Women’s Guide to Planning and Budgeting

How much, when and especially … why 

There’s so much emotion and psychology tied up with money management. Even our language tells the tale: retail therapy, shop till you drop, treat yourself to something (because you deserve it). All too often this type of language is directed at women, which leads to stereotyping that women are over-spenders.

According to experts, our feelings around spending money to uplift our status, our fears of not having enough money leading us to over-save and even our guilt over having too much money have their origins in our subconscious formed in the childhood or teen years. In short, knowing our money script or money personality helps us understand how we feel about money management and what problems these feelings may cause in our lives — including hoarding money, not investing enough and overspending. That’s where SmartHER Planning comes in.   

The SmartHER Money Planning Challenge 

Of course, most spending is not for discretionary expenses — money going to things we want rather than need. But our spending habits related to discretionary expenses can have a huge impact on our financial well-being — affecting debt, bill-paying, credit rating, savings and more.  

Some of the same basics that apply to saving money apply here: making and sticking to a budget, tracking expenses, planning for unexpected expenses, making tough choices and careful decisions. But with spending money, we have to recognize its outsized role in our financial well-being as well as our mental health. If you find yourself swimming in bad debt (some types of debt are good), you are not alone and by taking the right steps you can overcome it. SmartHER Money is not about blame and judgment; we’re about women-to-women support and positive action!

Managing Debt, Controlling & Tracking Expenses

Debt is not a four-letter word … well, it does have four letters, but it’s not all bad. It simply means you owe someone money. Debt is a form of spending: You get something upfront that you pay for after the fact. A loan is a debt, for example. A mortgage is a debt that helps most people obtain a home — and when you pay mortgage payments every month on time it helps build your credit rating. 

Where you can get into trouble is by having high-interest debt you can’t afford to pay back. The most common forms are credit card and payday lender debts but certain student loans and unconventional home mortgages and auto loans may put you in deeper debt. 

Too much debt can lead to negative consequences like legal problems, foreclosure, seizure of possessions or bankruptcy. Since most debt comes with additional interest expense, paying off your highest interest debts as soon as possible helps ensure your money goes where it’s needed most — like building an emergency fund so you can borrow from yourself interest-free for unexpected expenses. 

Money Management and Mental Health

Once you know how and why you spend money in ways that may not be beneficial in the long run, you can learn ways to step back from the temptations and short-lived benefits. Knowledge is power. Take some time to learn about your emotional relationship with money. It will help you improve your saving habits, reduce discretionary expenses and stick to your financial plan. 

There is also great joy in accomplishing your debt-reduction goals and watching your investments grow. And being financially fit and secure has great mental health benefits. Some women are choosing to live a simpler life, learning to live in the moment and enjoying the simple pleasures in life that are free — like taking a hike in nature, planning a family staycation and indulging in a spa day at home culminating with a hot bath and a glass of wine.

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