How to make a mindful money journal and a wellness planner
Can you believe the holidays are here already? My husband and I just moved to a tiny town in the mountains aways outside of Seattle and the day after Halloween, we watched all the little shops put up their Christmas wreaths and hang up lights in the windows. I feel like I'm living in a Hallmark movie. It's honestly my favorite time of year (I can't say that. They're all my favorite). Every winter, I let myself get swept up in a whirlwind of get-togethers and Christmas activities. My favorite part is going home for a week in December and it's like the outside world fades away and all you have to worry about is making good food, reading a good book by the fire, and catching up with family and friends. At least that's what I picture in my head.
In reality, the next two months can be a madhouse of last minute planning, redeye flights, stressful days and hard work. Add in the seasonal depression and getting dark at 4PM... It's not all lights and holiday wreaths. I have to be really intentional about make plans in the evenings when the sun starts going down this early. Turning on lots of lights, making hot drinks, going for walks in the crisp air, or just getting together with friends and family. It’s so good to have something to look forward to in the week - It's almost like you're tricking your brain into a better place by doing some things that lift your spirits. The idea is to set some intentions and protect any free time you can find so you save energy for the people in your life and all the good things this time of year can hold.
Planning things in the evenings really helps, but the other thing I struggle with this time of year is having a sense of intention around my spending, my fitness, my eating habits, and keeping up with friends. The days fly by and my mental upkeep just starts to slip. Too often I’ll find myself overspending, skipping my workouts, eating based on emotion or stress, or missing out on things because I overbooked. That pattern is all too familiar. If I'm not paying attention to how I'm treating my mind and my body, I wake up feeling depressed, under satisfied, and out of sorts. Don't get me wrong, it is GOOD to say no sometimes, and to sleep in or treat yourself, but it's when I start to use this time of year as an excuse that I start to lose my sense of routine and self. What feels good in the moment isn't always what feels good afterwards and if we aren’t taking care of ourselves it’s almost impossible to care for others around us. Mental health is so important, and I'm starting to understand how much mine affects the people around me and my work as well. I want to do my best not to let it slip.
So this year, I'm trying something different. I'm taking my open dated planner from Eco Collective, and I'm turning those page spreads into some self care structures - a mindful money journal, a wellness planner, and a way to keep track of time with friends and the craziness at work. Doing this exercise now is like creating a physical reminder of the things I want to maintain, and the ways I hope to use my time, and I'm hoping it sets me up to feel more myself this winter.
Here's what I'm doing with my planner this month:
- A mindful money journal because I don't want to overdo my spending on gifts and food, and I know I need to stay on budget.
- A wellness journal because I've been putting a lot of energy into getting strong and feeling good this year, and I want to honor that. I'll definitely dig into the treats and go a little easier on myself when I'm busy or traveling, but I want to keep doing things that make me feel good. Exercise is such a big de-stressor!
- A friendship calendar because I'm trying to make it a priority to pour more attention into my friendships this year. Plus, we want to have people out to the new house and we gotta get the dates straightened out for trips home.
- A project planner because it'll be my saving grace - the holidays can be a frenzy when you're running a small business and I want to stay on top of my game. I've noticed this year how much my mental health affects my work and I'm putting my all into taking care of it.
Are you with me? Let's make some planner spreads!
1. How to make a wellness planner
I am so excited about putting together sone workout ideas, meal planning, and health reminders for the coming months. I'm not the type to adhere to these too strictly, but it's more about creating the intentions so I have them at the front of my mind when I plan my day and go about my week. For example, if I find a good workout on YouTube or a new recipe on Pinterest and pencil it in for the day I want to try it, I'll be way more inclined to make it happen then if I have a vague goal of "eating healthy" or "working out."
