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My Emergency Sunshine Category and 12 Other Ways to Take Care of Yourself with YNAB

Ask not what you can do for your dollars, ask what your dollars can do for you.

It’s National Self-Care Day, and what better way to celebrate than by sharing the unique ways the YNAB team uses our spending plans for self-care? As they say, “Self-care is the best healthcare.” 

At YNAB, we believe money isn’t just a tool for paying bills; it’s a key player in our overall health, relationships, and future happiness. After all, true healthcare encompasses more than just doctor's visits and gummy vitamins—it’s about nurturing your overall health, relationships, and the “future you” who deserves just as much love and attention. 

And me? I'm living proof of this philosophy. I started prioritizing my mental and physical well being in my YNAB spending plan last year, with an "Emergency Sunshine" category as a remedy for the winter blues.

Winters in north Idaho can be harsh, with slate gray skies, and a thermometer that’s frankly disrespectful. This year, wind chills dipped to a frigid -30˚F. Ew! It was clearly a sign to treat my mom and myself to a much-needed break from the season’s icy grip. So, we jetted off for a sun-soaked escape, thanks to the funds I had set aside leading up to winter.

On January 15, 2023, deeply affected by the aptly named “SAD,” I set a yearly $2,000 spending target for January 15, 2024. YNAB automatically prompted me to set aside roughly $150 a month throughout 2023. The result? A stress-free getaway to Scottsdale, Arizona, which I’ve now embraced as my home away from home in winter.

Setting a spending target is one way to prioritize your wellbeing in YNAB.

With my "Emergency Sunshine" category funds, my mom and I indulged in a sun-soaked trip, filled with blue skies, long walks, and improved attitudes. Oh, and a whole lot of guilt-free guacamole. The joy in my mom’s eyes was priceless, and this experience reinforced my belief in financial self-care. This experience wasn’t just a trip; it was a testament to the power of priorities, allowing me to support my own health and my family’s happiness.

A sunny day in Scottsdale
A clear blue sky in January? Priceless.

What if you gave your money a spot on the podium right alongside health and relationships? It's not just currency; it’s a reflection of your hard work, dedication, and what matters to you. Every dollar in your plan represents a choice towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Enter: the YNAB team’s creative self-care categories

Our team takes self-care seriously, with some wonderfully creative ideas to boost joy:

  • Ben B: “My wife created 'Friend Meals' in her personal group to be more intentional about spending time with friends.”
  • April: “We have a ‘Friday Family Fun Fest’ category. It’s about more than take-out; it’s about fiercely protecting our family time.”
  • Lauren D: “AJ and I have a ‘Surprise Each Other’ category. It’s for those little treats that say ‘I’m thinking of you’.”
  • Kathleen: “I have a ‘Weekly Coffee Work Time’ category. It's my treat to work from a coffee shop and change up my routine.”
  • Kelly: “We have ‘Gifts for Others’ and ‘Gifts for Each Other’ categories. They make those ‘I think he/she would love this’ moments possible.”
  • Faness: “I made self care a goal of mine for this year and went from a ‘Personal Maintenance’ category to a ‘Self-Spoiling’ category group.”

Craving more category inspo? We've got you covered.

Your turn: Prioritize YOU in your YNAB spending plan

What could this concept look like in practice for you? Here’s a little inspiration to get you started in restructuring, renaming, or creating entirely new category groups dedicated to your happiness and wellbeing!

This Is Me

Categories dedicated to personal hobbies and passions, ensuring you never neglect what makes you uniquely you.

This Is Us

Strengthening relationships through thoughtful spending on shared experiences, memory-making, and gifts.

Treat Yo Self

Those little indulgences that brighten your day, be it a fancy coffee or a surprise treat. You deserve it.

Future Me

Regular contributions to retirement accounts like Roth IRAs and 401Ks, as well as creating a medical buffer, are all about investing in your future self.

Self Love

Prioritizing expenses that reinforce self-esteem and personal growth.

Seasonal Self-Care

Adapting your self-care regime to the changing seasons, from winter spa days to summer vacation days.

Put Yourself First with YNAB

Now, over to you. As we celebrate National Self-Care Day, take a moment to think about your own parallels to an “Emergency Sunshine” category. How does your spending plan reflect and reinforce your definition of holistic health? 

Remember, YNAB isn’t just about tracking expenses. That’s boring, and we’re not here to look backward. The Four Habits are all about aligning your money with your values—each category you create is a statement about what’s important to you. Shouldn’t you be on that list?

Ready to create a more empowering relationship with money? Download our free Change Your Money Mindset workbook for a new view on what your dollars can do for you.

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My Emergency Sunshine Category and 12 Other Ways to Take Care of Yourself with YNAB