What a headline, huh? Some of you may get what I mean already, in which case, awesome!
But, if you feel like budgeting is the exact opposite of self-care, then this is the post for you!
Or not, the choice is yours!
Lets first go into the definition of self-care. While most often referring to activities to maintain your physical health, the term is more and more now used to describe activities done for one’s own mental wellness. Often times it brings to mind images of pampered people at the spa getting facials or folks in athleisure clothing doing Zen meditation and yoga, saying “namaste” ad nauseum.
Or browsing through pictures of adorable puppies on the internet (click here to see ours!).
It makes self-care look so nice, friendly, and serene….
But that’s not, and shouldn’t, always be the case. As my good friend (or so I desperately wish), Lizzo says, “self-care has to be rooted in self-preservation, not just mimosas and spa days.” And while I want to believe that a glass of red and a deep tissue massage would solve all my problems, I know it will just make me feel good and pampered. Sometimes, that is exactly what the doctor ordered, relaxation, but other times we need to struggle a little to take care of ourselves. Think of exercising when you don't want to, or eating a salad when you really want a cupcake. Exercise and diet are acts of self-preservation. Budgeting too is an act of self-preservation. Not just in the now, but in the future as well.
“But doesn’t the word “Budgeting” cause anxiety?”
However, I feel that budgeting is akin to therapy. The self-care type that makes you cry, makes you frustrated but, overall, makes you feel more aware of yourself. This is something I hinted in my last blog post, but it is immensely helpful towards your wallet as well as your mind, body, and soul. It forces you to ask, “what do I need to do for the future me?”
Let me talk about my own experience. I started Billfold Budget to be the type of person I want to be, somebody who helps others with personal finance so that they can continue to make the world a better place. To become the person that I needed to be, I knew I needed a financial runway to launch. So, much like how a personal trainer looks at your behaviors and keeps you accountable, I had to go over my expenses and see what was and wasn’t helping me become the person who would start Billfold Budget.
It wasn’t an easy process, mind you. My partner and I both were making more than we’d ever had before, and we were definitely enjoying the spoils of our jobs. But ultimately, we both wanted to be more than consumers of things for the rest of our lives. We wanted to align our goals with our dollars, to come up with not just limits on our spending, but a spending plan that aligns with our values and goals. We both began to budget, and we kept each other accountable. A practice we continue to this day.
It also doesn’t need to be perfect, though. I know that when I started saving up, it took me a few months before I actually meet my monthly target. Similarly, if someone has never tracked their expenses beyond seeing if they had money in their account, then it will take some practice to get used to. But I believe anyone can do this.
So how are you feeling? Motivated? Comforted? Hungry?
None of the above?
That’s completely valid.
Obviously, if you’re basic needs aren’t being met — food, clothing, shelter, safety, and support, then budgeting is rightfully the last thing on your mind. I know that I’ve only been able to budget because I've been privileged enough to deal with little discrimination, have decent health insurance, and supportive friends and family to turn to in my times of need. It makes it a helluva lot easier to start budgeting when my other needs are taken care of.
Additionally, sometimes we have mental roadblocks that get in the way of budgeting. Beyond not being the most fun way to spend a day, money, for better or worse, is often associated with people’s character. And sometimes we ignore planning around our money because we associate it with some Scrooge-like character who cares more about dollars than individuals. But to be the best person we can be, we must take care of our selves. And that includes our financial well-being as well.
Like a lot of self-care, budgeting is something you do to maintain a level of self-preservation. It, much like that glass of red and a deep tissue massage, is not a silver bullet that will slay all your problems. But, once you’re at the point in life where you can budget, it will definitely give you the space to enjoy pampering yourself from time to time.