50+ Self-Care Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

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60% of Americans are more tired than ever before. It’s time to make a change!

Exhausted with day-to-day life? Experiencing burnout while being pulled in several different directions? You’re not alone. Let’s explore self-care ideas that don’t cost a small fortune.

Mental health concerns on the rise?

Millions of Americans report dealing with tiredness and fatigue. 3 out of 5 people claim to be more exhausted than they’ve ever been.  

Our lives today are fast-paced and often stressful. This is the reality for professionals, parents, caregivers, workers, students, and pretty much everyone else. We are constantly pushing forward trying to accomplish tasks and take care of our families. As a result, we often fall short when it comes to taking care of ourselves.  

They say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and they’re right! To better help those that depend on us, we need to be in our best state.  

There’s no surprise that financial stress and mental health can impact each other. Read our full article here on how finances impact our health.

The impact of financial stress. Woman cries while looking at bills, receipts, and her budget.

For immediate relief, an online payday loan may be one option. It can help provide emergency funds regardless of a person’s credit history. They’re traditionally made to be paid back on the borrower’s next payday.  

For longer-term relief, therapy or self-care may help. These tools may be beneficial in helping you manage stress on a day-to-day basis.

What is self-care?

Anything you do to take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually can be defined as self-care. It helps contribute towards your health and wellness in a positive way and does not mean indulgence or selfishness. Self-care could be as simple as lighting a candle or drinking a hot beverage after a long day. 

See our list of inexpensive self-care ideas.

Woman reading book in bathtub to practice self-care. She has candles lit around her.

Why is self-care important?

Believe it or not, 77% of people claim to experience stress that impacts their physical health. This number indicates that most individuals are at risk of physical ailments due to the stress in their lives. Stress can stem from jobs, finances, relationships, family life, etc. 

Self-care can’t solve all our problems, but it helps us face them in a stronger and better way.

Life often throws curveballs and challenges. You want to overcome obstacles in your path and being in a good place physically and mentally can help significantly.  

Caring for yourself on a regular basis can make a huge difference.

Self-care quotes

Here are a few of our favorite self-care quotes to remind us to take a moment and practice self-care. These self-care quotes are provided by writers Roy Bennet, Anne Lamott, and Lalah Delia, as well as Lucille Ball and Dove Chocolate.

  1. “Self-care is how you take your power back.”
  2. “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
  3. “It’s definitely a bubble bath day.”
  4. “Take responsibility of your own happiness, never put it in other people’s hands.”
  5. “Take a deep breath and exhale.”
  6. “Start each day with a positive thought and grateful heart.”
  7. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.”
  8. “Focus on living fully in the present.”
  9. “Sleep late tomorrow.”
  10. “Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe.”
  11. “Be the reason someone smiles… and believes in the goodness in people.”
  12. “Your brain needs plenty of rest to function at its optimal level. Go to sleep!”
Self-care quote from Lucille Ball about loving yourself.

Finding a balance between acts you do for others and for yourself is the key to creating a more harmonious life for yourself and for those around you. Our self-care ideas focus on how to “give back” to yourself.

Benefits of self-care

Self-care has grown into a $450 billion industry and is continuing to grow. People are dealing with higher stress and anxiety levels and seeking ways to manage them. Self-care methods and practices have shown to:

  • Decrease anxiety 
  • Manage depression 
  • Reduce and relieve stress 
  • Improve relationships 
  • Recover from loss and other setbacks 
  • Boost self-worth and confidence 
  • Increase productivity 
  • Lower risks of heart disease and stroke 
  • Promote mental and emotional wellbeing

Cost-friendly self-care ideas

We have created a list of self-care ideas keeping in mind realistic lifestyles and real people. Not everyone can take a vacation to some tropical island to attend a self-care retreat. Most of us would need to save and plan for a splurge like that. It is not realistic or even feasible for most of the population. Our self-care tips can be attained with minimal effort and investment. Let’s navigate this list together!

1. Journal

Let the words flow. Writing down your feelings can be deeply therapeutic and helps you see things more clearly. People often report feeling less stressed after a journaling session. It can promote positivity and help you reconnect with yourself. For these reasons, we have journaling at the top of our list.

