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Tax season has come and gone (phew!), and while many Americans find themselves rolling in a refund, others will owe money. Whether you have a “windfall of funds”—extra money—or are reluctantly reaching into some savings to pay your taxes, these actions can create an attitude of “What am I going to do?” Save or spend?
According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, more than 60 percent of Americans stress about money. Yep, you read that right. 60 percent! It’s important to remember that your health includes your wealth. If your finances are out of whack, so are you. And if you’re constantly worried about how you’re going to pay bills, this can take a toll on your emotional, mental and physical health.
Looking to push the reset button on your cash flow? Follow these three tips to find balance in your financial life and get your overall wellness in check!
Getting money back? It can be easy to spend it on something big, but maybe it’s time to rethink your refund. Take your tax return and apply the majority of what you get back from the government to any credit card debt you have. Start with the ones with the highest interest rate. Next, add some money—even if it’s not a huge amount!—to an emergency savings fund. Finally, don’t forget to spend a little on you! You worked hard, and you deserve to treat yo’ self.
The first step to finding financial balance is through creating a personal financial statement at least twice a year. The simple way to accomplish this is to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center. On the left side, list all your assets—funds in checking/savings, value of cars, home, and any property or investments that you may have. On the right, list the balances of all the debt (liabilities) that you have—what you owe on credit cards, loans, home loan, car loans, etc. At the bottom of the page, subtract the difference between your assets and liabilities—that’s your net worth. This practice will help you see your big financial picture.
Now it’s time to establish a monthly financial statement. Again, the easiest way is to get a sheet of paper and list your total monthly income (take-home pay) at the top. Under this list, write down your monthly payments of all bills including house, car, credit cards, etc. Don’t forget to include things like daycare, cell phone bills, utilities, insurance, gym memberships, manicures—all monthly expenses. Need a little extra help? Consumer.gov has a few handy worksheets to use. Lastly, take a long, hard look at your monthly expenses and see if there are any items that you can live without. Are you spending $5 per day at Starbucks? Going out to too many work lunches? Can you make that $9 smoothie at home? It adds up! Trade dinners and drinks out for hitting the gym or going for a run. Slash those expenses and try to pay down some of the debt you owe.
Breaking down your finances so you can see where you are and where you are going is a real eye-opening experience. Bestselling author and finance guru, Jean Chatzky, says her money philosophy is to “spend less than you earn.” It sounds easy, but dealing with your dollars can be a challenge. Just like eating clean or exercising, be mindful of your spending and work on practicing financial balance daily to get ahead. It’s never too late to start!
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.