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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Financial self-care: What it is & how I practice it

Financial self-care: What it is & how to practice it

12.21.2020

“Self-care” has become an overused buzzword, but the truth is, sometimes self-care requires hard work. 

Self-care is often the things we avoid doing — like getting honest with yourself about your spending and saving habits.  Just as exercise can become part of a health routine, you can train yourself to also practice financial self-care. Here's how.

The money date

A simple way to practice financial self-care is by scheduling a money date. Choose one day periodically (once a month often works well) and commit to it by plugging it into your calendar. If you share finances with a partner, involve them in the money date as well.

To make this more of a treat than a task, put on your comfortable clothes, pour yourself your favorite beverage and set the tone with an inspiring playlist. Make it something you look forward to — actually have a date, either with yourself or your partner.

Here are five tasks to complete in your financial self-care routine.

1. Make a note of any mindless purchases

When looking through what you spent your money on in the past month, are there any purchases that you can be more mindful about avoiding? These can include purchases made out of habit rather than enjoyment, emotional purchases or purchases that you can easily cut back on to stay on track to reach financial goals. This will help you refine your purchases in the future and stick to spending money on things you truly value.

2. Look into your subscriptions

Are you still paying for that gym membership even though you haven’t stepped on a treadmill in months? It might be time to cancel.

Didn’t realize that you completed all your app-based French lessons? Make sure to unsubscribe and put that money to use elsewhere.

3. Report any fraud on your accounts

Did a company overcharge you, double charge you or not refund you money that you’re owed? You can actually dispute a charge directly with your credit card company, which is what I recommend. If you are disputing with a debit card purchase, I would go to customer service of the company to try to negotiate first. 

4. Look at your account balances in full

For this step, consider using Empower’s free financial tools, which allow you to see all your accounts in one place, so it makes your money date go faster. Millions of people use these financial tools to get a complete view of their financial picture. With all your accounts aggregated in one place, you can:

  • Plan for retirement given a wide range of scenarios
  • Budget and save for your short-term and long-term goals
  • Analyze your investments and uncover hidden fees

It’s easier to do all those things once you know where you stand.

5. Check your progress toward goals.

Now that you have a good idea of your financial situation, it’s time to take a look at both your monthly and yearly money goals:

  • How much did you spend? Can you cut back in any areas?
  • How much did you save?
  • Which investment and savings accounts will you contribute to for your short, mid and long-term goals?

Again, consider using Empower’s free financial dashboard for this step. With the Savings Planner tool, you can see how much you are saving and how much you need to save in order to reach your goals. You can also use the tools to plan your annual retirement savings, your emergency fund and progress towards paying down debt.

Once you feel more aligned with where you’re at financially and understand what changes you need to make this coming month, congrats: You’ve officially finished your money date.

Money dates allow you to both make sure you are, in fact, progressing toward your goals and — more importantly — allow you to reflect to see all the progress you’ve made so far.

So go ahead — take care of yourself.

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