Who doesn't love to stroll through Costco or Sam's Club admiring the towers of bulk? As much as we give to our pantries though, most of us don't stop to make sure our inner reserves are stocked up and ready for rough times. Scheduling only as much time as you need or saving just enough money can leave you feeling anxious.
"But when you take care of yourself and create reserves in your life," says Beth Rothenberg, a life coach in Los Angeles, the resulting sense of well-being "fills you with more energy than you can imagine." That's why we've come up with four things you can do now to pad your life with enough time, love, money and energy to get through anything that comes your way. (Think of it as a Costco for your soul!)
1. Take time for yourself
Block out 30 minutes each day. Actually scheduling a half-hour of commitment-free time on your calendar might seem indulgent, but it's a time reserve that you can use any way you wish, whether for surprise emergencies - such as dealing with an unexpected problem at work - or for recharging by taking an energizing walk. The result: a feeling of control - and less stress - over your daily schedule.
2. Load up on love
Your friends and spouse are supposed to be there when you need them, right? Of course. But you can't just plug them in when they're ready for use. "Friendships have to be nurtured as much as any relationship," Rothenberg says. Take time each week to share with a loved one: Reply to a friend's e-mail already (even if briefly), and ring a significant other once a day to say hello. These little acts give you day-to-day support, and active friendships keep you healthier, calm and happy.
3. Sock away extra money
You can't predict when you'll have to pay for an emergency dental situation, a speeding ticket or a bridal-shower gift. So having a money cushion - rather than living paycheck to paycheck - lets you cover surprise incidentals and sleep better at night. First step: Use whatever you do have stashed away to pay off your credit cards; high annual percentage rates negate interest you earn in a bank account. Then start saving for your future: Pay the max on your company's 401(k), and invest what you can in a stock-market index fund.
"They outperform most other mutual funds and charge less in fees," says Dayana Yochim, senior producer for personal finance at The Motley Fool, a finance-education site. "Vanguard is a good company to start with, and some companies let you automatically withdraw funds from your paycheck, as little as $100 a month." You won't even notice the money's gone - until you realize you've got G's in the bank. For more details, check out fool.com and vanguard.com.
4. Nurture your energy stores
To maximize your energy, spend it on things that give energy back. "I call it extreme self-care," Rothenberg says. Make a "dessert list" of 15 things you rarely do -- read a trashy novel, eat lunch outdoors or arrange flowers. Then do one thing each day. And try to minimize the number of tasks that fatigue you. "If something is really draining your energy, see if there's a way you could share the responsibility by paying someone or delegating it out," Rothenberg says. "If not, do it and stop worrying about it."