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Tips for Inexpensive (or Free!) Self Care

Affordable self care is an absolute priority for me. We cannot all afford fancy spas and weekend getaways, but we do all deserve to treat ourselves well. Self care is simply taking the time to make sure we are healthy and well enough to live our lives effectively. We all need it.

With that said, there are so many different ways to practice self care and it can all be affordable. I tend to separate my self care into 6 different categories to ensure I am meeting my particular needs. This makes it easy for me to choose something that can truly help me in the moment instead of blindly shooting and hoping for the best! 

silhouette of a person sitting, meditating in front of the sun. top text reads bottom text reads inexpensive self care.
Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

My focus today is to share with you a few of the ways I practice self care divided between those categories! I have included price ranges so you can see just how affordable self care can be! I hope you find this helpful and can incorporate some of this into your self care strategy!

Emotional Self Care

First up we have our emotional needs! These practices help you connect to and understand your emotions.

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Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash


Journaling is one of the most popular recommendations for practicing emotional self care. Simply taking the time to jot down your thoughts can help you manage your anxiety and reduce your stress. Journaling isn’t for everyone, though. Some people might have a hard time putting their thoughts into words, so it can be difficult to express themselves in this way. 

If you do choose journaling for your self care, it is very affordable. Most people already have what they need to get started! You just need something to write in and something to write with. A lot of people use notes apps on their phones, but you will reap the most benefits if you physically write. When it comes down to choosing your tools, you can choose to go as affordable or expensive as you want! Lately I’ve been using a plain Five Star notebook and mechanical pencil, but there are some really nice journals and pens out there as well!

Time: 5-30 minutes

Cost: $0-$15


Another great method for practicing emotional self care is creating. This can be anything from making art to making music to crafting. Similar to journaling, this is a great way to express your thoughts and feelings. Many people who struggle with journaling find creating to be a great outlet as it’s not as specific and is a bit more free form. If you can’t put your thoughts into words, perhaps you can express it via art or music! 

The cost of creating is going to differ based on your particular choice of medium. A pencil and paper can cost pennies while a musical instrument can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. I recommend if you’re choosing this type of self care, you try to accomplish it using materials you already own or very affordable items from a local store. 

Time: 20-60 minutes

Cost: $0-$25

Practical Self Care

Next up we are working on meeting our practical needs. This is self care that can help accomplish tasks in our life that prevent us from getting too stressed in the future. This might not feel like self care in the moment, but future you will thank you!


Every single one of us is learning every day, whether we know it or not. But choosing to actively learn is an amazing way to practice self care. By taking the time to teach yourself something, you are improving your mind and can be gearing up to improve your life! We can learn a new art form to help with our creative self care, or maybe you’re learning a new professional skill so you can get a job you love that fulfills your financial needs better! All around, learning can help set you up to be more successful and less stressed in the future.

There are many different platforms you can use to help learn something new. You can use books, YouTube, Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera, etc. The possibilities are virtually endless! Personally, I always renew my yearly Skillshare subscription and snoop around for some amazing Udemy deals. With Udemy, they run some great specials multiple times a year and you get lifetime access to the courses you purchase! I never spend more than $10 a month for my learning. 

Time: 15-90 minutes

Cost: $0-$10


Cleaning is something we all have to do, whether we want to or not. With mindful and intuitive practice, it can become a crucial part of your self care routine! You know how good it feels to step back and look at your sparkling clean bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen? That feeling is what makes cleaning such great self care! We may not always enjoy it in the moment, but the sense of accomplishment and just all around positive feelings we feel in a clean space make it worth it. 

To help make the task a little less tedious, I always take the opportunity to try and make it entertaining. I’ll turn on my favorite tv show, playlist, or podcast while I’m cleaning to help set a positive tone and get me in a good mood! This way, cleaning doesn’t seem as tiresome. 

Most people probably already have the cleaning materials they need laying around their house, but if not they are fairly inexpensive at most stores! I am a big fan of the target brand of cleaning products, myself! 

Time: 10-30 minutes

Cost: $0-$15

Physical Self Care

Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t realize there is a physical act of self care! Exercise is self care! And no, you don’t have to do a super intense bootcamp or crossfit workout for it to count. Physical self care is any activity that increases your physical well-being and health!


Yes, even just taking a simple walk around the block is self care! Not only are you getting some much needed fresh air and vitamin D. You’re also letting your mind have a much-needed break from the monotony of day-to-day life.

By increasing your oxygen intake and your heart rate, a nice and easy walk can help reduce your stress and calm you down! So, if you feel yourself getting extra stressed or you’re feeling anxious, take a walk! The best thing? You can make it last as short or long as you need and it is always completely free! 

Time: 15-30 minutes

Cost: $0

Dance Party

Want to kick things up a notch? Throw a dance party of one! Turn on your favorite upbeat playlist on Spotify, YouTube, or even your old CD and just let your mind drift off while your body moves with the music. Not only does the simple act of dancing help improve your coordination and lung function. As a form of exercise, it helps boost endorphins which send a mood boost straight to your brain! As we all know, 

“”Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands.” 

Time: 5-30 minutes

Cost: $0


Your physical health doesn’t just mean get up and get moving. It also means you need to take the time to give your body what it needs. And what do we need more than anything? Water! Making sure your body has plenty of water is crucial to keeping your entire body healthy, from your skin to your stomach! 

I recommend keeping a water bottle near you at all times during the day so you can drink from it periodically. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated! For me, having a cute bottle helps me want to drink from it more often! You can use one you already have laying around the house or maybe splurge a bit and get a super cute one that you love.

