THE NOTION OF self-care has been making the rounds in lifestyle magazines and across social media networks – and a similar philosophy seems to be making its way into financial planning sessions and personal finance advice now, too. Financial self-care, like general self-care, can mean different things to different people. But the gist is about taking the time to focus on your finances and figure out how your money best fits into your life.
Financial self-care is both about behaving with and experiencing money in a more optimal and fulfilling way.
Unfortunately, many Americans do not view money positively. On the contrary, 62 percent count it as a source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association's 2017 Stress in America Survey, the second most common stressor behind only "the future of our nation." So one important step in practicing financial self-care is to work on changing that way of thinking and "reframe a negative thought into a positive thought," says Reeta Wolfsohn, president of the Center for Financial Social Work, based in Asheville, North Carolina. "A lot of people get stuck because they've made really poor financial decisions. We work on forgiveness and seeing that they're deserving of better."
I would like to take it one step further. In my experience as a business coach, I often see clients whose finances are "not in order" sometimes suffer also from a strong case of procrastination. Finances are NOT the only thing they procrastinate. People put-off getting organized and putting their finances in order until they are in trouble. By allowing procrastination in their lives - in any facet - they increase tension, anxiety and stress in their lives.
Procrastination on any level is an act of NON SELF-CARE.
Business owners are among the most hard working people I have met. They continuously prioritize themselves BEHIND the business. Any remaining time in their day is spent worried or thinking about their business. And for some reason, business finances is on the top of the list of things they worry about BUT the last thing to handle on their To-Do List.
I wish I could tell them that it isn't that complicated.
I wish they could see that if they were to spend just a short period of time out of their week to manage their finances, they could have more peace of mind. I know that good financial management doesn't mean money flows freely but knowing the facts and figures eliminates the uncertainty.
I wish I could convince them that it important to take time for their health, their family AND their money. Money facilitates health and family - that is why it is important to pay attention to it.
Here are some suggestions that can start right away to provide you with peace of mind:
Grow an emergency fund. Losing sleep is no surprise when you don't have the cash on hand if something, like a car breakdown, medical emergency or loss in income, rears its ugly head. There's a massive savings problem in the country, so if you don't have any emergency fund, then everything is a crisis.
Start small. Automating monthly debits, even small amounts, into an emergency savings account can radically increase your financial hardiness. In fact, a study from the Urban Institute recently found that savings accounts stocked with as little as $250 to $749 can drastically reduce the chances that certain financial disruptions will derail a family's finances. Every little bit helps.
Here’s a baby step: Put away one month’s worth of expenses. Doing that will teach you how to track spending, budget and get a sense of your monthly expenses. You can grow a full emergency fund – three to six month's worth of living expenses – from there.
Prioritize. If every aspect of your financial life is amiss, prioritize which ones need the most attention. Focus on making sure that you have food, shelter and clothing before stressing about the rest. "As much as the credit card company may want us to believe that what we owe them is the most important thing in the stack of bills, our mortgage is probably the most important thing, too," Ruby says.
If you don't know how to start, seek professional help. An expert can show you how to get your finances back on track – and you can sleep better at night.
If you are a business owner, it is time to take care of yourself. Your family needs you. Your business needs you. Your customers need you.
Take some time and give careful thought to your habits or more importantly, any lack of productive habits - such as managing your money. As a business coach, I can help.
We want you around to do business and life with.