It’s been two months since I started my full-time job. Two months of a new work/life juggle, a new routine for the boys, a change in school gates running, a shift in identity about what type of mother I am now – a SAHM? A Freelance Mum? A WFHM (work from home mum)? A working mum…… Just a regular mum juggling the juggle….?
With the new job has come, hallelujah, regular and reliable income, which is something that as a freelancer I haven’t had for the past 5 years since having my second baby Freddie. My work has fluctuated around my other job of mum. The huge positive of being able to cobble my career around my children’s lives has meant that quite often months have been more famine than feast. I’ve been working on my money mindset a lot for the past two years, an essential way of making sure that my income can be tiny but still mighty paying for London life without being swallowed up mindlessly or creating debt. I read You Are a Badass at Making Money and took part in Jody Shield’s free Magnificent Money Challenge and realised how much my money mindset accentuated my feeling of scarcity and lack when it came to income and wealth. A common stuck phrase in my head was ‘I have no money’….and the universe mirrored that back to me by, well, ensuring that I had no money. I read Open Up: The Power of Talking about Money recently and, simply, I feel we need to talk about this subject in relation to mental health much, much more freely with our family and friends.
So alongside my newfound regular income, I have been implementing habits to ensure that I don’t get giddy and fritter money away on coffees, fast fashion and sandwiches which would leave me firmly back at square one where money is concerned: but actually take my financial health in both hands and begin to make inroads on securing an abundant financial future.
A financial self care routine
Self-care is often dismissed as being all about bubble baths and pampering. But in reality, it’s a far more sophisticated and holistic concept about proactively taking ownership of our long term health and wellbeing, and incrementally creating the life we want our future self to live. The more we allow self-care rituals and habits to permeate all aspects of our lives, the greater long-term impact it can have.
A truly healthy vision of self-care is one of combining immediate joy with discipline – it’s not always taking the fun/relaxing/easy route (think: I’m tired and so will stay on the sofa vs push myself go out for a brisk walk) but it is always the most nourishing long term. What does your future self need? Self care takes your future self and puts her firmly in its sights. Finances have a profound impact on mental health: the past few years I have had huge anxiety about my financial stability and earning potential, so for me, self care necessarily extends to my financial wellbeing. I’ve created some rituals that help me view money differently and connect traditional ‘wellness’ self-care principles to my financial management.
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Weekly Money and Meal/Snack Prep
Hands up those of you who spend invisible amounts of cash on your lunch break, or on coffees/biscuits/bottles of wine? Do you ever wonder where on earth your money has gone?
Since starting work, I have taken in my lunch every day and as far as possible make most of my working days no spend days. I make my lunch the night before (it’s either leftovers or something else like veggie pasta, I’m quite partial to a hot lunch rather than a sarnie and so need to be organised), and ensure that it’s in the fridge ready to grab and go in the morning. A couple of years ago I worked in-house for a maternity cover as a Project Editor at Bloomsbury Publishing, on the Bloomsbury Sport imprint. I loved the work, being back in an office and it was a fantastic investment in career networking (Bloomsbury subsequently became my publisher for Pilates for Pregnancy and my upcoming Postnatal Pilates) and skills-updating. But I bought myself a Pret lunch or other, every. single. day. And – not to put too fine a point on it, publishing doesn’t pay that…abundantly. At the time I was paying for 18-month old Freddie to be looked after by a childminder for the duration of my hours at work and for a school pick up for Maurice – and after a few weeks I did some sums and realised that, by buying myself lunch every day, I was neatly tipping myself into deficit for my daily wage. I actually was paying to go to work. So that was a lesson well learned in mindful money.
Sunday and Monday nights I do my weekly meal planning and prep, and I allow myself to feel smug thinking about the £1000 or more I’m saving by making my own lunch. I’m lucky that my work provides free fruit for all of us, which I discovered has a huge boost to office wellbeing – which I take full advantage of (I’ve never eaten so many apples as I do now!). I’m a real 4pm snacker so the free fruit has been a godsend – but if it wasn’t there, I’d have to plan for that rather than nip out to buy a chocolate bar which wouldn’t be that bounteous for my wallet or my gut.
I check my bank balance every day: there are loads of useful financial apps out there right now but I love Money Dashboard – it’s a free app and honestly has revolutionised my spending as all the miscellaneous money haemorrhages you otherwise might not notice are categorised and sorted plain as day. Ahhh so I spend HOW MUCH on coffee every week? I go through all my transactions at the end of the week, making sure I don’t fret about it but instead try to take the mindset of ‘What can I learn about how I’ve spent my money?’ As I go over my spending for the coming week, I focus on my big daily costs, saving goals, and try to pre-empt any surprises coming up. This is now a self care ritual and a habit that I actually look forward to – no more shying away from my finances.
Visualising A Good Relationship with Money
If you already have a meditation practice, think about adding some visualisation around what you want your finances to do for your future. Now, I know that it sounds quite cringeworthy but since reading Jen Sincero’s Money Making book I’ve absolutely embraced money mantras that articulate the way that I want my financial future to unfold, and maybe gently force me to confront my innate discomfort where money is concerned. Mantras can be as simple as ‘I am capable of earning more money’ or even as encouraging as ‘I am good at saving money for me and my family’. One of my faves which used to make me inwardly roll my eyes but now feels joyously positive is ‘Money flows freely to me’.
Mantras give me something to focus on as I spend a few minutes visualising how I want my financial habits to develop, how I want to feel. I focus on what money mindfulness and financial stability mean to me. And this also is a good way of crystallising how you want money to work for you: giving you the confidence to tackle really important issues such as asking for a pay rise, which women are notoriously rubbish at.
If you’re a regular meditator, swapping out one more ‘general’ meditation a week with one that is more financially-focused can start to prompt a really helpful shift in consciousness.
Checking in Regularly with my Relationship with Money
Self-care is looking out for future you, and future you is going to need some cash to live on. As much as that dress from Zara will nourish your immediate gratification – is it nourishing for your wallet? No. Or for the planet (er, definitely no – fast fashion is one of the biggest pollutants for the environment). Often we bumble through life with inherited, conditioned, emotional views about money. We may categorise ourselves as ‘bad with money’, letting ourselves off the hook about having to be conscious of our spending habits. If you haven’t already before now, motherhood is almost the BEST time to shine a light on your relationship with money, and to re-evaluate what you spend and save, without getting freaked out, but instead trying to learn and become more mindful about your financial mindset and daily habits.
Applying a self-care mindset of knowing that your future self deserves financial wellness and mental wealth can help on the days when your giddy self wants to immediately head to Zara.com and splurrrrrge.
Do you have any financial self care rituals? What do they look like, I’d love to know…
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