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If there’s one topic I wish people talked about more in the personal finance world, it’s mental health.
The two are deeply connected. Our mental health can greatly impact our financial lives, and vice-versa. On top of that, getting what we need to take care of our mental health usually costs money. Adequate mental health care isn’t financially accessible for everyone. Even people who can afford it need to work it into their budget, and possibly make sacrifices elsewhere, to stay financially secure.
After losing income in the months following the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve decided to keep my spending to a minimum for the rest of the year. This will help me rebuild my emergency fund and stash away some extra money in case my income takes another hit.
Despite cutting back on my overall spending, I’m actually increasing my spending on my own mental health. I’ve decided to budget for therapy this year — here’s why, and how.
Why I’m budgeting in therapy even though I want to keep my spending low
I’ve been to therapy off and on throughout a lot of my adult life, and it’s easily one of the best tools for stabilizing and improving my mental health. In fact, I recommend therapy to everyone I know, regardless of whether or not they’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness.
This year hasn’t been great for my mental health — and I’m sure many can relate to that. It’s important for me to keep my spending low this year, but it’s even more important for me to take care of myself. Therapy is crucial in that regard, so, I’m finding ways to fit it into my budget without increasing my spending too much by making some sacrifices and taking advantage of affordable therapy options.
Whenever I think to myself, “I can’t afford to go to therapy,” a clever voice in my head responds, “You can’t afford to not go to therapy.” Mental illness and financial problems go hand-in-hand. I know that, personally, when my mental health declines, my finances do too. I get less work done, so I make less money. On top of that, I lose motivation, so I’m more likely to give up on financial goals and spend money impulsively to try and make myself feel better.
Being in a good headspace, on the other hand, means I’m more productive — and as someone who is self-employed, this productivity directly impacts my income. In that sense, therapy is an investment in my own mental health that pays off in the long run.
That being said, I see taking care of myself as a non-negotiable, and not just because it helps me be productive or make money. Even if I didn’t think going to therapy would pay off in a financial sense, it will still be worth it, because I take my own health and well-being seriously.