5 Ways to Feel Rich Even When You're Broke, According to a Financial Therapist

You know the feeling — you had a rough week and all you want to do is treat yourself, be it to a fancy dinner or some online shopping. If you're a recent graduate and have your first job, your first "adult" paycheck might feel like it's burning a hole in your pocket. I mean, you finally have money to spend! But, realistically, there's rent, student loans, and other bills to think about, not to mention saving (gasp). So, how do you handle your money without feeling extremely stressed and while still getting to treat yourself once in a while? Amanda Clayman, Financial Therapist and Prudential's Financial Wellness Advocate, has some ideas.

  1. 1. Spend at least one hour a month on looking at your finances, instead of putting out fires as bills pop up.

    “Build a regular practice or routine for life management, instead of ignoring things and then having to put out fires. So many of my young adult clients only look at money when something is going wrong. This sets up a terrible emotional link that can lead to entrenched money avoidance over time. But even spending one hour a month on money can make a huge difference. We see what parts of our financial lives are predictable and reliable, making it easier to spot things that need our attention. We know the answers to questions that might keep us up at night if they pop into our heads — "what is my student loan rate again? did I pay that bill?” — Also, we don't have to respond to every errant stressful thought, because we know that we have already set aside time to deal with it next week.”

  2. 2. Don’t stress splurge now and regret it later.  

    “Keep an eye on emotional spending. Are you the one who rallies everyone to go out after you've had a tough week at work, and then you regret your supersize bar tab? You may be craving emotional connection with others. Find a way to meet this need by having a good talk with your roommate or going for a run with a friend, instead of linking it to something that will cause you to overspend. Same for buying a new top when you feel nervous about a date, or online shopping when you're stressed or bored. Notice the underlying feelings, feel them, find a healthy way to respond to them instead of spending your way out of a mood.”


  3. 3. Say it with me now: Talk about money.

    “Talk about it! Money can seem very taboo, but I know from my clients, and even in my own experience, that most of the time others are really glad when someone else breaks the ice. Ask your friends if they have budgeting apps or practices that work for them. Gather a group that is interested in fun low-cost outings and have someone plan a new activity each month. You might even start a money book club. Whatever works. The idea is just to identify people in your life who are interested in being financially healthy and bring them together for mutual support.”

  4. 4. Be mindful and you’ll feel more in control of your life.

    “Have a plan! It doesn't even have to be frugal or rigid. But aligning your financial behavior with your values, living intentionally, creates a sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem. Even when we are dealing with circumstances or obligations (like a much-despised student loan), by mindfully carrying out that responsibility we have the opportunity to work through our feelings, make supporting plans, and feel in control of our lives. Being mindful and creating a plan will help further that control we’re seeking when it comes to our finances,” Clayman said.

  5. 5. If you want to splurge, do it like this. 

    “You can build splurges into your spending plan. But even a splurge that busts your budget could still help you learn more about what works (or doesn't) about the way you have your money organized or what your needs really are. Just make sure to take a square look at the splurge afterward and be honest with yourself without being punitive. And take steps to get yourself back on track.”