit scores, and setting up a retirement account with my employer. I focused on getting familiar with these topics first.
About a year later, I felt like I understood this well enough, and I had a routine that was working for me. My new goal became learning about investing, which felt like the next level.
Step 3: Find good resources
Personal finance knowledge isn’t going to magically make its way into your brain. (At least, it didn’t for me.) Luckily, there are plenty of trustworthy resources out there.
Find ways to learn what you want to know. This may be with websites, books, podcasts, or even by hiring a financial advisor. The last option is probably costly but also provides personalized assistance for your situation.
I’d like to warn you to be cautious here. Be careful of the people you take advice from and their motivations for recommending certain things. For example, you probably don’t want to buy stock in some company based on a random person’s comment on the internet. Financial websites or other sources may recommend a specific financial product or service not because it’s right for you but because they will receive compensation for doing so.
And full disclosure here, I am also using affiliate links in this post! I’m sharing resources that I have used myself and found to be helpful. Of course, a book recommendation is different than telling you something like which bank you should use, but I still want to be transparent.
Broke Millennial Books
When I started out on my financial self-care journey, I wanted to use a book as my guide. I wanted one person’s knowledge and advice in one cohesive package.
So I found Erin Lowry’s book, Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together.
This book is aimed toward the true beginner or anyone looking to make better financial decisions. I appreciate that she covers many topics and situations that millennials encounter, like dealing with student loans, splitting the bill when you’re out with friends, and moving back in with your parents. Lowry isn’t judgy or shameful. She just wants to educate people and give them the tools to get their financial lives on a better path. Which is really what financial self-care is all about!
There are two more books in the Broke Millennial series. Broke Millennial Takes on Investing covers everything that a beginner investor needs to know, and it was my primary resource when I learned about investments. Broke Millennial Talks Money is a guide to taking the awkwardness out of conversations about finances, whether it’s with your parents, friends, coworkers, or a significant other. I haven’t read this one, but it’s on my list!
Clever Girl Finance
This is a resource that I found more recently, but it has proven to be super useful. Clever Girl Finance is a website dedicated to empowering women to improve their financial well-being.
They have a vast selection of articles and free courses to teach you pretty much anything you’d want to know about money. Some popular categories include budgeting, financial wellness, investing, side hustles, and discussing the racial wealth gap.
If you’re more of an audio learner, they still have you covered! The Clever Girls Know podcast is run by the founder, Bola Sokunbi. In each episode, Bola interviews a different woman about some part of her financial life. They cover both mistakes and good decisions that they’re made in a wide variety of topics.
I love hearing all of the different stories and perspectives on this podcast. It’s inspirational because I’ve seen what other women have accomplished, which helped give me the confidence to pursue my own financial goals.
Step 4: Use your new knowledge
Now it’s time to use your new financial self-care knowledge! Take those resources and make your own plan to reach the goals you’ve already outlined.
It may be overwhelming at first, especially if you’re doing a complete overhaul of your routine. It’s okay to start with small steps and make one change at a time. You may also want to simply track your spending for a month before you begin a new budgeting system.
Don’t be afraid to change strategies if something’s not working for whatever reason. Give it a month or two, and then change the parts that you don’t like. Learn more about this and how to stay on track with your goals.
The mindset can often be the hardest part! Be consistent, patient, and forgiving as you work toward your goals. Bad habits don’t develop overnight, and it will take time to implement better practices.
The learning process is also cyclical. You may learn some things and then recognize there’s more you want to know. Go back and repeat the whole process, adjusting your methods or goals as you learn more.
I went through my first ‘cycle’ when I was first starting out and just focused on the basics for a while. After about a year, I felt comfortable with that and wanted to take it a step further, which was the next ‘cycle’ when I learned about and made my first investments.
So that is my introduction to the fundamentals of financial self-care! I hope it has inspired you to work on your own finances to make a positive impact on the rest of your life.
What is your best tip for financial self-care? What’s something money-related that you would like to learn more about? Let me know by leaving a comment!
If you’re looking for more self-care ideas, check out the other posts in the Practical Self-Care series: