Becoming Mindful With Your Money
Being mindful is beneficial in all aspects of our life and it shouldn’t be any different with our money. Mindfulness is about cultivating a practice of paying attention to your internal state in the moment, and noticing how that affects your decisions and behavior. We might not consider finance related to our spirituality, however in the world we live in we have to learn how to combine the two for a more fulfilling life.
The first place to start on your mindful money handling journey is by understanding the value of money and what you can get with it. We don’t mean it in a metaphorical way! It’s the basic understanding how much your water bill is, knowing the cost of basic food items or how much you spend on transport. We advise you start seeing money as a tool which isn’t for you or against you in and of itself.
Now take a step back and force yourself to look at the bigger picture and then make an active decision to be more conscious of how you manage your money. Ask yourself which type of spending is causing you the most stress (for example paying of your loan) and than try to work minimize its negative impact. In this case it could be tightening your belt for a few of months and repaying the debt as soon as possible. These deliberate decisions will lessen your anxiety, as well as boost your finances. Therefore it’s time to set a mindful budget. It should be realistic with your main goals in mind but not so strict that you will grow to resent it or not stick to it.
Another aspect to increase your awareness of is knowing what you already have. Sometimes when we see an item on display with its masterfully designed marketing, we want to buy it straight away. However, if we would take a minute to think of the things we already have we might find the same objects or very similar ones already in our possession. Knowing what we have and not letting our reasoning be switched off with fancy packaging can really help us be mindful with our money.
Are you the sort of person who will spend not being aware of the consequences? Try using cash rather than card. We suggest you give yourself an allowance per day or week and keep track of where the money is going. Sometimes handling cash will make you realize how much money you are actually spending.
Tackle one problem at a time. If you suddenly decide to reduce all your expenditure on food, utility, clothes, you’ll feel overwhelmed. Take small steps and ensure you aren’t constantly feeling deprived. Set your priorities and then let other areas follow. It’s important not to bite off more than you can chew as this can create a negative attitude towards saving mindfully.
When starting your journey towards being mindful with your money, try to focus on yourself and avoid comparing yourself to others. One of the biggest measures of success in our society is the amount me make. However, what your neighbor’s income is or how your friend spends his money is not in your control and you shouldn’t use it as a metric for your value. Focusing on yourself puts your attention where it can do the most good.
Stop living paycheck to paycheck
This is the epitome of reactive money and not being mindful. Stop, breath and re-evaluate. You can’t keep spending all the money you earn, never being able to get ahead. It is an exhausting way to be and one that won’t better your financial situation.
Don’t only mindfully spend or save, try to earn as well. Be mindful of your hobbies or talents that could be used as side hustles that could earn you a few extra quid. This could go towards your main goal, like paying off your car or an emergency fund. Emergency situations by definition are unexpected however, this doesn’t mean you can’t be financially prepared for them.
Motivation is key! Even though the main reward should be the smart money decisions you make, sometimes we need a little more to tell ourselves we did well. That way, you positively reinforce the good saving behavior and make it more likely that it will turn into a permanent habit. It can be very simple rewards, for example: if you save £10 every week, then you can treat yourself to a fancy bubble bath.
Spend time not money
Take your time making a purchase decision, don’t just go for the first object you see. Check competitors’ prices and compare price for value. This is especially important when choosing something long term, like a phone contract. The “only £2 more” will add up as time passes and you pay every month.
Take the time to regularly review your spending. You will almost definitely notice areas where you can reduce. Most common ones are subscriptions that you have probably forgotten about or you don’t actually take advantage of and would benefit from unsubscribing.
Spend on things that give you joy not for joy. Try to purchase things that actually bring you happiness and reflect your values. However, unfortunately not every purchase we make will bring us happiness. Maintenance expenses or regular bills are inevitable. Instead of ignoring them try to negotiate repair costs or look for the best deals. Another aspect you should consider is that certain payments might not bring you joy in the moment however, will in the future. For example when you pay off your mortgage. Practice paying more attention to your thoughts and feelings around money. As you become more mindful, you will be able to make simple, in-the-moment course corrections that will keep you on the right track toward your financial goals.
Some of your money problems might be stemming from a negative pattern that you can combat with being mindful. Perhaps it’s getting a coffee first thing in the morning from a coffee shop. If you make it at home, over a month you could save even as much as £30. Question if your TV habit actually brings you joy. If you reduce it or cut it out you will finally get rid of those cable expenses. Being aware of your habit is the first step in breaking it. Now you can replace it with a solution and a healthy habit.
This might surprise you, but our physical and mental health will have an incredible effect on our spending habits. When we feel down or depressed we might find ourselves trying to mask our negative emotions with shopping. To avoid this ask yourself these questions:
“Do I really need this?”
“What am I giving up for this purchase?”
“What else could I do with this money?”
Often the impulse to buy is about more than the shopping. Confronting your emotions rather than using shopping as a coping mechanism will make you more mindful with your money.
Creating healthy and frugal exercise as well as eating habits can ultimately help you reduce health care costs, not to mention miss fewer days of work due to illness.
Making mindful money decisions stems from living your life with intention. Take a moment to focus on what you’re working towards. Anchor your decisions with determination to build your life in that direction. The key is to really reflect on where your money is coming from when and how much. Compare these figures on all your expenses and see which money habits are good and which need improvement.