For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the theme is Reconnecting with the people and places that lift you up.

This got us thinking about how the way we manage our money can work for or against our wellbeing.

Here at Sorted, we’re all about investing in your future and managing your money responsibly. But we also believe in investing in yourself.

To build a sustainable plan and be successful in your long-term saving goals, you’ll need to find the right balance between looking after yourself and looking after your wallet.

Connect with loved ones

Whānau and friends can be a huge source of meaning in our lives. They give us a reason to work hard, look after ourselves and get through the hard days.

They’re also a major reason behind our savings goals. We save for a house because we want a place to fill with memories, where whānau and friends can gather and turn it into a home.

Rachel, 26, recently left New Zealand for a month-long trip around Europe. She says a critical part of her saving in the lead up to this was allowing herself to spend (sensibly) on socialising.

“As long as I did a couple of fun outings a week – dinner, a coffee date, or the movies, I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing too much to achieve my saving goals.

“I just made sure the things I was doing were sensible spending. You don’t need to have two glasses of wine with every meal. Have one, or a water.”

Taking time to look after these relationships and connect with those we love is not only important for our mental health, but also for motivating us to reach our financial goals.

Take that trip

We all know overseas travel can be expensive. Between flights, accommodation, insurance and activities, the savers among us might tremble at the thought of how our bank balance might fall.

But travel and holidays have an incredible way of refreshing us, getting us outside our comfort zone and offering a fresh perspective on life.

Rachel says while her trip to Europe was expensive, she has no regrets and has learnt lessons she’ll take forward for years.

“I love seeing new things, tasting new things, trying new things... for me you can’t put a price on that. So it’s definitely worth the money, as long as you do your research too.”

“Travelling gives you new perspectives and realisations on the world, the people in it, your own place, and how small we are. It helps put things in your own life in perspective.”

Spend time on an activity that feeds your soul

Factoring some money into your budget to keep up your favourite hobbies will also leave you better off in the long run.

This could be an exercise class, going fishing, getting a massage or another activity that makes you happy. Hobbies help reduce stress and if they include some physical activity, even better.

The key here is budgeting for these things, so you know what you can afford and don’t find yourself going overboard or slipping into overdraft.

How will you feel about this in a week, month or year?

Ultimately, the goal is to manage our spending to get the best possible emotional payoff.

It’s easy to be drawn to the high of retail therapy, especially when you’re not feeling your best, but this often doesn’t give you your best ‘bang for buck’.

Try to draw a line between the purchases that make you happy in the long run, and those that give you a short-term burst of endorphins and dopamine.

A good trick is to wait 24 hours before spending on anything that might be an ‘impulse purchase’. This gives you time to consider whether you really need it and recognise the difference between your emotional and logical mind.

What if I can’t afford to spend on my wellbeing?

These ideas all assume there’s some spare money left over after the bills are paid each week, but this isn’t the reality for all of us.

Financial stress significantly impacts wellbeing, so if your money situation feels out of control, getting your finances in order could be the best first step to improve your mental health.

Talking to someone about your situation and getting their advice can help to lighten the load.

They can help you to start to think of some concrete steps to improve your position, whether that be creating a budget, repaying your debts or asking for a pay rise.

Here’s some organisations that are available to provide financial help.

Be kind to yourself

Money and mental health will always be connected. The way we spend (or don’t spend) affects our emotional wellbeing, and our emotions affect our spending.

Prioritise looking after yourself – your wellbeing will always be your most valuable investment. At the end of the day, if you’re not happy and healthy, does anything else really matter?

Mental Health Awareness Week runs 26 September–2 October 2022.

Comments (0)

No one has commented on this page yet.