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How to create a financial self-care routine in 8 steps

Contemplated young woman looking away in thought while relaxing on deck chair using laptop in the backyard, surrounded by beautiful houseplants.
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The idea of self-care is increasingly essential. Prioritizing your physical, mental and spiritual health can help improve your overall well-being, making you more present for your family, friends and the things that matter most in life. Are you taking the same approach with your finances?

Let's face it, sometimes dealing with money can be stressful, from reports of spiking inflation to the volatile stock market to your income. So taking some time to embrace financial self-care may be something to consider—especially if you've been feeling a bit more overwhelmed than usual.

Here are the key details to know as well as insight around how to start focusing on your financial well-being.

What is financial self-care?

Financial self-care comprises the actions you take and the routines you set to help improve your financial wellness and well-being. Investing time and energy into financial self-care can help you feel more empowered about your finances, enable you to manage ups and downs better and help you take control of emotional decision making.

Life's twists and turns can often cause financial stress and lead to overwhelming feelings for many. And unfortunately, those emotions can sometimes play a role in decision-making, which can affect your economic well-being over the long term.

Most people have strong emotions tied to money, and reframing them to be positive can be challenging. But devoting time to exploring your thoughts and beliefs around money can help you look at your finances in a new way—boosting your confidence, providing clarity and making you excited about your plans.

That makes it easier for you to set financial goals, watch and manage your debt, invest for the future and learn how to borrow wisely if you need to. When you feel more confident about your financial health, it can be easier to create a plan and execute it. Focusing on financial self-care can help you avoid making decisions based on emotion, enable you to establish realistic goals and allow you to more easily see what fits into your budget. While it's possible to create a plan independently, a financial advisor can provide expert guidance.

8 tips for creating a financial self-care routine

Developing strategies and creating positive routines can help promote your financial well-being. Here are eight creative financial self-care examples to help you begin this new path.

Illustration of person thinking of money
Shift your money mindset
Heart with dollar sign
Explore your financial motivations
Family sitting at table
Talk with others about your finances
Icon of checkboxes on paper with a pencil
Set realistic goals
Map with destination point
Develop a financial strategy
Pay yourself first
Illustration of hand holding a phone and face timing
Know when to ask for help
Create a financial self-care checklist

1. Shift your money mindset

When you were a kid, running around playing tag in the yard or going for a swim, you probably didn't think of those activities as exercising; they were fun. However, as you become an adult, exercise can feel like work, even though it's good for you. The same thought may apply to monitoring your finances.

Reframing your outlook on financial wellness and changing your mindset can turn tasks you find difficult into something you enjoy again. Rather than looking at important tasks (like reviewing your monthly budget) as tedious, try to view them differently by injecting a bit of fun.

You can view your financial to-do items as games, challenges or opportunities to work on improving your future. For example, when the market is going through a turbulent time, challenge yourself not to open your retirement accounts daily and give yourself a reward for building a streak. Or you can give yourself a gold star for every day you stay on budget during the month and then trade in those stars for a "prize" you've been wanting.

2. Explore your financial motivations

Everyone is motivated for different reasons. For example, enjoying a long retirement with your family may be a financially inspiring goal that helps you focus on saving. Or perhaps you have a strong commitment to specific charities and want to devote more of your free time or finances to them. You can use these end goals to keep you moving forward.

Understanding your motivations can help you identify financial goals and more clearly see what's needed to achieve them. If you think you could benefit from additional insight into what drives you, consider taking this financial personality quiz, which provides an interesting way to explore how you respond to money.

What's your financial personality?
Your personality says a lot about who you are. And your financial personality says a lot about what money means to you. Our Financial Personality Quiz is just eight simple questions to give you insights based on who you are, so you can make the most of your finances.

Take the quiz

3. Talk with others about your finances

It's easy to think about money as something you shouldn't discuss. But you don't want to feel alone regarding your finances—especially with your partner and family, as it can be a significant source of stress. Instead, you want to be on the same page about your financial aspirations and fears, your nonnegotiables and the timelines you need to follow. Talking about these with your partner or family can help reduce stress and anxiety and make you feel more confident about your money decisions.

Set up a monthly meeting to chat with your loved ones about money. One way to make it more fun is to take it out of the house and pair it with something you enjoy, such as during a standing date for coffee or dessert at a local café. Having this meeting on the calendar makes it just as important as your dentist or doctor appointments or social engagements. If you need help getting the conversation started, here's a helpful list of financial discussion topics.

