What sort of activities do you envision when you hear the words “self-care?”
Maybe it’s a walk in the woods or meditation? A day at the spa or a round of golf? Playing with the kids or taking a vacation. Catching up on your favorite shows?
Sure, these activities can provide relief from anxiety and stress. But one part of the self-care equation that doesn’t get mentioned often is taking care of your money.
Why Veterinarians Need Self-Care
First, why the need for self-care?
This stems from feeling overwhelmed, overworked and burned out. Our busy days are crammed with a lot of competing obligations – work, family, loved ones. We tend to put ourselves last on the list because, of course, everything else takes precedence.
This is especially true for veterinarians. This profession is full of compassionate and empathetic people who have a passion for helping those who have no voice. This constant desire to help others can naturally lead to compassion fatigue and burnout.
Try adding financial stress on top of the everyday stress we encounter in our personal and professional lives.
How many times have you looked at your credit card bill and felt your heart race a little faster? How about those student loan balances? Your retirement account? Daycare bills? Does thinking about money give you a sense of relief and security, or do you feel panicked?
Want to go on that nice vacation or join that health club, both considered self-care activities? If you haven’t budgeted for these items, then you could find yourself feeling even more anxious every time the next credit card bill arrives.
Whether we like it or not, money plays a big part in our decisions and how we choose to live our lives.
There is an unmistakable link between our financial wellness and general well-being. It’s not a difficult concept: feeling financially stressed directly affects well-being because so many aspects of our lives depend on financial stability. The Merck Veterinary Well-being Study clearly shows that money-related factors, like student debt and low income, are correlated with a lower well-being score.
Being financially healthy does NOT mean that you have millions in the bank. It means that you are spending within your means and you have a plan that allows you to feel confident about achieving your goals. You may be deep in student debt, but having a plan to pay them back in the most cost-efficient manner can provide incredible peace of mind. You may still be in the process of saving for home, but if you’re confident that you’re budgeting properly so that you will have that down payment ready to go in 2 years, your financial health is better than the person who buys too much house too soon and finds themselves stretched to the limit with their mortgage payments.
Invest in Yourself
You may have thought that investing in yourself meant going deep into debt to attain your veterinary degree.
News flash: your educational debt was just the beginning. Now YOU are the asset. Your veterinary degree gave you the ticket to use your talents and resources to produce income as a veterinarian. It is now your job to not only practice veterinary medicine but to also make sure your income can provide you the life you’ve always envisioned for yourself. This will require intentionality and purpose.
You have worked so hard to get to where you are right now. Don’t blow your chance to take care of your money. Learn how to optimize your finances so that you’re making the most out of what you have, instead of working harder for the same results. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money by making this a priority.
How to Start
Getting your financial ducks in a row isn’t difficult. It is truly an investment in yourself.
One of the first steps is to organize your finances. Understand how much you owe by listing all of your debt, including the current balances, interest rates and your monthly payments. Next, list all of your assets: how much you have in your bank accounts and your investment accounts?
Now that you know your numbers, you can start making short and long term money goals. Examples include: fully funding your emergency fund, having a debt payoff plan, and planning for retirement. Making a cohesive plan will motivate you to use your money as a tool to achieve your money and life goals.
Learning how to take care of your money should not be a dreaded chore that falls low on your priority list. It is another form of self-care. Your ability to properly manage your own money will touch every aspect of your life. Feeling secure and confident with your finances will allow you the freedom to pursue all of those other areas of self-care that have been neglected. Make sure you include financial wellness in your self-care plan.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Grace Kim is the founder of Richer Life DVM, a blog that promotes financial wellness for veterinarians. Outside of working and spending time with her husband and 3 children, she enjoys running and traveling.