Treat Yo Financial Self this Self-Care Day

Real Money Talk Back view of a young woman with headphone reading a book relaxing in bath.

TREAT YO’ SELF. A phrase we all know way too well. For real, life can be very stressful and we all often use treats to calm our nerves, cause hey we only experience life once! But as much as we love using crystals, facemasks, and vegan ice cream to cleanse the soul, sometimes treating yourself can quickly turn into cheating yourself.

Investing constantly in instant gratification may make you feel good in the moment, but it can actually make you feel worse once you’ve realized what you’ve done. (We’re looking at you empty pint of ice cream, splurge fancy watch purchase, impulse vacation buy, etc.) Ultimately these decisions will not move you forward in the long term, which should always be your goal.  

Now that’s not to say that you can’t have the 14k gold infused face mask, BUT take a minute to ask yourself two questions: Is part of the reason you’re treating yourself because you’re stressed? Is money one of the causes of this stress?

If the answer is yes and yes, it might be time to redefine what treating yourself actually means for you. A big part of self-care that most overlook is caring for your financial health. Money is a key part of all of our lives and we all need to care for it as much as we care for our mental health. Just think of how good it would feel to lose 10 percent of the debt on your credit card — probably more relaxing than a $25 bath bomb.

If you’re stumped on how to start giving your finances a little TLC, here are some ways you can start treating yo’ financial self right now.

Refresh Your Finances

Ok I know that your thinking, looking at your finances is definitely not a treat, but hear me out. You need to first understand where you’re at now when it comes to money in order to find the areas that need the most care and areas where your “treat” will make an impact. Start by checking your credit score using Turbo. If you’re unhappy with your status, check out these 3 ways to improve your number. If you’re feeling good about it, go ahead and move on to your debt to income ratio.

Turbo can help you easily figure out what your debt to income ratio is by calculating how much outstanding debt you have compared to your verified income. Generally, you want to aim to keep your DTI below 36%. If you find that your DTI is higher than it should be, going through the memberships and subscriptions you currently pay is a great way to quickly lower your number here. Chances are you’ll find you are paying a monthly fee for something you rarely use or at least can live without. Do actually you need both Netflix and Hulu? Both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh? Probably not.

Once you know your numbers, you can start finding areas where you can financially treat yo’ self, like paying off a bigger chunk of your student loans so you can get a new car.

Set Goals and Milestones

Speaking of improving your numbers, let’s say you want to relieve some of your financial stress. Start by outlining a clear plan of what you need to do to achieve this goal. Be sure to include milestones in your plan so you can see that you’re making actual progress. Pro tip: if you’re looking for a simple way to map out your finances, Mint can help you plan your current budget and track your spending along the way.

This is one thing I can’t stress enough — don’t put off goal setting and status checks. By setting realistic goals, you can help yourself get to a better future. Don’t just tell yourself “I’ll figure it out later.” Start setting goals right now. It may take a while to raise your credit score, but when you’re able to qualify for an outstanding car loan and get the electric vehicle you’ve always wanted, you’ll be so grateful you took that step toward investing in your future happiness.

Sure, making good choices won’t give you the instant gratification of getting what you want “right now,” but if you plan things out, you’ll get a greater reward later. Not to mention, you save yourself the guilt trip of spending money you know you don’t have and potentially racking up debt that will weigh you down later.

Setting goals and milestones can seem super overwhelming at first, especially when it comes to paying off debt. When I first saw how much I owed for my student loans, it felt like it was going to take my entire life to pay it off! But once I got over the initial shock, I realized with my plan in hand I could do it.

Stay Calm and Have a Cookie (but just one)

Once you get your plan in action, try your hardest to stick to the goal. Think of it as a diet, but the reward isn’t the number on your clothing tag, it’s the number on your debt to income ratio.  And being able to say “I’m debt free,” which is even more attractive, IMO. But don’t punish yourself if you fall off the wagon. Even most diets say you can do 90% good food, 10% bad food, so use the same principle with your financial goals.

Now don’t go crazy (moderation is key, after all) but give yourself permission to indulge in some comforts along the way so you don’t feel deprived and inclined to cave in completely. Try making your splurge an actual treat. Switch your latte habit to once or twice a month. That way the drink becomes a real treat on rare occasions and not an overlooked and undervalued purchase. By redefining your self-care treats, you may start to realize that you can find a balance between getting something fun in the moment and something financially stable down the line.

At the end of the day remember, self-care isn’t just about the here and the now, it’s about the future too.

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