Debt Got You Down? Self-Care Is the Answer!
Self-care is one of the many buzzwords to gain traction on the blogosphere in the last year or so. Google “self-care,” and you’ll find images of people blissfully doing yoga with goats, eating healthy food, or kicking back with a good book. You might also find articles and suggested “self-care to-do lists” packed full of low-stress activities like napping, unplugging your electronics, and indulging in “me time.”
You know what you won’t find on those lists? Things like paying down debt and creating a workable budget.
Self-care is all about carving out time to unwind and de-stress. And unfortunately, for many folks, finances and debt are a significant source of stress and anxiety. But here’s the thing: Debt repayment and self-care don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Yes, paying down debt takes discipline. And yes, it does mean changing a few habits, sticking to a budget, and cutting a few luxuries – but it doesn’t mean giving up on everything that (to steal another lifestyle-blogger catch phrase) brings you joy.
And let’s be honest: When you’re tackling high-interest credit card debt, you need all the joy you can get. Here are a few wallet-friendly things you can do to take care of yourself as you take care of your finances:
- Don’t forget to budget for fun. Budgeting is sort of like dieting: If there’s no room for an indulgence here and there, it’s probably not sustainable in the long term. That’s why it’s super-important to make sure that your monthly budget includes something that makes you really, really happy. For some people, that might mean a gym membership. For others, it might be socking away funds for a nice dinner once or twice a month. For still others, it might mean splurging a Netflix subscription or seeing live music once a month or so. Pick something you like, and make it a non-negotiable part of your budget.
- Set aside “me time.” One way to fight stress is to make sure that you’re getting time to do something for yourself. Again, this will vary from person to person: Listen to a podcast. Read a book. Soak in the tub. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Fall down an interesting Internet rabbit hole. Do something just for you.
- Don’t cheap out on food. Sure, a diet of non-stop ramen noodles and dollar-menu fast food will save you a ton of money – but you won’t be doing your health any favors by switching to a low-cost, zero-nutrition diet. There are many food options out there that are good for your health and your budget. Not sure where to start? Browse the internet for things like “cheap, healthy dinners” or “healthy meals under $5” – you’ll find a ton of options.
- Don’t lose sleep over debt. Sleep is critical to maintaining good mental and physical health. Debt is stressful, but it’s not worth losing sleep over it. The next time you feel debt worries start to take over at bedtime, try to remind yourself of the positive steps you’ve made. Congratulate yourself on sticking to a budget or curbing your urge to make an unnecessary impulse purchase. For more strategies on getting good, restful sleep, check out this list from the Centers for Disease Control.
- Set “debt-free” goals. Debt isn’t fun. At all. Do you know what is fun, though? Thinking about all of the awesome things that you’ll be able to do once you pay it all off. Without that high-interest credit card debt in the way, you can save for retirement or set aside funds for that dream vacation. You can save up for a down payment on a house, tackle your student loans, or beef up your savings. The possibilities are endless!
One more way to practice self-care: Talking to a professional. You don’t have to go it alone, and taking care of yourself means knowing when to seek help. The caring team at American Credit Foundation is here to help you take control of your budget, pay down your debt, and live your best financial life.