Look after your mental health as well as your wallet
Monday 16th of January 2023 is known as “Blue Monday”. However, many mental health professionals recommend we move away from this term, as our mental and emotional health do not follow a calendar.
Many of us do find that the start of the year can be a difficult time., The Christmas holidays ending, gloomy weather and the extra financial pressures from Christmas can be very stressful.
Adding to this some people commit to a New Year’s resolution. “New Year, New Me” is a phrase we are all familiar with.
But what exactly is a New Year’s resolution?
Each year, traditionally, people make a promise to themselves to change something for the year ahead. Some of us, for example, will commit to eating healthier, take on new exercise regimes, or be better with our money. The list of New Year’s resolutions is endless, and very personal to each of us and our goals.
Research shows that the third week of January is when many people may struggle with maintaining their New Year’s resolutions, adding to that notion of ‘Blue Monday’.
Perhaps the resolutions aren’t the problem; it’s how most of us go about setting them that can lead us to struggle to keep them going. Making one grand sweeping goal is quite often unrealistic. Small, actionable goals are always better than intimidating, abstract ones. Making smaller, more manageable goals makes it easier to track progress and reward yourself. This can help you stay motivated.
Let’s take a look at some realistic financial resolutions and where to begin:
New Year… sustainable financial resolutions
Perhaps, you have committed this year to take control of your personal finances?
What small steps can we take to help keep us on track for our financial New Year resolutions? Here are a few ideas that might help you start and more importantly keep going.
- Create a budget: Start by determining how much money you have coming in and going out each month. This will give you a clear picture of your financial situation and help make a plan for managing your money. It is important to remember that life is full of challenges and changes that impact our budgets. So, commit to review and change your budget as you need, rather than giving up on your plan altogether if things change for you. You can check out our handy budgeting tool on mabs.ie to get started.
- Planning for Christmas 2023: Yes, it seems too early now to think about Christmas 2023, however, January is the best time to reflect on Christmas 2022 to calculate how much you spent. Checking bank statements now or adding up receipts you have will help you estimate how much you will need to save for Christmas 2023. This will allow you to start saving from February 2023, giving you 10 or 11 months to spread the cost. Check out our top tips when it comes to planning for Christmas.
- Be realistic and kind to yourself in your budget: It is common to be really strict when designing your budget and looking at changes to make. This could mean you decide to cut out treats and other discretionary spending. While this might seem like a good idea to increase your savings, it is unlikely you will keep going with a budget that is very strict.
It’s important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself a treat every now and then. An important part of any budget is self-care; however, it is often the expense that many of us will cut out when making savings. The lack of something to look forward to can often be the reason our budgets feel like a punishment rather than a tool. Making sure to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally is crucial to our well-being. This can include things like exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Make time for things you enjoy. Whether it’s listening to music, reading a book, or taking a walk, make sure to set aside time to do things that bring you pleasure and make you happy.
Start small and look after you!
Small changes are best to make when it comes to your money habits. They are easier to achieve, and it is more likely you could keep them going longer. Maybe look for ways to cut back on expenses that are not essential first. For example, you could cancel subscriptions or memberships that you no longer use or need. When it comes to your finances, why not do a full health check with our Financial Health Check tool.
Search for local activities that are fun and free
Most communities around Ireland have a free walking group, or Parkrun and some have free outdoor exercise classes. Or if you prefer activities alone, there are many free online classes you can sign up to. The best thing about free classes, is that if it’s not for you, you won’t have lost money.
Finally, remember you don’t have to do everything at once.
There’s a lot you can do to improve your financial health by taking one step at a time and think of these resolutions as a checklist. Make some real progress on your journey this year.
If you’d like to do some additional reading or learn more about budgeting, visit our page on How to Budget.
If you would like some help, support or advice, please reach out.
Call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, or request a callback if you want to talk confidentially about budgeting, problem debt or general financial matters. Don’t forget to follow MABS on Facebook, Instagram., or Twitter.