Here's how I'm gonna use my planner as a wellness planner:
- Make a meal plan with dinner ideas for each week and write where you found the recipe (if applicable) - ie Butternut squash lasagna (Pinterest)
- Fill in some specific exercise ideas for each week - ie "Go for a run in x neighborhood or at x park" or "do the HIIT workout by x on YouTube"
- Include your health appointments and important reminders on the month calendar - like doing a breast exam, booking a dentist appointment or picking up your prescription.
- You could also track your period - outline the phases of your cycle in your planner, chart your temperatures or log any PMS symptoms.
2. How to make a mindful money journal
Financial self care is so important, but it rarely ever feels like self care. It's much more common to dread looking at your finances. I have found that a spreadsheet really doesn't work for me - I’ve started making these journal entries that outline where I'm at each month, record money coming in and money going out, and make space for planning and writing down commitments to where you hope to be in six months or a year. Making a mindful money journal isn’t a magic fix, but for me it's made it a little easier to face your finances and get real about your intentions.
Here's an example of what my mindful money journal entry might look like each month:
- Start by cataloguing money coming in
- Write down where any debt is at
- Notate any big expenses coming up - rent, medical bills, groceries, car maintenance, etc.
- Commit a certain amount towards your bills and some towards paying off debt if you can
- See what you can tuck away into savings or an emergency fund
- Outline your budgets for each category. Frequency you're comfortable with eating out or getting coffee, amount you can spend on groceries, any essentials you need to pick up.
Disclaimers: I want to recognize my privilege when speaking about this topic, and state that I can't advise on finance but for mindful and empowering financial advice I love Tori Dunlap and @moneybossmama on Instagram.
How to make a mindful money journal in your planner:
- Schedule a Money Date to check in once or twice a month, and save some pages in the back to make your mindful money entries
- Enter your bills on the appropriate dates each month
- Track your daily expenses each week, so you can spend with intention
- Build a budget with specific categories
- Use the blank pages to keep track of financial goals - whether it's paying off debt, creating an emergency fund, or saving for retirement
- Make it your own - find a system that works for you so you'll stick with it!
3. Make a career journal
A career journal can be such a cool way to keep track of things you're learning or big ideas, and it can become a catalyst for where you want to go next. Whether you're taking a class, networking with your colleagues, or just some big meetings coming up, keep those notes in one spot so that each step enriches the next. Keep track of your appointments, write down contact information or details, and take freeform notes in the back.
Another way to use the open dated planner at work is for project management. You can jot down big deadlines, schedule meetings, and add reminders in the monthly sections. The weekly spreads are perfect for keeping your to do list or outlining your top priorities for the day.
Ways to use your planner as a career journal
- Outline your ideas and map out action items
- Write down your priorities and tasks for each day
- Keep track of big deadlines
- Set career goals
- Write down what you're learning and any research you're doing
- Take notes
4. Deepen your friendships with a social planner
The holidays can be such a busy time, and it's all too easy to get out of touch or say "See you in January!" but that can also leave you feeling lonely or isolated when things don't line up. It's a hard time of year already because of the stress and lower light levels, and it's so important to reach out to loved ones and make sure to check in and get together from time to time. You never know when someone is struggling.
I've been making it a priority to pour as much energy as I can into my friendships of late, and it has been so sweet to be able to host again now that we're in a bigger space. At the end of the day, it's relationships that matter the most in life and they’re what light the way.
One thing I've been doing is setting reminders to check in with friends, especially those who live farther away, and it has lead to some of the best catching up and conversations. I've been filling any free space in my calendar with friend time, usually revolving around food or the outdoors, and keeping track of those dages in my physical planner so I can think ahead and pack or prep (and not double book!!)
How to use your open dated planner as a social calendar:
- Cultivate your friendships by planning ahead
- Set reminders to call your friends and check in
- Keep track of weekend plans or weeknight activities
- See your free time and sprinkle in some friend time
- Write down any travel plans and trip dates
Whatever this time of year looks like for you, I hope you’re holding your friends and family close and taking care of yourself with intention. Happy, happy holidays my friends.
PS - I promised to share some sample spreads so I’ll add those here - check back soon!