The stress we put on ourselves to make enough money and save enough money can help us reach our goals — but it can also take a serious toll on our mental wellbeing.
And if sticking to every single rule is giving us anxiety, enjoying the fruits of our labor can be marred by this overexertion of our emotional resources.
That’s why we believe there are times you should break the rules, without shirking responsibilities. Here are some financial rules that might be destroying your mental health:
Breakable Rule No. 1. You Should Live With Roommates While Paying Off Debt
Rent is a paycheck drainer, there’s no doubt about that. It’s usually the largest slice of your monthly budget, so living with roommates can help bring that cost down.
But living with the wrong roommates can make you go crazy. Fights over labeled food, guests overstaying their welcome and weird smells coming from their room can make you wonder if it’s worth the savings.
Yet, it is possible to spend a little more to live on your own, save your sanity and still pay down your debts.
A website called Fiona could help you pay off that credit card bill as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona can help you borrow up to $250,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 2.49% and terms from 6 to 144 months.
Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.
Breakable Rule No. 2. Cut Costs By Cancelling Your Netflix, Hulu and Spotify Accounts
How much are you spending on all your subscriptions each month?
Just kidding, don’t answer that question. The real question is this: how much joy do your subscriptions bring you?
The answer is likely a lot. Baking shows relax us, “Tiger King” brought people together during a dark year and watching a good comedy at the end of the day can take our minds off of our problems for an hour and a half.
So before you say “no” when Netflix asks if you’re still watching, find other places to save money that won’t take away your oddly calming murder shows.
One expense that definitely won’t hurt your heart to cut is your car insurance. When was the last time you even checked prices?
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money.
Use a website called EverQuote to see all your options at once.
EverQuote is the largest online marketplace for insurance in the US, so you’ll get the top options from more than 175 different carriers handed right to you.
Take a couple of minutes to answer some questions about yourself and your driving record. With this information, EverQuote will be able to give you the top recommendations for car insurance. In just a few minutes, you could save up to $610 a year.
Breakable Rule No. 3. Make All Your Food From Scratch to Save Money
Baking a beautiful cake for your friend’s birthday or pureeing your own baby food can make you feel like you’re saving money — and sometimes you are.
But the time it takes to chop all your vegetables for a bolognese sauce is lost time you could be spending with your partner or reading a good book. Is it really worth the couple of bucks saved?
If getting half an hour back every day is worth it to you, go treat yourself to pre-chopped onions and jars of pureed carrot. You deserve it! And you also deserve to make some money back.
A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying tomato sauce and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something…
Breakable Rule No. 4. DIY Everything at Home
Pricy home services you could do yourself: lawn care, house cleaning, laundry, dog baths.
Pricy home services that give you hours back to your life if you pay someone to do it for you: lawn care, house cleaning, laundry, dog baths.
Time is money. The time you save letting a professional handle your least favorite chores is time you have earned back for yourself.
You could spend a whole Saturday scrubbing your floors and dusting your fan blades — or you could be having a picnic with friends in the park. Or taking a nap. It’s your time back, you do what you want with it.
So don’t feel guilty about spending a little bit of money each month to have someone wash your car. Budget it in and enjoy your well-deserved time off.
Breakable Rule No. 5. Never Splurge on Non-Essential Items
We know, we know, the best things in life are free. But have you ever dreamed about rewarding yourself with a pair of strappy Louboutin stilettos after reaching a goal you set for yourself? (writer’s note: Yes. Yes I very specifically have had this dream.)
But when a single pair of shoes you’ll wear once a year costs the same as a month’s worth of food, it’s probably easier to bury that dream in the dark depths of your empty shoe closet.
There is a way to make it happen, though. The same way you save for a vacation or a house — set up a savings account with that one goal in mind. Factor monthly deposits into your budget the way you would any savings goal. $10 here, $20 there — eventually it’ll add up.
If you’re looking for a place to safely stash this shoe money away — but still earn money on it — put it in an Aspiration account. It lets you earn up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account (the average 0.06% from other accounts is nothing these days).
Plus, if you use the debit card, you can earn up to 5% cash back on purchases.
Those red-bottomed shoes are closer than you think!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
Breakable Rule No. 6. Sell All Your Unwanted Housewares, Clothes and Toys
You’ve likely acquired quite a bit of stuff in your time on Earth. And maybe your spring cleaning got a bit out of hand, and you have piles of things you no longer need.
The relief you feel in purging is quickly ruined by the realization you need to somehow sell all of it to make money back. Where do you start? Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, Craigstlist, a garage sale… Ugh!
Unless something is truly worth the money, you don’t need to sell everything. The stress you could build up trying to list everything and arrange meet ups and negotiate prices might not be something you need right now.
So give it away. Drop it all off at a donation center (don’t forget the tax credit!), list fun items on your local Buy Nothing Facebook group or even host a free yard sale!
Financial rules sometimes need to be broken if they’re affecting your mental health. Now, this doesn’t mean making bad decisions in the name of a good time — consider this our permission to give yourself a break with all the strict must-dos and find a healthier workaround for you and your wallet.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She believes mental health >>>>