The word Self-care or Tender Loving Care is commonly used in the day to day conversation among Filipinos. We have hair salons, foot spa, nail spa, brow spa, and different types of self-care clinics including the most recent ones – eyelash spa. We see them almost every day in television commercials, and in almost every mall in the country. All of them promoting awareness in how to take care of oneself, and each one of them end up with a huge impact on our bank accounts.
Getting the balance between giving ourselves some much-needed TLC (tender loving care) and making savvy spending choices can really be tricky. The issue is not in giving oneself a reward after a month of hard labor or a Saturday visit in one’s favorite hair salon because these will lead to a happier and healthier life. The issue is on the hefty price tag that comes along with it.
You may then ask yourself, "Has my self-care become an excuse for overspending?"
"Gusto kong magrelax to the max!" "I deserve to indulge myself to these 'self-care' programs"... these are some common statements that we commonly hear from our friends and relatives.
Again, there is nothing wrong in taking care of ourselves... One has to remember that the key to responsible self-care includes awareness of one’s present financial situation, and how self-care spending will affect it.
The basic financial planning rule dictates that the housing costs shouldn’t take more than 30% of one’s monthly income. Groceries and personal expenditures should be around 10-15%, and 10% goes to monthly utilities.
Self-care should take up less than that — about five percent (5%) of your budget, maximum. To make sure that one’s self-care habits do not have a negative effect on one’s finances is the most important self-care awareness that we should possibly have.
Here is a gentle reminder to everyone -- If one’s self-care habits start to manifest in the form of credit card debt either with growing or balances that are rolling over then one is probably spending too much. That is not self-care at all! The whole concept of self-care is defined as acquiring good, quality time to improve without constrictions, which is to breathe easily and not creating financial stress in order to do that is counterproductive.
That said, it is also important to indulge oneself on some level. One should still want to keep a small amount for fun and recreation despite getting one’s finances under control like saving and paying down debts. It is very similar to a person on a diet-plan, “You don’t want to withhold the treats for so long that all of a sudden you find yourself binging.”
Self-care need not cost a lot of money: go on a walk (kahit sa loob lang ng mall), relax by listening to your favorite band, or watch DVDs with a bottle of coca cola and a bar of snicker ---there are endless inexpensive ways to reward oneself, or to provide self-care without breaking the bank. Commit a small amount of money to have much affordable ME time allows one to be on track financially. It is way a lot more realistic — and fun.
For the ambitious ones, you can retrain yourself into thinking of managing your finances as the ultimate form of self-care. After all, maxing out your retirement savings and having an emergency fund will do more to reduce your stress in the long term than any spa clinics or fancy dine-out experience.
Similar to physical exercise, it is very rewarding and gratifying to see credit card balances go down and savings go up. That alone becomes a source of enjoyment.
It may not sound as fun or as relaxing as a two-hour massage, or a ME time in your favorite hair salon but planning for a bright financial future can be as addicting as to a regular visit to nail spa salon.
Personally, I have started a habit of saving Php500.00 a week. The amount I spent on coffee at Starbucks or Seattle's Best was put aside for my Pag-IBIG 2 membership savings (it's an upgraded membership savings of Pag-IBIG Fund. You can check it out at their website for the details: www.pagibigfund.gov.ph). I realized that it gives me greater joy than the caffeine jolt I normally get from expensive coffee. I have also figured out the types of self-care that are most important to me. The money which I spend on a weekly massage is instrumental to my physical and mental health, so I won’t cut back on that… I have also stretched-out time between having coffee in expensive coffee shops and brewing my very own coffee at home. Doing somewhat regularly is something I need to motivate myself — both to be successful and to stay on track financially.
Knowing when to spend a little money to spoil oneself and when to scale back is essential in keeping one’s mind — and wallet — happy and healthy. After all, securing financial freedom just might be the ultimate form of self-care.
So, think twice before you indulge yourself in a relaxing (but expensive) self-care lifestyle that you have developed over the years.
by Zell Sulit, MA, RFP
Zell has an MA in Counseling Psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University. He is a Registered Financial Planner (RFP) and a founding member of the Psychological Empowerment to Resources and Aspirations (PERA) Inc. which focuses on the promotion of Financial EQ to Filipinos locally and abroad.
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