By: Jillian Starman, Ph.D., MFF Director of Education; Founder of Wise Women Leadership
Dr. Jillian Starman is the Director of Education for Morgan Franklin Fellowship Foundation: an organization that promotes financial independence through online financial literacy education, and the founder of Wise Women Leadership: an organization that focuses on leadership growth, performance improvement, and business coaching for women entrepreneurs and leaders.
If you have taken a trip by air, you should have heard the announcement regarding the use of the oxygen masks. The rule is that once they are activated, you should put your mask on before assisting anyone else. I have heard this message for years, but it wasn’t until I connected it to self-care practices that I realized how much this message resonates in everyday life.
You might be wondering why we are talking about self-care on a financial literacy blog. Self-care is about managing your energy so that you can accomplish the things you need and want to do, including making financial decisions. Much like the fuel gauge on your vehicle – you can’t go anywhere on empty. It is so important to design self-care practices that are put into action every day to reduce your stress level.
Making financial decisions can be stressful, but stress can be reduced by taking small steps towards your goal. Begin by identifying all your income and where you spend your money. Then look at the categories and see if you really need those items you have recently purchased. Next, review the list of income and expenses and see where you can cut expenses or increase income, and put the information into a budget worksheet. You can keep track of your progress in a spreadsheet, or there are some great apps online to help you set up your budget and stay on track throughout the month.
It has been proven that it takes at least 3-4 weeks to develop a habit, so I challenge you to schedule 20-30 minutes in your calendar each week, for 4-6 weeks, to review your budget and practice your own financial self-care plan – much like you would schedule any other important meeting or event. Keep a notebook (physical or electronic) and evaluate how your financial self-care practices make you feel, as well as how it is supporting your energy level and decision making. Documenting what you are learning and describing how you are using it will give you inspiration to make changes that will positively impact your finances.
What have you done today to reduce your stress and refuel your energy level?