4. Be realistic about your financial goals

A critical element of financial self-care is knowing where you stand and what's needed to get where you want to be. Having a realistic look at your budget means digging into the numbers.

Set aside time to review your income and expenses and determine what actions are needed to reach your goals. This part may feel scary, so it's another opportunity to motivate yourself with a reward or pair the task with an activity you enjoy.

When you know what you're working with, it can be much easier to see how you're progressing and evaluate whether everything is going according to your plan. Plus, when you have accurate numbers, you can separate your wants, needs and wishes, helping you know how much you can set aside and allowing you to make related plans.

For example, if you're debating whether to put more money aside for a child's college fund or take the family on a memorable vacation, you can run the numbers. You may find you could actually choose both options by cutting back on lifestyle creep and saving more. Or you might decide it's best to reevaluate both options and reset your expectations. A financial advisor can assist with these important discussions.

5. Develop a financial strategy

Once you've shifted your mindset, explored your motivations and discussed them with loved ones, it's time to establish a financial plan that can help you reach your goals. A good way to develop a plan for the future is by working backward.

First, consider goals and plans you'd like to have down the road or in retirement. Then, review your current finances and create a budget to get on track, if you're not already. Next, it's about monitoring the numbers regularly. While tracking your daily spending might not seem fun, it's another place you can develop some strategies that make it feel less like a task.

For example, try out some apps that make budget tracking more automated, so all you have to do is review the numbers versus entering everything into a spreadsheet. Or try the swallow-the-frog technique—where you do the task you're least excited for first every day. You could take five minutes at the start of your day to review your numbers with your morning tea or coffee, check the task off your list and move on. Then you can celebrate kicking off your day by getting the hard things done first.

6. Pay yourself first

One common piece of money advice is to pay yourself first. That means taking money from your paycheck and putting it toward your savings and retirement plans or paying down debt and other obligations as soon as it hits your bank account. This can help you avoid temptations that could derail your progress.

While this may feel overwhelming at first, there are tools to help. For example, if you have a 401(k) through work, any money you contribute to that account is taken from your paycheck before you receive it. You even can choose to increase your contributions on a routine basis so the updated amounts are automatically taken out of your paycheck. This takes minimal effort but can help you feel confident you're putting something aside for retirement or other priorities every month.

Many banks also allow for automated scheduling. You may want to create a couple of different savings or checking accounts—for any debt payments and your rainy day fund—and create recurring transfers that will automatically pull money from your main savings into those accounts. What's left could be earmarked for guilt-free spending.

7. Know when to ask for help

No one is perfect, and mistakes can happen even with the best-laid plans. The instinct to hide thoughts and feelings about money might become even stronger if you're worried or embarrassed about these mistakes or debts you've accrued. This doesn't have to be the case. If you feel yourself getting off track, don't hesitate to ask for help.

If you make a mistake, practice forgiveness and try to learn from the experience. Then, seek expert guidance to see where you can put some guardrails to prevent another problem. Finally, think about what red flags may have arisen along the way that you can look for moving forward.

In addition to knowing when to ask for help, it's important to know who to turn to. Working with a financial advisor can make a difference. These professionals are trained to take a close look at your financial situation and offer personalized insight and advice.

8. Create a financial self-care checklist

After you've developed a plan to help you reach your goals and built out a support team to help you achieve them, it's time to put that plan into action. A great way to do this is by creating a financial self-care checklist you can regularly reference.

As you begin creating your routine and finding the methods that work best to keep you on track, make a list of the things you need to do daily, weekly and monthly as well as important dates for your future money checkups. For example, make space in the calendar for those monthly money dates when you'll review your day-to-day finances as well as those times when you'll check your progress on longer-term goals once or twice a year.

Don't forget to add reminders, rewards and activities that encourage good habits and help celebrate your wins. There are no rules saying the checklist can't include some fun. When it comes to getting into the right money mindset, it's all about keeping the forward momentum.

Work with an advisor to feel more confident about your finances

The path to financial self-care is a journey. But you don't have to do it alone. Consider teaming up with your partner, a money buddy and a financial advisor to set your goals, take steps to reach them and keep track of your progress. Connect with a local Thrivent financial advisor for customized insights and guidance around adjusting your budget and creating an effective financial self-care routine.