It can be hard to slow down and take time out for yourself…and your finances. This is especially if you’re juggling work, life, and love. But what’s the point of crushing it at work, killing it when it comes to your fitness goals, and holding it down at home and in the community, only to risk losing it all with lackluster money management skills and systems?
With the seasonal shift, what better time to change some habits and develop new ones? Take all of September to engage in the deepest of financial self-care so all of the things you worked so hard to acquire will be protected now and in the future. Here are some easy ways to get you started:
First: Clean House. During your first week of financial self-care, you’ll engage in detox on two levels. First, the emotional. One of the reasons so many of us avoid our finances is because we harbor an array of negative emotions around our past money mistakes and behaviors. In order to move forward confidently, however, we have to engage in radical self-compassion and offer ourselves financial empathy and forgiveness.
Say, “I forgive myself for (fill in the blank). I was only doing my best. Now that I know better, I will do better when caring for myself and my money.”
Once you’ve confronted your internal money blocks, focus your attention on decluttering your digital and physical money spaces. Eliminate apps, unsubscribe from retail sites, and delete emails that clog up your inbox and make it difficult to locate important financial statements or correspondence. Similarly, go through your home and shred all unnecessary paperwork and designate one area in your home you’ll use to manage your household finances.
Second: Do a Deep Dive. If Week 1 offers you clarity and sense of control, then the second week reveals which areas of your money life need more love. During this week, make sure you assess how you’re attending to these three cornerstones:
- Savings: How much do currently have in savings? Is it enough to cover your living expenses for a minimum of 3 months? If not, what will be your game plan?
- Debt management: How many credit cards do I have? What are my current balances across these cards? Do I need all of these credit cards? What measures will I take to eliminate this debt (i.e. save more, get a higher paying job, start a side-hustle)?
- Retirement: How am I planning for the future? Have I started allocating a portion of my income toward an individual retirement account (IRA) and/or retirement options offered at my job?
Third: Take Action: Week 3 allows you to move to action in a thoughtful and deliberate way. It can be tempting to want to get super aggressive with all of your money goals and attempt to pursue them simultaneously…but don’t. It’s a recipe for overwhelm, frustration, and anxiety and it will cripple your progress. Be patient and intentional with your financial self-care goals: choose one and work on it until completion.
Break down your goals into smaller chunks and set daily reminders about what has to get done to meet your deadline. Once you’ve crushed that goal, then you can pursue the next (with even more ease and confidence.)
Fourth: Rinse and Repeat with Accountability. As you engage in financial self-care, you’ll encounter challenges, disappointments, and you may even revert to some of your past money behaviors. To reduce the chance of backsliding, enlist the support of your Internet and IRL financial friends that, too, are about securing the bag, positive living, and living in financial harmony.
Money self-care is the ultimate self-care, but it requires time and attention. Once you’ve created routines and rituals that make communicating with your money simple and straightforward, taking care of your coin will become second nature.
Kara Stevens is founder of The Frugal Feminista, an award-winning personal finance site committed to helping black women heal their relationship with money so they really live life on their own terms.