All the demands and priorities of your day are stressful enough without having to worry about your finances too. Practicing self-care for your finances can be just as vital in managing stress and preventing burn-out as caring for your mental, emotional, and physical needs. When it comes to managing your financial health, you should choose activities that lay a foundation and incrementally build your savings so you can support your needs and eventually reach your goals.
If you’re not sure where to start, these five financial self-care tips are some good plans to start considering.
Create SMART goals
The journey to sound financial health starts with a good plan. So first, it’s important to take some time and review where you are in life in terms of your career, relationships, finances, and personal goals. From there, start to evaluate where you see yourself in a year, five years, or ten years. To make sure the goals you’re setting for yourself are realistic, consider them through the lens of the SMART framework. Each goal should be:
- Specific: Ensure your goal is clear and detailed enough to follow through with
- Measurable: It is important to have a way to track your progress to stay motivated
- Achievable: Keep your goal realistic and one you can work on with resources available to you
- Relevant: Make sure this goal matters to you and aligns with your other eventual goals
- Time-bound: Set a target date as a deadline to keep yourself on track and potentially reassess
Setting, pursuing, and accomplishing financial goals that matter to you will help you build your confidence and give you the control needed to better attain a fulfilling and balanced life.
Create a Budget
A budget is simply a plan to help you better manage your money. It is an easy way to see how much money you are earning, spending, and saving. You should keep track of your total income, weekly and monthly expenses, and how much you can consistently save on an ongoing basis. By knowing where your money is going, you can be more intentional when spending your money and feel better about maintaining a healthy money mindset. Review your current budget on a regular basis and adjust it as needed to meet your goals.
Save up for an emergency fund
Unexpected situations happen in life all the time, and having an emergency fund to deal with these situations will give you a safety net that will help you weather the storm and decrease your overall financial stress. In general, it’s recommended to have an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of your regular expenses or 3 to 6 months of your income. Put some money aside in a bank account where you can access money easily in case of an emergency. Although it may take a while to reach your savings goal, automatically setting aside a small amount on a regular basis can make a big difference in the long term.
Dealing with debt
Debt is a major area of stress for many Canadians. It is important to stay on top of payments to prevent it from snowballing out of control. Experts recommend making a list of all of your debts, their payment dates, and interest rates. Focus on paying off debts with the highest interest rate first. Your banker, non-profit credit counsellor or Certified Financial Planner are all experts who can work with you to create a plan to consolidate your debts, negotiate better interest rates, or develop a budget and repayment plan that fits your finances.
Remember: you’re not alone in your financial journey. If you are feeling overwhelmed, there are many professionals and resources out there who can provide guidance and information tailored to your situation. Some of these resources include:
- Accredited not-for-profit credit counsellors
- Financial advisors and planners
- Licensed Insolvency Trustees
Always seek advice only from reputable resources and companies. There are also many tools and information available online on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website.
Financial self-care that leads to secure financial health is achievable through practicing and maintaining good habits. You’ll see a major difference if you can build a solid foundation and adjust your budget as that foundation grows. Make sure to regularly review your recent achievements and thank yourself for making a change, while adjusting your budget to achieve new and better financial goals in the future.
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