When most people think of self-care, visions of manicures and massages often come to mind. But, in reality, self-care can incorporate a lot of different things.
The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
If we’re being honest, many “periods of stress” can come from putting things off that we know we should take care of. The good news is that “it’s possible to manipulate your dopamine levels by setting small goals and then accomplishing them. For instance, your brain may receive a spike in dopamine if you promise yourself that you’ll clean out the refrigerator, and then you do. This is one reason people benefit from to-do lists: The satisfaction of ticking off a small task is linked with a flood of dopamine.” (Psychology Today)
If self-care is something that makes you feel good…then checking things off your “adulting” to-do list fits the definition.
We all know how great we feel when we do things like make our yearly check-up appointment or clean out a closet; these “feel good moments” can apply to financial tasks as well. Taking care of small financial to-dos can not only give us that flood of dopamine, but they can also lead to positive long-term effects.
Here are 3 things you can do for a little financial self-care:
- Increase your 401k / retirement plan savings through your employer by 1 %. It’s a small monthly increase, and you’ll feel good about it.
- Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. It doesn’t have to be huge. Even $20 every payday will feel good (and won’t be missed).
- Most people don’t balance their check books. If you are in this camp, take a few minutes to review the spending in your checking account this past month.
- Where’s all the money going?
- What percentage is going to essentials? (The goal is 50% or less.)
- What percentage is going to discretionary things like going out to eat (The goal is 30% or less.)
- What percentage are you transferring to savings? (The goal is 20%.)
If things are out of whack, brainstorm a thing or two that you can do to get them back to where they need to be.
Again, none of these tasks are meant to be overwhelming. But envision how you’ll feel by taking care of just one. To quote a study by Wake Forest University, “While tasks we haven’t done distract us, just making a plan to get them done can free us from this anxiety.”
Cecilia Beach Brown Is a registered representative offering investment and advisory services through Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation, Member SIPC. Advisory Services are offered to residents of Maryland. LFS and its representatives do not offer tax or legal advice. Please see your tax or legal professional regarding individual circumstances. C Beach Brown, LLC, Pilot Financial Advisors and Lincoln Financial Securities are separate entities.