By Jo & Carl Violeta
As parents, we know how hard it is to look after yourself sometimes. With sleep deprivation, breaking up fights between siblings and toilet training, it’s rare to sit down and drink a cup of coffee while it’s still warm, let alone take time out for some serious self-care.
Looking after tiny humans is fun, it’s rewarding, but it’s also hard-work and time-consuming, and sometimes, well, it’s overwhelming.
We give so much of ourselves to others. But it’s also important to pay attention to our own wellbeing. When we think of wellbeing, we traditionally think of activities like yoga, meditation and massages, but a surprising way to boost your emotional wellbeing is by creating a solid financial plan. Yep. Getting your money and your budget sorted can make you feel amazing and reduce stress levels.
Research by the Financial Planning Standards Council found that people ‘who had sought financial advice reported significantly higher levels of both financial and emotional wellbeing than those who had no advice at all or simply limited advice’.
The research also found that having your finances in order can ‘instil confidence about reaching a wide spectrum of life goals’.
Also, having enough money to at least meet minimum needs is required for a baseline level of happiness.
Reducing unhealthy levels of stress can benefit our emotional and physical wellbeing. Financial issues are rated as one of the top causes of stress. Unfortunately, millions of Australians report experiencing financial stress.
The reasons for experiencing financial stress can vary. Some of the most common causes are debt, home loans, retirement, supporting the family and budgeting.
Although we, like many other parents, are still working towards finding balance and carving out time to look after our wellbeing, we do have the finance side of things sorted. And you can too!
5 ways to improve your finances AND your wellbeing
- Create a realistic budget. Having a realistic budget in place can allow you to spend more money on the things that make you happiest. Budgeting empowers you to spend smarter. It’s important to feel good about yourself first, so you can help support others. Finding room in your budget to set aside a small amount each month for some self-care can help you achieve that.
- Save an emergency ‘buffer’ fund. Having money tucked away in case of unexpected expenses can help alleviate some of the distress and worry associated with emergencies.
- Give yourself the gift of peace of mind by getting your superannuation sorted. On average, women live longer than men; however, most women will retire with significantly less superannuation (super) than men. In fact, the average super account balance for men is almost double the average balance for women. Set aside a few hours to review your super balances, find lost super and assess whether it’s appropriate to consolidate your balance and potentially plan to pay extra into your super.
- Don’t go it alone. Connection with others is a key to resilience, well-being and achieving goals. We exercise together as a couple, one of the trainers at our gym recommended it. She explained that exercising with others improves motivation and can make working out more fun. The same principle can be applied to managing your finances and achieving money goals. Managing your finances and budgeting can be perceived as boring, and if you’re trying to save you may need to make some sacrifices. Connecting with other like-minded parents, who are working towards similar goals can help. Facebook groups can be a great place to discuss money goals and ideas with other parents. The members in our Facebook group the ‘Mindful Money Mummies’ keep each other accountable, share money saving tips and resources, encourage each other to reach our goals and even share the odd bargain when we find it.
- Once you have a solid financial plan and feel in control of your money, you might like to consider supporting charitable causes and giving to those in need. Giving creates a sense of meaning, a feeling of being connected to something greater than ourselves, which is an essential component of happiness and resilience.
If you are experiencing financial stress and/or hardship financial counselling could help. Financial Counselling Australia offers a free financial counselling phone line 1800 007 007
Jo and Carl Violeta are self-confessed numbers nerds, parents of an energetic toddler and a super switched-on teenager, and co-founders of the award-winning business, Violeta Finance. They are a husband and wife team who are passionate about empowering their community with financial education, love the odd glass of wine, and get a kick out of helping families achieve their homeownership and financial dreams.