Much like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and every other commercial creation, a focal point day is an opportunity to spend money. But it can also distract us from acknowledging important feelings. So instead of another pink monstrosity of chocolates and roses, let’s talk about real love.
Regardless of whether you’re partnered up and celebrating Valentine’s Day, single and dreading it, or for this unusual year, simply missing the company of friends and family, why not use the ‘Hallmark Holiday’ as a good reminder to look after yourself and your loved ones? All of your loved ones – including your community and the planet too!
Sound like too lofty a goal? Get started with these simple ‘financial self-care’ suggestions.
“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.”
TW: The next section includes a brief mention of suicide.
Looking after yourself
As Whitney Houston said: “’Learning to love yourself, is the greatest love of all”, and the best way to love yourself is to look after yourself.
While we know the self-care wagon has been doing the rounds for a few years now and has become a bit of a buzzword, in all seriousness, looking after yourself is more important now than ever.
The U.K. is experiencing rising levels of what economists in the U.S. call ‘deaths of despair’ – those from suicide, drug and alcohol-related illnesses. And while it will be sometime before we know the true extent of the impact of Covid on mental health, we do know that the rate of depression in Great Britain doubled during the first lockdown alone. So let’s welcome anything we can do to care better for ourselves right now.
The biggest concern at the moment, when it comes to personal finance, isn’t debt (though that is pretty worrying), but a lack of confidence and optimism about the future.
Looking after your personal finances is the single most important way to feel in control of whatever comes next! It’s the reason this year’s National Student Money Week theme is ‘expect the unexpected’ and it should be everyone’s financial goal now that Covid has shone such a bright light on the precarious nature of most people’s finances.
Sort out your money mindset – like all of us, you’ve probably been making some different money decisions during Covid, so now’s a good time to really look at your budget, your debts, your savings and your pension plan.
Remember that not every new ‘Covid cash habit’ is a positive one. Here’s what we’re keeping and kicking for 2021.
Looking after your family
People spend so much time and energy building their wealth that they tend to forget to protect it. If you have financial dependents (individuals who rely on your finances), you need to protect them should the unexpected happen. Dependents could include children, parents, a spouse or a partner.
The best way to protect your dependents is to get appropriate life insurance. In the event of the unthinkable, this can help minimise the financial impact on your loved ones with a cash pay out that will support them.
Dedicate some time to boring paperwork and get your life insurance sorted. Also get a will while you’re at it, so you can make sure any assets you spend your life building are not given automatically to HMRC.
It’s not bad luck, but if the worst was to happen it will certainly have been bad planning. A good place to start in your search for life insurance is your favourite price comparison website.
Looking after your community
One of the few silver linings of this horrible pandemic is that it has made us all a little more community-minded. It’s true that most of us have added to Bezos’ wealth, but we are also shopping a bit closer to home, enjoying our local public spaces and banging out pots and pans to support our local essential workers.
Shopping locally is the easiest way to support your community, and ways we can help include:
- Giving local businesses your custom
- Leaving positive reviews to share the word
- Checking if your favourite local retailer is offering online services before defaulting to Amazon
Helping the community is also typically more environmentally friendly, and the real power of money isn’t in getting new stuff, it’s in being able to support causes and charities we believe in. A 2010 study found that “people experienced happier moods” when they gave more money away.
Don’t worry if you don’t have money to spare; donations can also be made in the form of unwanted items, or even time.
If you’ve time to spare, donating it will give you joy, satisfaction and good feelings. Get started by looking up your local community’s facebook page or news site, and you’ll likely find countless ways to contribute.
Looking after the planet
It turns out that almost all the great things you can do for your money are also great for the planet – win, win! We’re talking avoiding buying fast food or fast fashion, looking at investing sustainably and watching your carbon footprint.
Living a less consumerist lifestyle is the single most powerful move for both your bank account and the environment. We’re always discussing with students how they don’t need the latest phone or Instagram trend, but this is really a message for everyone.
How you engage with your finances can have huge repercussions especially as environmental, social and corporate governance moves up the agenda and organisations look at their ‘triple bottom line’ – all ways of saying that they are thinking in terms of the next generation, not just the next quarter.
Almost a fifth of UK savers are choosing an environmentally friendly pension product, so keep yourself informed and speak up about how your pension is invested.
Your pension should (as much as possible) reflect your ethics and view of the world. Check out the product guide from Ethical Consumer.
Financial self-care suggestions that last longer than a day!
So there we have it; why not mark this V-Day as a good reminder to turn your attention to these simple ‘financial self-care’ suggestions and show yourself and your financial wellbeing some love?
They’ll help you feel the love across these four important areas, not only for a day, but for years to come and beyond – that’s got to trump a dozen red roses!
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