It probably comes as no surprise that typically money and health goals are at the top of every new year’s resolution list. When it comes to preserving our health and saving money though, many of us often have a tug of war with these goals.
We think that saving money means cutting back on self-care (which we mistakenly categorise as ‘unecessary’) => goodbye gym and yoga classes! So long health shakes and organic food! See you later vitamins and supplements!
But, what if the two goals are more closely linked than we thought?
And what if, by learning to prioritise our health and wellbeing we can start to get ahead financially too?
Why health and wealth go hand in hand
The fact is that research has found a strong correlation between our finances and our health and wellbeing, particularly for women.
For starters, as women we are masters at putting everyone else’s needs above our own and prioritising the urgent (eg housework) over the important (ME time).
This can start to put a strain on our finances in several ways:
- When we are tired and over-worked we are more likely to make impulsive spending decisions
- By neglecting our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing we are more likely to suffer ill health down the track (hello medical bills!)
- When we lack the time to think strategically about our money we don’t make the most of available opportunities (eg calling around to get a better deal on our home loan or insurance).
In turn, feeling financially strained can lead us to feel sad, stressed and anxious. This can cause us to eat badly, exercise less and drink more alcohol, resulting in a lower overall satisfaction with life. This in turn causes us to spend more on retail therapy and takeaway, adding further to our money woes and creating a vicious cycle.
As you can see, our physical and financial health often go hand in hand.
So if you want to simultaneously improve your physical and financial health this year, here are a few simple steps to help you along.
Step 1: Reassess your priorities
As women we are conditioned to believe that our first priority above all else is to look after the household. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, women spend twice as much time as men on household chores and childcare. It’s time for this change!
If your partner already helps you out when you ask, that’s a great starting point. However, this still means you are carrying the burden of having to remember what needs doing. It’s time to absolve yourself of all responsibility related to the task, including the thinking and planning, and reducing your expectations. Remember, done is better than perfect.
Ask yourself: In the grand scheme of things, what is more important? That the house is always spotless? Or that you have time freed up to do more of what you enjoy and look after yourself? I’ll say it again: done is better than perfect.
Step 2: Keep it simple
When we take on a new goal, we have a tendency to get over-excited and so we end up going from one extreme to the next, which makes the new goal too hard to stick to. For example, we go from regularly having takeaway dinners to breaking out the latest and greatest cook-books, only to find that the recipes require 20 ingredients you don’t have and take forever to prepare. Before long you have tossed the recipe book and unused groceries in the bin and have reverted to takeaway in frustration (and hunger!).
It is important to recognise that changing habits takes time. So if your goal is to cut back on takeaway, start off by focusing on preparing meals that you are familiar with and that are quick and easy to do every day, so that you can get in the habit of eating in. If toasted sandwiches, spag bol and frozen pizza is all you can muster – then so be it. It’s a start!
Step 3: Start small, start today
Start to carve out regular time in your diary. Learning to prioritise self-care is going to take time, so start off by picking something small that you can manage to do for yourself on a regular basis. That may be:
❤️making time to go for a walk each day
❤️taking 5 minutes a day to meditate
❤️going to the gym once a week
❤️taking a shower uninterrupted (barricade those doors!)
❤️scheduling your annual medical/dental check-up
It is almost impossible to grow your wealth when you are busy looking after everyone else’s needs. By learning to let go of the pressure to do everything perfectly and giving yourself permission to slow down, you will begin to create space in your schedule and in your mind. Soon you will notice that you are less reactive and more proactive, not just with your finances but with all areas of your life!
Natasha Janssens is a Certified Money Coach (CMC)® and founder of Women with Cents. She is an award winning finance expert with a passion for supporting women to transform their relationship with money. If you don't know what you don't know when it comes to money and financial matters, her book Wonder Woman's Guide to Money is for you. If you would like to work with Natasha, take the Money Type Quiz and book a quick get-to-know you call.