- What is Mindful Spending?
- Why Practice Mindful Spending?
- Benefits of Mindful Spending
- The Goal of Mindful Spending
- Mindful Spending Basics
- Mindful Spending is Lifelong
- Mindfulness and Money: 5 Life-Changing Steps For A Happier Relationship
- 2. Look Into Your Past
- 3. Discover your money beliefs
- 4. Visualise your financial goals
- 5. Consider Finding a Financial Mentor, Therapist or Coach
What is Mindful Spending?
Deciding how to spend your hard-earned money wisely can be intimidating. Regret lurks around every financial choice. Thankfully, mindful spending is a one-two punch, easing spending stress while accentuating your uniqueness.
Mindful spending transformed my life.
Mindful spending involves making spending decisions aligned with your induviduallity. By slowing down and gaining an appreciation of how money helps you live, you can increase your spending confidence, reduce buyer's remorse, decrease the stress of decition making, and create a life you love.
In a nutshell, mindful spending is lifestyle-based money management.
You may be wondering, “What does that mean exactly?”
Simply put, the focus of all your spending choices are on your personal lifestyle. When practicing mindful spending, you develop an acute awareness of how all your spending aligns with current needs and desires. This means your money reflects your individuality.
You may be thinking, “I am in good financial health (or getting there). Doesn't my money already reflect me?”
The answer is… maybe.
Most financial experts emphasize the practical side of money management. Common mantras are “budget, pay off debt, save for retirement, and improve your credit score”. They often apply a cookie-cutter formula for helping you be financially healthy. But they don't teach you how to use money to reflect your true individuality!
While undeniably important, basic financial actions and recommendations from experts place your logical brain in the financial driver's seat.
In contrast, mindful spending allows your heart to decide, while your logical self is in the passenger seat on life's financial journey. Your heart is determining the destination and how scenic (or straight-forward) the road trip is, with your mind simply navigating the way.
Money is a tool to live. I want to embrace my life, not be one of the many bland cookie cutters. I want more from life than being practical and “safe”.
What about you?
Any frustrations experienced trying to decide which purchases to make are often a result of not knowing how to use your logical self while being guided by your heart. It is not a common skill taught in basic personal finance courses or books.
Mindful spending is a constant guide for how to utilize resources to live a life of delight instead of regret.
Why Practice Mindful Spending?
I struggled for years to achieve a healthy financial balance. After all my hard work, the thought of spending versus saving my money sounded blasphemy!
Plus, when I did spend, I would still hear the gurus whispering in my ear “save, save, save.” Even worse, their ideas of how to spend money wisely often left me feeling flat.
Today, I'm plonked in my favorite chair browsing computers online. In the sidebar an advertisement for patio furniture is prominently displayed. An opportunity for an all-inclusive skiing package pops up on the bottom of my screen catching my eye too.
I've been considering all 3 of these purchases. However, I only have enough spending money for one in order to live within my means.
Which of these options is the best for me right now?
If you have ever been in a similar spot, mindful spending may be your answer.
Benefits of Mindful Spending
The answer to how to spend your money is never an easy one.
Every person I speak with has a different perspective on when, where, and what I should buy. While the when and where maybe a challenge at times, mindful spending has empowered me in determining the what.
Without practicing this form of mindfulness, I would be emotionally torn sitting in my chair pondering the 3 unique choices.
However, I practice mindful spending which offers 4 key benefits:
- Increases my spending confidence
- Reduces the odds of buyer's remorse
- Decreases the stress of decision making
- Creates a life I love.
The Goal of Mindful Spending
Don't misunderstand, mindful spending is not a reckless pursuit of any and all purchase opportunities that tug on your heart.
The goal, instead, is to slow down and gain an appreciation of how money helps you live.
Yes, you need all the practical money management tips touted by financial experts. After all, without responsible management, being mindful with money may still end in heartbreak. Hello, credit card debt for concert tickets to your favorite band or repeat trips for beers with your buddies.
Yet all the practical money management habits will never bring you unfettered joy or express the true you.
The practice of mindful spending allows you to relish your life. Every. Single. Day.
Mindful Spending Basics
Relishing life. Doesn't that sound wonderful?
Trust me, it is!
