Always Thinking About Money? Here Are 4 Ways To Get It Off Your Mind
In this series we are talking about all the ways money can affect your mental health: And as part of that, we'll be regularly recommending you taking a good, hard look at your financial wellness habits, any emotional hang-ups, and evaluate what you can do about it. As many—or all, rather—of the experts I've spoken with have told me: You should be spending time with your money and thinking about your financial values on a regular basis.
This all being said, all good comes in moderation. We are by no means expecting you to start ruminating over your bank account. Chances are, you might already be doing that: A survey showed that Americans say money is the thing they think about most daily. But here's the thing: Part of having a good relationship with money is not thinking about it all the time. (If you just started a new romantic relationship, any good friend would tell you to cool it if you only thought about, interacted with, and talked about your partner. Same goes with money.) So here are some easy ways to get your mind off money
Automate when easy.
Some great advice I learned from financial coach Lynne Somerman: "There are some financial situations that just don't need decisions." These are going to be things like your rent, bills, cellphone charges, and other regular monthly expenses. "It is what it is, and you have to pay it. There is no reason not to automate things like bills because there's no decision there or value added to sitting down every month to write a check."
Schedule money time—and boundaries.
As financial therapist Bari Tessler teaches us, money dates are an important part of financial self-awareness. This is where you can learn about your spending habits and what your budget might look like for the next week or month. (She even advises shifting the mood in your space during the date: "Light a candle, bring out calming essential oils, and set an intention—do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel comfortable," she says.)
But what's equally important about this time is it sets boundaries about when you are thinking about your money decisions. If you decide that you are cutting back on shopping by a certain amount of money, let's say, then you've already set those boundaries for yourself so you don't have to address your spending habits in the moment. An example: You're not stuck in a store debating whether you think you have the money this month to spend on a pair of new sneakers (we've all been there); you've already budgeted for this and established your priorities.
Find financial friends.
Money can feel isolating. As we've spoken about a few times, it's a topic that's still entirely taboo. And when you can't talk about a financial issue or concern, it creates the perfect opportunity for you to dwell on your issues or even foster negative emotions like resentment or envy. "Find someone you can talk to who can be your ally," financial therapist Amanda Clayman, who acts as a financial wellness advocate for Prudential Financial, tells us. "You might find that they're in the same situation as you."
This can also help you stay accountable to any goals you have set. "Say you've told a friend that you're trying to organize your finances and that means you can only budget one dinner out a week, they'll know those are your priorities and know to respect your boundaries because you've spoken with them about it," says Clayman.
Ask for professional help.
"It's impossible for all of us to know everything about this topic, and nor do we; it's OK that you're not an expert," says Somerman. "All you need to know is when to ask for help."
Maybe this means your taxes: If each year, like clockwork, getting them done causes anxiety, maybe it's time to outsource them. Or, if you're really struggling to stick to a budget, maybe it's time to talk to a financial expert who can help you identify ways to make budgeting easier for you. For many of us, these just aren't things we weren't taught in school, or maybe even at home, so it's OK to ask for help when you are learning now. You don't have to do this alone, and professional help will ease some of the learning curve.
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Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.