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Are your wellness spending habits healthy?

We all know the old yardstick—spend no more than 30 percent of your income on housing. But how much of your budget should go towards the cost of a healthy lifestyle?

“Money is all about balance—and so is wellness,” says MP Dunleavey, the savvy editorial director of Daily Worth, a free subscriber e-mail that doles out Suze Orman­–style personal finance information. In attempt to balance $200 juice cleanses with our bank account, Dunleavey helped us devise some wellness budgeting rules.

Finance guru MP Dunleavey

Your wellness budget should have two parts, explains the refreshingly no-nonsense Dunleavey who doesn’t promise that you can have it all. “The first is what you consider essential, whether that’s your gym membership or regular acupuncture for your back. The second part covers the extras: You love what facials do for your skin, but they’re not do-or-die every month. You love that incense at your Pilates studio, but you can breathe without it. Think about what you require versus what you desire.”

1)    Essentials: Your essential wellness budget should be about 5 percent or less of your take-home pay. That means, if you take home about $4,000 per month, you probably don’t want to spend more than $200 on wellness. That’s because you need to cover other priorities, like bills, paying off debt, and saving. (Hint: you should save about 10 percent of your income for retirement, and a minimum of 10 percent for personal goals and unexpected expenses.)

2)   Extras: There may be some months when you decide to spend more than that, because, say, you need to see a physical therapist for an injury. Or it may make sense to spend $200 for yoga-class card, because you get a cheaper rate on each class. Or maybe one month you refill your spirulina supplements, go on a retreat, or take a hiking trip.

3)   BUT: If you are spending so much on self-care that it’s hard to juggle other bills, or you’re in debt (and not making swift progress to pay it off) or—worst of all—if you’re not putting money aside for your future or for personal savings, then you need to reassess your overspending, find ways to bring it all back into balance.

“Balance is key,” says Dunleavey because “You don’t want to be so financially strict that you can only afford to eat beans and go jogging for exercise, even though you have a bad knee and you hate jogging. That’s going to backfire. In the same way, nourishing your self and soul extravagantly now—and sacrificing your long-term financial health to do it—is not a price you want to pay either.”

For practical tips, check out six wellness sacrifices we’ve made and six spa treatments you should never pay for.