Each month we reflect on our financial lives because it helps us be more intentional with our financial well-being. We hope that by opening up the conversation, we can break down the social stigma around talking about money. Check out the rest of the series here.
We go through changes in our lives that require us to reassess what we want to spend our money on. For me there have been two changes: investing in my mental health and this three month US road trip. I don’t spend money on mental health, but recently I realized I needed help. Also with our road trip coming up, money will leaving my bank account a lot quicker than I’m used to. I sat down and looked at how to manage my expenses so I wouldn’t overspend.
Health & Wellness
A gym membership is an expense I am willing to spend money on because it’s beneficial for my physical health. I got into strength training in the last year of college and fell in love with it. It allowed me to focus on improving my form and strength, take my mind off of things, and relieve some stress. After graduating from college, I got a gym membership near work, which was super convenient.
When it came to other parts of self-care, I was frugal. For the longest time, I wanted to see a counselor or therapist but there were obstacles in my way. One, there are limited resources in Taiwan for mental health specialists. Two, the cost of online counseling was out of my budget. Three, my brain was skeptical in how helpful counseling would be. But recently, I decided to take that leap of faith for the sake of my own mental health and spend the money on counseling.
In the past, I thought I could figure things out on my own, learn to cope with stress and anxiety, and de-tangle my brain. It turns out I can’t. At some point it’s better to ask for help. It’s not my strong suit, so this was a big step for me. In a way, it was sort of a desperation I felt within me to try anything that could help, no matter the cost. I’m glad I finally saw the value in getting help. It still hurts me a little inside seeing a chunk of money leave my bank account, but I try to reassure myself that it’ll be worth it.
Budgeting For the Road Trip
I approached planning this trip by creating budgets for each category. Most of the budget will go towards lodging and transportation and the rest will be allocated for groceries, eating out, entertainment, clothing, personal care, and other miscellaneous things. Deciding how much to budget for each category required some thinking. First, I looked at where I would rather spend money on. Experiences on this trip are important to me, so I allocated more money to entertainment. This will include things like museum tickets, white water rafting, and permits for hikes. Second, to cut down on costs, we’ll be cooking more on the road than eating out.
I usually keep track of how I’m doing by inputing my expenses for the day into each category, making a note of how much I spent, and being aware of how much I have left to spend. It also helps me decide what is worth spending on if I know I’m low in that category.
Sticking to my budget will be interesting because even though I choose how to spend my money, this isn’t a solo trip. It’ll be about finding the balance between friends who have different spending limits and making sure that the experience is memorable and fun for everyone.