Self-care sometimes gets a shallow rap as being all manicures and bubble baths. But in reality, it is a far more sophisticated and holistic concept about how we can proactively create the life we want. The more we allow the idea of self-care to permeate all aspects of our lives, the greater long-term impact it can have.
We’re already familiar with self-care sometimes being a good mix of joy and discipline. For example, self-care for many of us looks like picking out a workout activity we can really enjoy and staying committed to a routine. Because I consider self-care something that extends to my financial well-being, I’ve created a handful of rituals that help me view money differently and connect traditional self-care principles to my financial management.
Weekly Money & Meal Prep
Meal prep has become a cornerstone of our ability to eat well and stay on track during busy weeks. In a very similar way, taking some time to prepare my budget every week helps keep my good habits on track on a short-term basis. And oddly, living in an expensive city means I end up spending a lot of money on food, so I actually do tie my meal prep and budget planning together on the same day to gear up for the week and review the week before.
I take Sundays to do my normal meal planning and prep, which is already a bit of a budget-related exercise for me since I get to think about all the money I’m saving over the week by bringing my own lunch! I also usually pop on one of my favorite financial podcasts while I’m working away in the kitchen, and it allows me to get into that holistic wellness mindset — knowing that I’m doing something good for my body, budget, and brain all at once.
Once my Sunday kitchen work is done, I feel like I’m in the right mindset to sit down with my finances. I pop open my personal budgeting tool of choice and go through my transactions over the last week. I always try to take the mindset of “What can I learn about how I spent my money?” As I go over my spending for the coming week, I focus on my big daily costs, budget goals for the year, and try to map out where there might be surprises. Tying these Sunday prep tasks into a collective ritual has made it a habit that I actually look forward to.
Visualizing Powerful Money Moments
If you’ve already gotten in a good habit of meditating, consider adding some additional visualization around what you want your finances to do for your future. I appreciate that meditation doesn’t have to look any particular way, and my other self-care rituals involve mediation that is both guided and unguided to mix things up.
One way I make this part of self-care a little more finance-focused is by creating meaningful money mantras that represent the way that I want my financial future to unfold. That can be as simple as “I am capable of earning more money” or even as encouraging as “I am good at saving money for experiences and investments that are important to me and my family.”
The point of these mantras is to give me something to focus on as I spend a few minutes visualizing how I want my financial habits to develop. While I run these through my head, I try to focus on what money mindfulness and financial stability mean to me. That often looks like a vision of a girl with a handle on her retirement planning, sitting down in front a spreadsheet confidently working through her budget, or picturing how I would structure the conversation when asking for a raise or new position.
These mantras and visualization exercises are helpful for me because they give my mind a “state of the possible” to connect to, and remind me of what my best financial behavior can look like when I really focus on it. If you’re a regular meditator, swapping out one more “general” session a week with one that is more financially-focused can start to prompt a really helpful shift in consciousness.
Checking in on My Relationship with Money
Having regular time with friends and loved ones is a huge part of self-care. It’s an opportunity to check on relationships and see if the little things we’re doing every day are adding up to the big picture of what we want our life to look like.
Similarly, checking in on your relationship with money and having landmark moments to tackle big tasks are important moments of financial housekeeping. On a day-to-day basis, I check in on my relationship with money by really trying to evaluate whether discretionary purchases are a want or a need, and focusing on what experiences and moods trigger certain buying behaviors for me.
One of my favorite health and wellness lines is, “Does what I’m about to eat get me closer to or further away from my health and fitness goals?” I apply that regularly to my expenses and ask, “Does what I’m about to buy get me closer to or further away from my financial goals?” Adopting this goal-focused mindset (even around little things) has made it easier to chip away at paying down debt and bumping up my savings.
There’s almost no greater act of self-care than looking out for future you, and future you is going to need some resources. So as part of checking on how you relate to money, consider the major times throughout the year when you need to take stock of the big picture. Raises, moves, and new jobs are all times that I re-evaluate what I spend and save, and evaluate how much of that I’m directing toward short- or long-term needs.
I often find that when I feel out of alignment in my relationship with money, it’s because I’m focusing more on resourcing my short-term self than my long-term self. Applying that self-care mindset of knowing that my future self deserves financial wellness can help on the days when discipline is running low!