Before I pass out into a deep sleep at the end of the day, I like to light a few candles and re-fill my aromatherapy diffuser with various essential oils. In my comfiest clothes I will run around my room looking for nail polish and face masks to validate my self-care. It was all fun and games until I realized I spent money on a few candles and face masks... money I could have bought groceries or dog food with. If only I hadn't stepped into that pricey boutique last week.
Some people shy away from self-care altogether, and although I want to label them lucky, I don't. I know a lack of self-care can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. My wallet may wince, but if I budget correctly I can (and do) incorporate self-care into my week to boost my mood, build my confidence, and help me stay productive.
There are so many ways to practice self-care and not all of them are budget-breaking or time consuming. Yes, often times self-care feels best, or better, when we have a little help from items, activities, and basically anything that makes us healthy and happy.
Self-care can be inexpensive and even cheap if you know how to do it! Keep reading below to see an example of a self-care budget and even grab your own free, customizable self-care budget chart. But first, why do we need to budget our self-care?
Why Should We Budget Our Self-Care?
Budgeting itself is always a good idea, but we may be missing important factors in our weekly, monthly, and yearly expenses. How much do we actually spend on self-care? How much should we spend on self-care? Our physical health and mental health both have their own necessary expenses, but even the best of us get off-track with our spending.
According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), self-care is approximately a 2.7 billion dollar industry in the United States (1). One can only assume that number has risen over time since 2012 and will continue rising.
The average yearly amount an American spends on self-care/self-help items: $257 (1)
The average yearly amount an American spends on complementary practitioners (versus conventional practitioners): $433 (1)
The average yearly amount an American spends on natural supplements: $368 (1)
If you were wondering what all of these self-care/complementary health costs add up to per year, I did the math. All together Americans spend an average of $1,058 a year, not including conventional health practices (such as doctors visits, prescription medications, surgeries, etc.).
Now listen, before you run scared from any self-care product known to man, you should know we need* self-care. We need natural treatments, treatment aids, doctors visits, medicine, complementary doctors, etc. and shouldn't have to sacrifice our health for fear of going broke!
*Why We Need Self-Care:
- Self-Care for Women: Fact Sheet (with resources!)
- Taking Care of Yourself from NAMI
- The Importance of Self-Care from TED Talks
Part of budgeting is organizing, moving, shifting, and managing finances. This need for flexibility requires us to move and shift finances in many areas of our lives. We can't forget to budget our self-care expenses, as well as other health and wellness expenses. This way you can manage how much you want to spend or can afford to spend on physical, mental, and management self-care products.
Self-care doesn't have to be (and really shouldn't be) expensive or break your budget. There are plenty of at-home/DIY/natural strategies and activities that are free, or very inexpensive! Below are a few wallet-friendly self-care strategies if your budget is still hurting:
- Talk to a friend. Call, text, email, or set up a time to grab coffee and chat.
- Practice basic hygiene and increase over time. Take a shower, shave (if you do), wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair, do some laundry, wash your sheets and pillowcases, etc. etc.
- Get some exercise. Go for a walk, use an at-home workout video (Youtube works), go swimming if you have access to a pool, go on a fun hike and picnic while you're at it!
- Journal. Track your moods**, identify your emotions, manage mental illnesses*** and use creative and expressive writing to increase self-awareness.
- Find something in the back of your kitchen cabinet and cook/bake it.
- Brush your teeth with baking soda for an at-home, DIY teeth-whitening session!
- Put on your favorite movie or TV show and relax.
- Practice mindful meditation or write/say aloud positive affirmations.
**Track your moods using Rose-Minded's new mood tracker packages.
Rose-Minded has created a multitude of free mental health resources available to the public and is adding a free self-care budget chart to that list! This site aims to provide information, resources, and support to anyone who needs it and everyone is welcome at Rose-Minded.
Below you will find an example self-care budget chart. You may use the examples provided, tweak them to your liking, or throw them out completely and start fresh with your own ideas. Under the example self-care budget chart will be brief explanations for everything you see on the example chart so there's no confusion!
In this section of the chart, write down how much you'd like to spend (whether it's over a week or a month) on any given self-care item or activity. Then, write down how much you actually spent once you've purchased the product. As an example, I wrote a free self-care idea on my chart like $0/$0. To save space, feel free to list your free self-care activities on a separate page or the back of your budget chart!
The priority section is a little more structured than the budget amount section. Use this section to list what category your self-care falls under: physical health, mental health, or health management. Organize your self-care ideas into these categories to help you identify which areas need work, which areas you're spending too much in, and how your activities benefit your wellness.
Self-Care Item or Action
Go one step further and specify the item or activity you want to purchase/use/do. It could be a broad label such as 'hygiene' or it could be really specific, like my N-A-C Supplement for dermatillomania in the example budget chart I filled out above.
Physical Health, Mental Health, Health Management
Use these three categories to prioritize what items and activities you find beneficial to your well-being. List physical and mental health items/practices/routines and get as specific as you'd like! Use the health management section to list the self-care items you use or activities you do to help support your health.
Physical Health Examples: work out routine, vitamin C for immune system, yoga class
Mental Health Examples: N-A-C Supplement, antidepressants, meditation
Health Management Examples: pill organizer, mood tracker, nutrition diary
Use this printable worksheet to plan, organize, and budget your self-care habits and routines. You'll save money, lower your spending, increase your self-care practices, and discover new ways to take care of yourself!
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