Incorporating self-care into your budget

Self-care has gone from a buzzword in our society to a way of life for many people. It’s defined as anything we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. But sometimes, we confuse self-care with a Tom and Donna “treat yo’self” mentality. While that impulse to buy of a cute pair of boots may feel like self-care, if we don’t watch out, our bank account can become a list of “self-care” impulse items.

As a big self-care advocate, and a master of spending money, I know firsthand how hard it can be balancing yourself and your desires with your bank account. Between family, bills, your automobile, home, etc., it’s important to carve out a little self-care funds and balance your responsibilities. Here are a couple of things I’ve found that are light on the bank account but heavy in the self-care goodness:

1. Use apps to de-stress whenever, wherever
There are several self-care apps (many free!) that offer relief from stress at the click of your finger. I love meditation apps like Calm and Headspace – they offer meditations anywhere from one minute to one hour! Sometimes, I’ll pop my headphones on, shut the door to my office, and do a five minute meditation to re-center and calm myself for the rest of the day.

Another app I’d recommend for physical and mental wellness is a yoga app. Many have free flows built in that you can do at home, the gym, or on the go. My favorite is the “Yoga” app. It has vocal guidance, a variety of timed and intensity workouts, and relaxing music. If you’re not new to yoga, then I’d recommend the “Yoga Teacher” app. You can customize your yoga workouts and make them as short or long as you’d like.

As I said, many apps are free, but you can get subscriptions for anywhere from $10-$30, and if you know you’re going to use it often, you can often save by purchasing a yearly subscription.

2. Build in a “you” self-care activity to your monthly budget
I love getting massages. I know that my massage therapist charges $60 an hour, and I make sure to set that money aside each month to treat myself. I’m also a big shopper. It is now literally my job to shop and I’m in heaven. So, each month I take out a budgeted amount of cash to shop with (and if I buy online, I deposit that money back in my account).

Not everyone is a massage person or loves to shop like I do. My business partner loves getting her nails done and goes every two weeks. She adds money to her Venmo account at the beginning of the month to pay her nail technician each appointment. By setting aside the money and allocating it for a specific, “you” focused activity, you won’t accidentally impulse-spend it all on Starbucks. Of course, I will never argue that coffee isn’t self-care. I believe coffee is beyond self-care and is a self-necessity.

3. Have a “happy place” in your home
Ideally, your whole home could be your happy place, but sometimes that apartment with roommates or house full of family means you don’t get to make everything just the way you’d like it. I love the KonMari method of “sparking joy” (a great method for clearing clutter too!) and I think it’s important to have an area that is restful, relaxing, and enjoyable for you. This could be a craft space, your bedroom, a reading nook – wherever. In that space, spend a little bit to make it special. Buy that cozy blanket or a new set of sheets. Get a plant – an easy and inexpensive way to bring good energy in. Get a great fake plant if you can’t keep a rock alive. Make sure to find a good chair to get lost in your reading. Spending a little upfront to make a special space in your home will pay off in the self-care realm in the long run.

Really, Alpha Sigma Alpha was doing self-care way before it was cool. By asking our members to focus on their intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical development, we were ingraining self-care activities and values long before celebrities were selling us products to make our troubles go away. Now more than ever, where it seems you can’t turn on the TV or scroll social media without seeing negative energy everywhere, it’s important for individuals to incorporate self-care into their lifestyle. Knowing the difference between impulse buys of unimportant things and purchases that are an investment in our mental wellbeing will ultimately save our sanity (and bank account) in the long run, and give us a solid foundation to conquer life and joyously live!

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