There has been a LOT of talk about self-care over these past few months, at least in the circles I run in. I find the conversations quite refreshing and unlike those pre-COVID. I hear some people talk about “taking advantage of this time” to learn a new skill or tackle a big project. On the other hand, plenty of folks have pushed back on that pressure to say “I’m giving myself plenty of grace right now” or “I’m just surviving and that is more than enough”.
If I’m being totally honest, I think I vacillate between the two. But I am thrilled that these conversations about self-care and mental health are so common and that people feel comfortable saying “life is hard right now” or “I’m barely hanging in there”. What I’m saying is, this transparency about taking care of ourselves and reducing stress (as much as possible) is much-needed.
But how does all of this translate to finances? And what on earth is “financial self-care”? I believe this is a great opportunity to take a step back and look at the big picture. I’m talking about everything here- your job, your housing situation, your marriage/partnership. What’s working and what isn’t? Personally, I’ve decided to quit my salaried job and start a business. Nerve-wracking- yes, but also liberating. My husband and I have had several conversations about remaining in our very expensive, coastal city, given that we expect to be working remotely for (potentially) years to come. While your circumstances might not allow a job change or a big move, this IS a time to start to evaluate what you want to keep and what you want to change.
On a more granular level, this period of time has also been a BIG reset for most people’s spending. Travel budget- gone; eating out- rarely; movies/concerts- $0. Particularly in the first couple months of quarantine, consumer spending was down quite dramatically. And this is another area where I encourage clients to ask “what do I REALLY need to live on”? Start with that as a baseline, and then you can layer back the things you TRULY love. But really think about it, before going right back to your former levels of spending.
When I talk about “financial self-care”, ultimately I’m referring to your lifestyle, spending, etc being aligned with your values and goals. If there’s a big disconnect, what needs to happen for you to bridge the gap? It’s also a great time to review that you have the basics in place- is your emergency reserve funded? Do you have adequate insurance coverages? Use this opportunity to assess where you are where you want to go.
And if all of this strikes you as too much to handle right now (see above if you are “just scraping by”), feel free to shelve this for later. There is no shame in being honest about what you’re able to take on at this point. In any event, I hope you can take one small action today in the spirit of self-care.