Time: ongoing

Cost: $0-$20

Mental Self Care

The whole point of self care is to improve our overall mental state, so this one should come as no surprise. But the tasks might not be exactly what you expect! Mental self care is something that stimulates your mind.

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Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash


Chilling out and curling up with a warm blanket and a good book is one of my favorite acts of self care. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading; so long as you are interested in it and taking the time to read, you are helping yourself. Yes, even those smutty romance novels count! Reading has been shown to help improve memory and reduce stress, so it is an amazing way to practice self care!

The way you practice is entirely up to you. You can choose to read a self-improvement book, learn something from a book or just read for fun! No matter what, you are sure to reap the benefits of reading for self care! 

The great thing about reading is that it is only as expensive as we want it to be. I check out books from my library, so I never pay a cent! But you can also rent books, purchase nice copies from a bookstore, or even borrow from friends! 

There is one caveat here: while audiobooks are amazing and can help you with your self care, to best reap the benefits of reading you do actually need to physically ~read~ the book, not just listen. Just something to be aware of!

Time: 10-90 minutes

Cost: $0-$25


Maybe reading isn’t your speed, but you still want to get that sweet sweet mental boost. Luckily for you, there are puzzles! Puzzles are a great way to exercise your mind while having fun. Any type of puzzle will work: puzzle video games, puzzle blocks, and even just goold old fashioned puzzles!

If you’ve ever sat down and just taken the time to complete a puzzle, it will probably come as no shock to you that it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Another great thing is that it can help improve your focus and boost your creativity! These not only help you in your day to day life, but also in your other acts of self care!

Some people might have plenty of puzzles lying around their house, but I surprisingly do not! Luckily, puzzles are not very expensive and you can find some great ones at a bookstore or shop like Target.

Time: 15-60 minutes

Cost: $10-$20

Social Self Care

You might not think of socialization as being a form of self care, but it absolutely is. Anything that helps improve your relationships with the important people in your life also helps you.

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Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

Call a friend

Sometimes we just need to talk it out. Even just a short call with a friend or someone in your family can help you boost your happiness and reduce the stress in your life. Extra bonus: it’s almost impossible to get by without a phone these days, so there is no added expense when using this for your self care!

Now, I do think it is important to say that there is a fine line here we need to be careful not to cross. While it can feel nice to rant and vent to our friends over the phone, please make sure you are not using them in place of a therapist. Your friends are (probably) not trained professionals and if you bring negative energy and emotional dumping to your phone call, it will actually hurt both of you in the long run.

Instead, focus on talking about the good things in your life instead. Catch up on changes in your life since the last time you spoke or try to make exciting future plans. Keep your calls light and positive to reap the moist benefits. 

Time: 5-90 minutes

Cost: $0

Game night

I just mentioned making exciting plans with a friend: maybe make it a game night! This can be a virtual game night, a video game, or an in person game night and you will still reap the benefits! Just like talking on the phone, socializing during a game night boosts your happiness and reduces stress. But more than that, it can also improve your problem-solving and reading skills!

You might have a board game or video game lying around already, in which case this practice will cost you absolutely nothing! Otherwise, there are some very affordable card and board games out there you can try! Some libraries also allow you to check out games just like a book!

Time: 60-120 minutes

Cost: $0-$20

Spiritual Self Care

And here we are at our last category! When it comes to self care, I think this is what most people think of when it comes to mind. Spiritual self care is any activity that prompts you to exist outside of your own brain and think bigger than yourself.

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Photo by kike vega on Unsplash


A popular way to practice self care because it works.Yoga not only works your mind but also your body. While you’re boosting your muscles and your balance, you are also actively reducing your stress, anxiety, and depression

The great thing about yoga is that anyone can do it. You do not have to be a size 0 contortionist to be able to practice. There are plenty of beginner lessons and so many different poses that can fit every need and body. All that matters is that you are taking the time to be one with your breath and let your mind explore.

Yoga can be as affordable or as expensive as you want it to be. For me, I prefer to practice using free YouTube videos, like the amazing ones made by Yoga with Adriene. If you are looking for more of a class atmosphere to help you learn and hold yourself accountable, I have seen monthly memberships as low as $20.

Time: 15-45 minutes

Cost: $0-$20

Just BE

For me, this is the hardest way to practice self care. It’s also something I make sure to implement in my life. It certainly does not come easy for me, and there’s a chance it won’t be easy for you either. But simply disconnecting from the world, not allowing yourself to think of any troubles, and just existing in the moment has become the best way I have found for me to relax, destress, and manage my anxiety. 

Some people might call this meditation, though I don’t view it quite the same. Instead of actively acknowledging my thoughts, I try my best to set them aside. This usually finds me sitting on my balcony or in my favorite chair and just listening to the sounds around me. I don’t try to identify them and I don’t try to think about anything. I just am

Like I said, it certainly is not easy and I do not succeed 100% most of the time. But I get better each time. While I am in this state, there is no stress in my life. I am just alive. And since starting this practice, my mental health has improved drastically. My own therapist was impressed! And the best part? It costs absolutely nothing! Because all I need is me.

Time: 10-30 minutes

Cost: $0


It doesn’t matter how you choose to practice self care. Just make sure you are taking care of yourself the best way you know how. I do recommend trying to accomplish one task from each of the six categories at least once every few months to see the most success. Don’t stress yourself too much over making sure you’re checking off the boxes, though. Self care is supposed to alleviate stress, not create it. Justy do what makes you feel good when you need it.

I’d love to hear all about how you practice self care and if you do anything different than what’s here on my list! There are virtually endless possibilities. Leave a comment down below or tell me about it on Twitter!

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