We recently read an article that discussed the link between materialism and mental health problems. The research showed that practicing gratitude can help curb materialism, which in turn could improve your mental health.
But if you feel stuck or like you don’t have a lot to be thankful for, think again. Here are 10 easy things you can start doing today to better yourself. At first glance, you might not think they are personal finance-related, but you’ll see the connection at the end.
1. Make A Budget.
It should come as no surprise that we think making a budget will dramatically improve your life. For one, you’ll be able to rest better at night knowing that you have more money in the bank in case of an emergency.
Building and sticking to a budget will also give you confidence because you’ll prove to yourself that you have the ability to set a goal and follow through with it. A win-win.
2. Pick Something That You Find Interesting And Make It A New Hobby
If you think painting with watercolors, playing the piano, or gardening seem really fun, try them. And then make them a new hobby.
This will be an outlet which will allow you to decompress from the pressures of work and everyday life. It might be just what you need to find balance.
3. Open A High-Yield Savings Account
Traditional banks basically give you nothing for holding your money in a savings account. But a high-yield savings account like Marcus, Varo, or Ally can give around 2% annual interest.
That’s a whole lot better than a fraction of a penny. Even if it won’t meaningfully change your life, just remember that small amounts will add up over the long-term. Let your money work for you!
4. Take 5 Deep Breaths
Setting aside 90 seconds to take 5 deep controlled breaths is so easy. But so effective.
Research shows that taking deep breaths can help reduce stress and anxiety, which means you’ll be able to focus on the things that actually matter.
So before you read the next thing, just stop and take a breath. It'll help you improve your mindful spending, one of our favorite life hacks!
5. Do Simple Exercises Daily
Wake up and do 10 pushups. Or go for a walk. Maybe you can even throw in some body-weight squats.
It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something. The human body is world-class at adapting to what you throw at it.
If all it does is sit in front of a screen, then it’ll become world-class as sitting and doing nothing. Don’t let your body do that.
You’ll want to be able to get down on the ground to play Legos with your grandkids when you are 70 years old, so make sure you stay active now.
6. Write Down A Few Things You’ve Been Putting Off And Schedule Time To Do Them.
If you’ve needed to replace the battery on your smoke detector, get an oil change, or visit your grandma you might feel too busy to get around to them this week.
But there’s an easy way to get those things done: make time for them. So if you don't have a Roth IRA yet, go ahead and schedule time to open one.
Go in your calendar, or make one if you don’t have one (we like Google’s calendar), and block off the time to get those things done. It will allow you to not worry about a mounting list of things to do. Or having to remember what has to get done.
7. Make A Grocery List – And Use It
Going to the grocery store with a plan is the #1 way to save money while shopping. Yes, buying promotional things on sale will save you money too, but going in without a plan will lead you to buy things you don’t need.
Having a plan for the meals you’ll make will also allow you to be more healthy. So better health, a thinner waist, and a fatter wallet are well worth it to have a weekly or biweekly grocery list.
8. Floss Your Teeth Daily
Taking care of your health will mean you’ll save money on dental and health expenses, but it’ll also improve the quality of your life.
Flossing is the best way to take care of your gums and get to the hard to reach places that your toothbrush simply can’t get to.
Our old dentist used to joke with us that we should only floss the teeth we wanted to keep. Now that we’ve seen other people who have huge dental problems due to not flossing, we know what she meant.
9. Call Your Loved Ones
Rihanna was onto something with her work, work, work, work song. After all, it’s the only thing that some people can think about.
But working hard to pay the bills won’t bring you any happiness if you don’t have loved ones to build meaningful relationships with.
So take a minute to call your loved ones more regularly. It’s the relationships that we have with one another that fill life and bring it meaning. Don’t lose sight of that.
10. Forgive Yourself And Learn From Past Mistakes
When it comes to personal finance, or life in general, it’s impossible to be perfect. We even shared 8 Money Mistakes We’ve Made so you could see that we’ve also made less than perfect money decisions.
Bonus: Open An IRA
You have until tax day (April 15) to fund your IRA or Roth IRA for LAST year! Take a few minutes to open an IRA at Fidelity or Vanguard. The sooner you start saving for retirement the better.
You might be wondering why it seems like many of these things aren’t related to personal finance. But they are.
You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to make smart money decisions. That means you need a healthy foundation (both physically and emotionally) before you can really focus on how to take control of your financial situation.
You can do this. We believe in you.