Written and co-created with our friends at Ladies Talk Money.
Taking care of ourselves is something we’re constantly reminded to do. We’re told to find time to work-out, meditate and hydrate. And to do so we’re sold the idea that we need to stock up on the latest creams, candles, and superfoods, all of which come with a hefty price tag (and a serious dose of privilege). But this ‘treat yo’ self’ mentality that positions self-care as spending is not only a capitalist rouse, it’s also not an overly sustainable or accessible way for many women to take care of themselves.
The truth is: self-care isn’t about treating ourselves. It’s about practical, restorative, and sometimes uncomfortable activities done regularly that enable us to continue to show up in the world. In our minds, the most useful definition of self-care comes thanks to Black writer, feminist, librarian and civil rights activists, Audre Lorde, who refers to self-care as a radical political act. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence,” she proclaimed in her 1988 book ‘A Burst of Light; “it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Let that sink in deeper than your new moisturiser.
The reality is that most meaningful self-care habits happen without anyone watching, and without any pats on the back. They’re not pretty and rarely ‘gram-worthy, but they are courageous acts that make a meaningful impact on our health and wellbeing. Here to share why taking care of your money is indeed a form of self-care, we’ve partnered with our Pitch For Purpose 2020 Finalists Jessica Brady and Chandel Brandimarti from Ladies Talk Money to bring you their top tips for financial self-care.
What’s the link between taking care of our money and self-care?
Money is inextricably tied to self-care as one of the biggest factors contributing to our mental health and overall wellbeing. 1 in 3 Australians are suffering from financial stress, with money woes consistently ranking in as one of the top causes of stress. When we’re in control of our money we have the freedom to make proactive choices, the ability to navigate unexpected financial shocks, and a sense of stability and security. By carving out the time to check-in with our finances and long-term money goals, we reduce our chances of stress and anxiety and boost our overall life satisfaction.
Why is financial self-care so important for women?
We don’t need to remind you that women have been on the back-foot from the get-go. Not only is the gender pay gap *still* well and truly alive in Australia, but women statistically live longer than men and are retiring with less money (think: Living Longer on Less), leading to the growing trend of older women living in poverty and even homelessness in Australia (increasing by over 30% between 2011 and 2016). Clearly, this needs to change, and there’s no ‘silver bullet’ – however, boosting our financial literacy, as women, is one way to radically improve these outcomes. With stats showing that understanding and having control of our finances leads to better emotional, vocational and physical health (boosting up to 19% for women) and even leading to greater life satisfaction (up 16% for women), it’s time to take our financial self-care seriously, ladies.
5 things you can do to take care of your money
So, what practical steps can we take to make financial self-care a priority? Before we jump in, it’s important to acknowledge that financial self-care looks different for all women because all women are different. But the thing we all have in common is that this system was not built by us or for us. By that, we mean that women have historically been dismissed or overlooked by financial institutions from banks to super funds – all of which (up until very recently) were created by men to serve the needs of men. So, with that in mind, here are some suggestions that you can tailor based on your goals, circumstances, and what’s accessible for you.
- Set a regular money date with yourself: create a regular, recurring appointment in your diary to check-in with your finances. Set this at a frequency that is realistic for you to make sure you’re making money a priority (without creating another burden for yourself). Once a month can be really good to make sure you’re looking at spending and saving patterns, but choose a timeline that works for you!
- Get a clear idea of where you’re at: this is all about clarifying the current state of your finances. How much money do you have coming in and out each month? What’s your super balance? And if you have any extra money, are there ways it could be working harder for you? Lots of women are looking to enter the investment market right now, and here’s a great place to start. Or jump on the Ladies Talk Money website and have a poke around for some handy tips.
- Set some money and savings goals: to help keep you on track, get specific about what you want to achieve in the short and long-term. Break it down into meaningful increments (weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly for example), and have a clear idea in your mind of what it’s all ‘for’. It’s amazing how much we can save when we have a goal in mind.
- Sharpen your money lingo: the financial sector is full of confusing jargon, so it can be worth the investment to put some time aside and increase your money vocab. Here’s a helpful glossary to unscramble the finance lingo and encourage every woman to join the conversation.
- Learn the difference between emergency and savings funds, and have one of each: not all savings accounts have the same purpose. By creating separate ‘buckets’ for your savings (one for emergencies and one for big-ticket items and long-term goals), you are building the foundations of a financial safety net. Try this Taking Care of Your Money guide, and know ‘rome savings funds weren’t built in a day’.
While it might feel uncomfortable, overwhelming, or ‘just another thing’ to make time for – taking care of our money is one of the best things we can do to take care of ourselves. While we’re all at different stages in our journey and financial self-care will look different for all of us – the important bit is that getting started is more important than getting it perfect.
About Ladies Talk Money
Ladies Talk Money is a new platform that tackles the complex relationship between women, their finances, and the barriers keeping us from achieving true financial equality. It’s time to have open and honest discussions about money, and change women’s financial futures – one conversation at a time.
Want to learn more? Read our earlier post from Jess and Chandel – 5 Tips For Taking Care of Your Money
The finance info discussed in this seriously fab article is general advice only. You should consider your personal circumstances or reach out if you’d like to discuss your individual needs.