When you are planning out your annual budget, chances are pretty good you’re forgetting a much-needed category.
“No, I’m not!” you’re thinking to yourself. You’ve covered all the basics such as rent, bills, car payments, etc. But the crucial category you need to add to your yearly financial plan during midlife is joy.
Yes, joy. You need to be adding a “joy” category to your annual – nay, monthly – budget. We’re not talking about buying a great pair of jeans or something else you’ve been eyeing in a display window. We’re talking about a seemingly (to other people, maybe) frivolous purchase, adventure, or trip that is all for YOU.
It can be whatever your heart desires – the thing you budget for is not only essential for your mental and physical health but for happiness.
Why You Should Budget For Joy
Experts from financial coaches to mental health and life coaches agree that budgeting for joy, especially in midlife and beyond, is a necessity.
Here’s why, according to Suggest:
It Optimizes Feeling Good
“We grew up with the ‘women are expected to do it all mentality,’” says Jen Lawrence, a certified master life coach and financial analyst. Most of us were so busy juggling parenting, working, and volunteering that we had little time, money, or energy to do what we loved.”
“Women in their 50s and beyond often feel financially and energetically squeezed as they balance the complex needs of their young adult children and elderly parents,” she continues. “Marriages and jobs may not bring you the same joy they once did. If you do not build joy into your life, you can go for days, weeks, or months without doing anything that you love.
“Midlife and beyond is a chance to make joy a part of our lives. Happy people are healthy people, and budgeting for joy is as important for our health as budgeting for healthy food, medical appointments, and gym memberships. By including things that make us happy in our budgets, we are normalizing the importance of feeling good.”
It Strengthens Resiliency
Earmarking funds for joy also aids us in periods of our lives where we don’t feel good or are in a rut.
“This can create feelings of loneliness and sadness, which are not helpful for mental well-being. In fact, this is how many people go on to develop depression or anxiety. Creating positive emotional experiences related to joy can enhance mental well-being and reduce stress.
“Working to reduce symptoms related to anxiety and depression can make life feel as though you are just getting by,” Cavallaro continues. “On the other hand, by creating rewarding and meaningful experiences, you can go from surviving to thriving.”
It Helps Us Remember To Value Ourselves And Those Around Us
Is budgeting for joy a selfish act? Not at all! In fact, it is thoughtful and beneficial to others in your life.
“Joy is contagious, and it will be shared,” says Robin Shear, public speaker and joy coach. “Whenever we have joy in our buckets, we have something to give from, making the prioritization of joy a very giving thing.”
Furthermore, it rebels against the societal devaluation of women over the age of 40.
“Older women have a lot to offer, but they often struggle with the idea that they are worth less than their younger counterparts,” Monica Miner, a mental health counselor, explains.
“Many older women feel undervalued because society doesn’t see them as capable of doing what a younger woman can do,” Miner continues. This is fundamentally not true, and adding joy to your budget confirms it.
It Keeps Things Exciting
Last but not least, budgeting for joy keeps life interesting and spontaneous. It’s common to fall into a pattern of mundane daily activities – and while those activities are necessary, it’s also boring — and not at all beneficial to upkeep in your mental and physical health and general well-being during and after midlife.
“Participating in fun activities, as well as learning something new, can help you to feel better physically and mentally. Ongoing learning helps to improve memory and offset dementia,” Cavallaro explains.
What’s Your Version Of Joy?
Whatever joy-inducing investments you choose, it’s imperative. Take a class you’ve always wanted to take, learn to cook, take a trip, take dancing lessons, or go scuba diving!
The possibilities are endless if you find that thing that sparks joy. When you find out what that spark is and it ignites joy, hold onto it and don’t let go.
Shear suggests a few questions to determine what sparks your joy:
“Is it relationships with people she cares about? Budgeting a few dollars to take a loved one out for ice cream and great conversation is a fantastic money move.” Additionally, “Does she find joy in the way movement makes her feel? Does she find joy in generosity? It’s a fun idea to have a giving fund ready and waiting to dip into when ideas bubble up.”
We love the idea of adding a joy category into our annual budget! Tell us if you agree in the comments.
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