Older woman practices self-care by writing in her journal at the table.

2. Practice gratitude

No matter how difficult our lives are, we always have something to be grateful for and it is important to realize that. It could be the job that helps pay the bills, the rescue animal that rescued you, a child you deeply love, your health, or your friends. Taking a moment to collect your thoughts and focusing on these things in your life will bring over a sense of gratitude.

3. Bake

You don’t have to be Marta Stewart to bake something, anything! It could be cookies made from scratch if you have the ingredients in your kitchen, or a super affordable cake mix. Baking can be relaxing as you get to play with texture, smell, and taste!

4. Bubble bath

If your house or apartment has a bath, take full advantage of it. Bubble bath and bath salts come in very reasonable prices at the dollar stores. Alternatively, you can opt for DIY salt scrubs, which are made of sea salt, carrier oil, and an essential oil.

Man reads Naruto book in bubble bath to relax.

5. Get creative 

Self-care activities can sometimes tap into your creative side. You could try doodling, coloring, crafting, painting, or pretty much anything in that genre. You could even try your hand at calligraphy, embroidery, crocheting, or stenciling your walls! Some of you might kick it up a notch and repaint old furniture. The goal is to stick to what you already have in terms of supplies unless you’re trying to pursue a passion.

6. Take a walk

Walking can be an excellent choice of activity for most people. It is even better if you have a friend or dog to accompany you. If you’re feeling it, you might jog or go for a run. It is good to get moving especially if you’re sedentary most of the day. Some parents make it a family affair by taking their small kids along in strollers and kid wagons.

7. Make your favorite drink

Sweet tea, lemonade, or cold coffee, if you have the ingredients to prepare your favorite drink, do so. Sipping your beverage of choice evokes positive feelings which is one of the purposes of self-care.

8. Switch off your phone

We hate to break it to you, but your phone could be adding to your daily stress. With a gazillion notifications from your various apps, it can be very distracting. Going on a phone detox for a few hours can be good for your mental health.

9. Practice yoga

This ancient practice has been known to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. You don’t need to pay for a class as there are plenty of free resources available online. Yoga helps strengthen your core and improve balance and posture. Just give it a try!

Mom and child practice yoga at home.

10. Meditate

Meditation helps calm and sooth your mind along with improving quality of sleep. Incorporating it into your schedule can have several long-term benefits. Did you know you can meditate in bed?

11. Tend to your plants

Are you a plant person? If yes, you know you love your plants and spending time with them counts as self-care. Even if you don’t go as far as calling yourself a “plant lover” or “plant parent,” you can still find satisfaction in watering them.

12. Watch a sunrise or sunset

This can be done alone or with a loved one. Some people find sunsets to be extremely romantic. Others regard sunrise as the start of something beautiful. Both can have a positive impact on our mind.

13. Call your grandma (or any loved one)

Human beings have a finite number of years and that makes it important to check in on people that you love. Give your grandma or any older relative a call and they will appreciate it more than you will ever know.

Stylish grandma gets a call from a loved one.

14. Read

Reading can help one relax. It could be a novel, a magazine, or a cookbook!

15. Cuddle your pets

Research claims that cuddling or spending time with your pets increases oxytocin levels, which evokes feelings of love and affection while strengthening your bond with your pet.

16. Listen to a podcast

A podcast or an audiobook can be a great way to practice selfcare at home or anywhere. Pick one you like and get your headphones.

17. Grooming

Self-care quote from Dove Chocolate reminding you it’s okay to take a bubble bath.

This involves activities that take care of one’s body such as showering, shaving, waxing your brows, practicing a skincare or hair-care routine, soaking or scrubbing your feet, tending to your cuticles and nails, flossing, etc.

18. Stop and sniff the roses – we know, such a cliché!

Take a moment to appreciate all that there is around you. If you’re at home, appreciate having a roof over your head. If you’re at a family dinner, appreciate the food and the people at the table.

19. Help someone

Roy Bennet self-care quote about the importance making others smile.

