By Steve Allender, CRPC®
I recently read a study that said a nurse’s concern for the welfare of others isn’t just professional. Nurses constantly put their families’ needs above their own—including when it comes to money. The study found that many nurses are taken aback when they are encouraged to fund their retirement accounts before spending money on their kids and grandkids.
This got me thinking about financial self-care and why it’s vital to healthcare professionals and their families.
What Is Financial Self-Care?
Financial self-care is the act of developing daily habits that help maintain and improve your financial health. These habits can take on many forms and can be as simple as creating a budget or as complex as implementing an investment plan that aligns with your values.
Why Is It Important?
Money is the leading cause of stress for Americans. (1) Stress, of course, affects your mood, your health, your relationships, your work, and more. So, making financial self-care a priority can help minimize stress and makes room for greater happiness and opportunity to enter your life.
What Flight Attendants Teach Us About Financial Self-Care
Do you know why flight attendants remind you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others? It’s because helping others first is a natural, automatic response. (2) And, as a healthcare professional, you’re probably even more hardwired to do so. But, if you don’t put your own mask on first, you may run out of air before you can help anyone else. Your finances work the same way.
When you constantly give, give, give to others and neglect your own financial well-being, you get to the end of your life with no way to help yourself or others. You have no retirement savings. You may even have debt, which only adds stress. You can no longer help anyone else because you can no longer care for yourself.
But, when you take some time to focus on yourself and your financial health, you end up feeling empowered. You know your life is secure, so you’re in a better position to help others when they need it. You have less stress and more energy to go after opportunities that light you up inside. This is the essence of financial self-care.
Financial Self-Care Checklist
Here are some easy actions you can take to start making financial self-care a priority in your life:
1. Create Inspirational Goals for Yourself
Do you remember how passionate you were when you first decided to pursue a career in the healthcare industry? You may have had years of schooling, certifications, and advanced degrees ahead of you, but you stuck with it because you felt so strongly about it.
You should have this same fiery passion for your financial future.
What do you want to accomplish in the next year? What about the next five or 10 years? Take 30 minutes to write down your goals. Be vivid and add as much detail as possible. Maybe you want to:
- Negotiate for a 20% pay increase within the next three months
- Advance your career by getting a new certification within the next year
- Save $24,000 toward a down payment on a house in the next five years
- Have $1,000 saved for Christmas gifts (so you don’t have to put anything on a credit card) in the next three months
- Build up a six-month emergency fund in the next three years
Whatever your goals are, they should get you excited about achieving them.
2. Reward Yourself Along the Way
The key to reaching all of your goals is to break them up into smaller milestones you can hit along the way.
For example, if your goal is to save $24,000 toward a down payment on a house in the next five years, focus on saving $400 a month (or $200 per paycheck, if you get paid bi-weekly). And then, make it fun by telling yourself that for every $2,000 you save, you get to treat yourself to a $30 pedicure or a nice bottle of wine. You’ll be amazed at how these little incentives get you excited about seeing your goals to completion.
3. Save For Your Future First
This may come as a shock, but you should save for your retirement before you save for your kids’ college tuition. Here’s why:
Prioritizing your retirement will help minimize the potential financial burden on your kids to support you in your later years. This is truly one of the best gifts you can give them.
That’s not to say you can’t save for your kids’ futures. Once you’re on track with your retirement savings, take any extra money you have and put it toward the kids’ college tuition or other future plans. And, through the years, you can encourage family members and friends to contribute to their college funds in lieu of gifts.
4. Do an Insurance Audit Once a Year
When’s the last time you reviewed all your insurance policies? I’m talking life, health, auto, and home insurance? If it’s been more than a year, it’s time to add it to your to-do list.
Life changes. And your needs likely look different than they did when you initially took out the policy. Reviewing your insurance policies once a year (or any time a major life event occurs) helps ensure you have enough coverage to protect your family and your assets.
5. Get Extra Help
Money is complicated—especially when you’re trying to tackle financial planning after a long shift or between your obligations at work and home.
Think of a financial advisor like a doctor for your financial health. Just as a doctor can help you prevent certain diseases, treat ailments, and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, a financial advisor can do the same for your finances. We can help you avoid common financial mistakes, address areas of concern in your current financial picture, and maintain a healthy trajectory toward your goals.
How We Help
At Acute WealthCare, LLC, we’re passionate about helping women in healthcare accomplish their life goals and find financial security. But, when you work in one of the busiest professions in the world, it can be hard to find time to do it all yourself. If you’d like help prioritizing financial self-care in your life, schedule a 15-minute introductory phone call with us to get started! We’d love to help you create a comprehensive financial plan that provides clarity and direction for your future.
Steve Allender is a partner and wealth advisor at Acute WealthCare, an independent, fee-based comprehensive financial management firm. Steve is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC®) who spends his days helping women in healthcare professions build a secure financial future through investment management and financial planning. Steve loves building long-term relationships with his clients and helping them address financial burdens so they can focus on what they love and how they want to spend their time. While Steve has officially been in the financial industry for over 20 years, he became hooked on learning about finances as a child when his parents taught him the basics of saving, spending, and giving. Steve enjoys all the outdoor activities living in Colorado provides, and you can often find him backpacking, snowshoeing, rafting, mountain biking, fishing, and exploring old mining communities. His claim to fame is that he is a Colorado Trail thru-hike completer, covering 486 miles of the most beautiful country on earth. Steve also enjoys a good book about Lincoln and the Civil War and is committed to his community, mentoring through Save Our Youth and helping the elderly and single moms with household maintenance through the Minute Man Ministry. Learn more about Steve by connecting with him on LinkedIn. You can also register for his latest webinar on What We Do & How We Help.