When you think of "self-care," meditation retreats, therapy, lazy Sundays, and boozy brunches might come to mind. But it turns out that more and more folks are adding their finances into the self-care mix.
Thinking about making money management part of your self-care routine? Here are 16 simple ways to give your wallet some good self-care on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis:
1.If you don't already, check your bank balance once a day.
2.Track your spending so you know where your cash actually goes.
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Start by downloading an app to help you track your spending, or sit down with your bank statements and make a spreadsheet. Then check in on it — ideally every day. You just might be surprised when you see where your money actually goes.
There are so many money management apps that can help you keep track of where your money goes — Mint, Truebill, Simplifi, and Dave — to name a few. Or your bank might offer similar tracking tools in their app.
My personal favorite as of late is YNAB. While it can be a teensy bit too nitty-gritty for some, it's really helped me stay on top of my money situation.
3.If you're feeling anxious about money, try jotting down your thoughts in a financial diary.
4.Save up for your emergency fund so you have cash on hand in case of unexpected events.
5.And get an opportunity fund going, too, so you have money for exciting things like career changes and vacations.
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An emergency fund makes us think of the dreadful and unexpected — your car breaks down, you need 911 dental work, or you get laid off. An opportunity fund is a cash cushion you can tap into should something good and exciting pop up in your life.
I've leaned on my opportunity fund to take time off when I was struggling with severe burnout, and it allowed me to take a risk and try out freelancing. Maybe you want to take time off to get that business idea off the ground. Or you might want to just take off on a crazy, spur-of-the-moment adventure with your friends. Whatever form and shape that opportunity looks like, having money squirreled away so you can jump on it is pure gold.
6.Make time to learn more about money. It can boost your confidence and help you stay on track with your goals.
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There are soo many great podcasts, documentaries, YouTube channels, TikTokers, books, and blogs that can teach you how to money. It really depends on where your interests lie, how you like to absorb information, and which personalities and educators vibe best with you.
I personally love podcasts that get to the emotions and narratives people have around money. Some of my faves are The Couples Financial Coach Podcast, Beyond the Dollar, and Real Simple's Money Confidential.
As for books, I really enjoyed Erin Lowry's Broke Millennial series (there are three of 'em), Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche's Get Good With Money: Ten Steps to Be Financially Whole, and Ramit Sethi's I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
To get started, commit to listening to a short podcast or reading a chapter of a book each week. Even 15 minutes of learning a week can add up to big knowledge gains over time.
7.Create a money map to help you plan your spending and saving for the month.
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Getting a handle of your money situation begins with two major things: knowing how much money comes in each month, and knowing how it's spent. That's where your money map (aka budget) comes in.
If you've never made a budget before, you might like to try out a popular budgeting method, such as the 50/30/20 budget, which splits up your cash into needs, wants, and goals; the zero-sum budget, which gives every dollar a job; or the guilt-free budget, which prioritizes saving money first. Or check out what happened when another BuzzFeeder got help from a pro with making their first budget.
8.If you have debt, use a tracking system to help you manage it.
9.Take yourself on a money date to look at the big picture.
10.Research ways to earn more money, like side hustles or passive income.
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If you feel like you're hitting a wall financially, think of ways that you can earn more. You might pick up freelance work using skills or equipment you already have. Or consider gigs that either break up your usual routine or require you to learn new things outside of your day job. You might even explore passive income opportunities, which can have money rolling in while you binge your favorite shows (just know that these usually take some time and/or money to set up). Whatever you choose, adding another income stream can help you get ahead.
11.Set money goals and give yourself rewards when you hit them.
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The sweet meat of money management is when you hit dem money goals! When you save for that amazing vacay, pay off a credit card balance, or reach that such-and-such goal, celebrate your wins by treating yourself. It might be a nice dinner, little day trip, or small splurge. Enjoy yourself — just make sure you keep it within your budget.
12.Check in on your retirement account balances, or open one if you haven't yet.
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Recently, a 19-year-old asked me if I could go back in time, what advice would I give to my young self? True story: I would open an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) as early as possible and keep contributing to it.
The earlier you sock money into a retirement account, the better. If your employer offers a 401(k) or 403(b), you can automate your contributions so the money is taken out of your paycheck before you ever see it. And if your employer has a match, aim to contribute enough to get it.
If you haven't opened a retirement account yet, consider opening an IRA. There are two main types: Roth and traditional. The main difference is when you'll be taxed: with a Roth IRA, you'll be taxed the year you make contributions. With a traditional IRA, you'll be taxed when you start making withdrawals (which will most likely be decades from now). If you think you'll be earning more down the line, a Roth IRA might be a good choice for you.
13.Add annual and quarterly bills to your calendar so they stop sneaking up on you.
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Ah, and let's not forget to add those bills you only need to pay quarterly, every six months, or once a year. This might include your car insurance premium, other insurance premiums, car registration, website hosting, domain names, and subscriptions you pay for once a year.
One way to budget for these expenses is to divvy up the cost by 12, and then save that amount each month. For instance, if your car registration is $300 a year, then tuck away $25 a month to pay for it.
14.Ask for help from a mentor or financial pro.
15.Go over your insurance policies to make sure you have the right coverage at the best price.
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Insurance can be confusing. And intimidating. Plus thinking about something bad happening to get a payout can dredge up unpleasant feelings. Still, it's important to make sure you have the right insurance policies in place, and in turn the right coverage amounts.
Once a year, go over your insurance policies and make sure the policy and what it covers are a good fit for your current life situation. As your life changes, so can your insurance. Plus, this can also be a great time to shop around for better rates.
One more thing: Some health insurance plans have free perks, which you might be leaving on the table. For example, some can hook you up with discounts to the gym or offer step-tracking or sleep-monitoring programs where you can earn rewards or gift cards. It's worth your while to read up on your policy or reach out to a rep to learn exactly what those perks are.
16.Finally, check your credit reports at least once a year.
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Having a high credit score can mean landing the best rates and terms on everything from a mortgage, car, personal loan, and credit cards. Having not-so-great-credit equals not getting approved for the loans and cards you want, or having to pay a ton of money in interest. In other words, it could cost you a small fortune.
Typically you can order one free credit report a year through AnnualCreditReport.com from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Pro tip: You can stagger them so you order one from each bureau every three or four months. The good news is that you can order reports for free weekly through April 20, 2022.
Besides checking your credit scores, make sure that all the information on your reports is correct. Mistakes or fraud could show up on your reports and hurt your scores. If you spot an error or fraudulent account, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau to have it removed from your report.
Do you have a tip for giving your wallet some care? Share how you like to take care of your money in the comments.
And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.