Practice a random act of kindness with no expectation of reciprocity. Complimenting a stranger, holding the door open for someone, appreciating a coworker, etc., are all small yet impactful ways to show kindness.

Woman does a small act of care for her community. While wearing a white “volunteer” shirt, she hands out cups of soup.

20. Hydrate

Staying hydrated throughout the day is a healthy habit but not all of us do so. Increasing your water intake can work wonders for your health, mood, and skin.

21. Go to bed early

Yes, you’re an adult and can stay up for as long as you please but going to bed early is among our top self-care ideas. This is because most people struggle with getting good sleep and so whenever you have an opportunity to get in a few extra hours, go for it!

22. Watch a movie or tv show

This isn’t mindlessly playing whatever you can find on Netflix while simultaneously scrolling your phone. Pick a show or movie you’d really want to watch and enjoy the next hour or so.

Mother and child relax on cozy couch to watch TV together.

23. Positive affirmations only

Try to remove negative and pessimistic thoughts while focusing on positive affirmations to help boost your self-confidence and spirit. Writing down these affirmations or saying them out loud could be helpful.

24. Power nap

Sometimes you just have to reset and recharge. A nap can make you wake up feeling refreshed and energized.

25. Declutter a small area

Pick one area of your home and clean it out. Remove all the items you don’t use and put whatever remains in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement.

26. Write down your goals

Writing down your goals or making a vision board is among our favorite self-care ideas because it acts as a motivating tool. Your goals need to be realistic and so does the timeline to achieve them. If you have fitness goals, running a 5K could be ambitious yet attainable but becoming the best athlete in the world would need some serious life changes that most of us are not prepared to make.

27. Dance like nobody is watching

Anybody can dance! Yes, we said what we said! The point is to move your body and enjoy the activity. Turn on the music and freestyle your way through the beats.

28. Workout

If you already have a gym membership, we recommend making use of it. Otherwise, you can find free resources online that can help you work out at home. Some of these may require equipment and weights but there are several options that do not need any props.

29. Plan out your meals

Chalk out your meal plan for the week and make lists of items you might need. This helps you get organized before meal prep. We have a few meal prepping ideas for weight loss that you can consult in case you’re hoping to drop a few pounds after the holiday season.

Woman in apron bakes in kitchen on top of a checkered tablecloth. She is preparing her meals for the week.

30. Write a letter to someone

Our relationships with people make up a significant part of our lives. Writing letters is a lost art in this age of technology. Bring back the old pen and paper and write a note to someone you care about.

31. Clean out your email

The average person has over 1600 unread emails in their inbox. Taking the time to read and delete emails is among the best self-care ideas for professionals and students.

32. Look up local events

A simple google search will tell you all about the upcoming events in your city or down. Pick out the ones you would like to attend and mark them in your calendar. Some of these events might be free and open to everyone.

People attend a local event as a form of self-care.

33. Decorate

If holidays are around the corner, bring out the decorations and get started! You can decorate areas of your home for cheap by reusing old décor, buying from the dollar store, scrounging estate sales, etc.

34. Throw away expired food

Start with your refrigerator and then move on to the cabinet shelves or wherever you store food. Throw away food that has already expired and put the soon-to-expire items on your counter so that you remember to use them before it’s too late.

35.  Discard items you no longer use

Toss, recycle, or donate items you don’t use anymore. They are only taking up valuable storage space in your home and adding to the clutter and junk.

36. Donate to a cause

If there is a cause close to your heart, consider donating, however big or small. It will bring you joy and an overall good feeling.

37. Buy Girl Scout cookies

These cost about five dollars on average, but it will be the best five dollars you spent in a while. The cookies are delicious, and your contribution goes towards the local Girl Scout council.

38. Go on a long drive

Gas prices may not agree with one but if you have the means to take a long drive, please do. It doesn’t have to be a full-on road trip although that would be so much fun. Taking the longer route back home from work also counts.

39. Visit a library, museum, or park

A trip to your local library, museum, or park can be just the little getaway you need when trying to decompress. Most of these places are free or charge a small entrance fee.

Woman sits down in the middle of a library reading a book.

40. Do brunch with friends or fly solo 

Brunch is often regarded as the fanciest of meals, but we can certainly do it on a budget. Put together a nice meal and know that presentation is key! Have a friend over or enjoy it by yourself.

41. Charcuterie board

This may not be true for everyone, but there’s beauty about slicing and dicing various fruits, cheeses, and meats, and then proceeding to arrange them into a magnificent work of art. This could be a fun activity with friends or older kids. You don’t need fancy ingredients to make this work. Regular crackers, cheese, and whatever else you can find in your kitchen will do.

42. Order groceries online

Self-care ideas don’t always have to be romantic or whimsical. Getting your groceries online is a self-care act because it encourages you to eat at home and eat healthier. You also get to skip going to the store where you might be more tempted to grab an unhealthy snack. Curb-side pickup is the way to go if you want to avoid delivery fees.

43. Pick one healthy habit you can stick to

It may not be possible to incorporate several self-care ideas into your regular day. That’s why we suggest picking one good habit that you can practice every day. It could be brushing your teeth more than once, doing squats every morning, reading the newspaper, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, etc.

44. Sell stuff online

If you have items of clothing, accessories, or décor in fairly good condition that you no longer use, you can consider selling them. List them out on a website like eBay, Poshmark, or Facebook Marketplace and wait to hear the cha-ching!

45. Go swimming

If you have a YMCA membership or if you live close to a lake or the beach, swimming could be an inexpensive and easily accessible activity. Some apartment complexes have their own pools for residents. Or you could invite yourself over to that friend’s house who not-so-coincidentally happens to have a pool!

46. Have a little picnic

Pack some sandwiches and snacks along with a bottle of your beverage of choice and head to the nearest park. You can even do it in your own backyard, porch, or patio. Use disposable plates and silverware if you have them lying around from “ghosts of takeouts past.”

Two friends go on a picnic together in the park. They are eating various fruits and pastries.

47. Watch a YouTube tutorial or video

Need to get wine stains off your carpet? Looking for easy-to-make lunch ideas? Trying to install a kitchen sink? There’s bound to be videos showing how to get these things done. Self-care ideas can also include learning how to accomplish something.

48. Check out our blog

Self-care ideas include brushing up on topics like money and finances along with light-hearted and entertaining tidbits. The best place to find all of these is our blog, which we call “Our Two cents.”

49. Say “No”

People-pleaser or not, many of us are guilty of putting others and their needs first 99.99% of the time. It is understandable to prioritize your relationships and obligations, but there comes a time when you have to say no for the purpose of self-preservation.

50. Just breathe

Anne Lamott self-care quote about taking one step at a time and remembering to breathe.

It is perfectly okay to not do anything. Self-care isn’t a chore or task. It is what you make it. It is what brings you peace and tranquility. That’s why doing absolutely nothing and just focusing on your breathing counts as self-care, too.

Woman sits on corner of bed in Burmese meditation stance. She slows her breathing to stay calm and find peace.

Self-care ideas for gifting

Tis the season of giving and what could be more joyful than a self-care gift? We have a list of gift ideas in the self-care department:

  • Gift card to their favorite coffee place  
  • Baked goods  
  • Pair of woolen socks  
  • Stress balls  
  • Magazine subscription  
  • Local event tickets  
  • Plants  
  • Bath bombs
List of self-care gift ideas. All items on this list are affordable and will not break the bank.

And it’s a wrap!

As promised, we delivered a list of self-care ideas that don’t require spending a lot of money. Pick one or a combination of several to help create a routine for yourself. It comes down to what makes you feel better. We alco included a list of inexpensive self-care gift ideas for your friends and family that show you care. 

Self-care is important and this is your sign to incorporate it into your daily life.  

You can find more health-related resources on our website here:

Net Pay Advance is a licensed loan provider, locally owned and operated in Wichita, Kansas. Our No. 1 priority is helping you, the customer, by providing access to the cash you need and helping support financial independence goals with valuable, informational, and entertaining content. Stay up-to-date on our posts by following the Net Pay Advance Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. Our organization is committed to transparency; learn more about our authors and editorial policy. The information provided within this blog is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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