The underlying requirement for this practice is knowing who you are. To start your journey, define:
- your life goals (not financial goals)
- your top values
Yes and no.
Self-reflection is harder than you may think.
You and I are bombarded daily by what someone else tells us we should want (family, friends, colleagues, social media, billboards, TV, etc.). Pushing past all this noise is the hardest part of your journey.
I promise the efforts to discover what really drives you are worthwhile. However, who you are today is not who you will become tomorrow.
Which leads to the next critical component of mindful spending.
Mindful Spending is Lifelong
most financial actions, mindful spending is a lifelong pursuit. This is not a “check the box and it's done” activity.
Learning the skill of mindful spending takes time and effort.
Even years after starting, the art of mindful spending sometimes escapes me. But I don't stop trying.
I am on a relentless quest for a life of meaning and joy. Every day I continue to practice mindfulness so it becomes effortless. I crave the joy found each time I am successful – and learn from each mindless spending mistake.
This art form is not about finding peace, paying off debt, maximizing your discounts at the store, or even building a large retirement nest egg.
Mindful spending is mastering a thought process driven by your heart to ensure every penny in your pocket reflects your individuality and creates a life uniquely yours.
As for the purchase from my favorite chair? I'm writing these words on a new computer.
I chose to create a life empowering me to share my thoughts and ideas more easily with you.
What do you think?
Are you ready to practice mindful spending and make your money more you?
Next: Mindful spending for beginners
- 16 Budgeting Myths That Are Holding You BackBudgets have gotten a bad rap over the years, let's change that. If you are most people you will have started a few and given up on them within a few weeks or even days. This is probably because the budget was commenced with the wrong premise in mind. A budget is a powerful tool that will help you find where your money is going and channel it into things that make life better. Here are the most common budgeting myths that are holding you back.
Mindfulness and Money: 5 Life-Changing Steps For A Happier Relationship
Mindfulness has originated from ancient teachings, often from the East. And many of those teachings were given for ‘free’, often in exchange for gifts of food, shelter and clothing.
But as mindfulness has become secularised, and most people in the west who teach mindfulness have jobs, mortgages, children and the need to make a financial income to buy food, shelter, clothing and the odd vacation – those people need to make an income to survive.
But, I’ve noticed, both in myself and others, a sense of discomfort in charging money for our time. Feelings of guilt, stress and confusion came up. I also used to teach mindfulness for free, and only began charging a fee when I discovered that my students seem to value the classes more and attend more regularly when they paid. And they were more grateful for the classes too!
But more recently, I’ve made another discovery.
I’ve spent much of my life helping people to reduce their stress through mindfulness and meditation. But I’ve been surprised to discover that money is the leading cause of stress in most people’s lives.
If money is the key cause of your stress, then you can meditate all you want, but the stress will keep coming back.
Having started doing some evidence-based research on the topic to find out what is the REAL cause of this money stress, rather than just what people guess, here’s what I found are the key steps to ease your money worries and get to the root of the issue.
I think there’s a lot of people sharing ideas around money and get rich schemes etc. This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about exploring how we can cultivate a healthy, happy relationship with money, so we have enough money to be able to lead a good life and also don’t get so obsessed chasing money that it impacts our health or relationships. What’s the right balance?
These insights are research in the field of Financial Psychology by Dr. Braz Klontz and colleagues. I’ll be sharing more about his work in future posts in this area.
Some of the big untruths around your financial difficulties are:
It’s your fault
It’s because you’re lazy
It’s beyond your ability to manage money
These are all untrue!
Years of research has found money difficulties don’t stem from your rational thinking mind.
Financial psychologists have found self-destructive financial behaviours are the results of early experiences around money and the unconscious and unhelpful beliefs held around money.
According to these financial psychologists, here’s the top 5 tips for overcoming your difficulties with money:
You need to start by getting real about your finances – this can be tough. You may need to overcome feelings of stress, anxiety and shame and get honest.
It may help to know that money is the main cause of stress for three four Americans, and one of the leading causes of stress in the UK too. So, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, it’s the norm for money to be the cause of your stress.
The good news is, you can do something about it – yes, even you if you feel you’ve never managed it before.
Consider questions :
Are you saving enough money?
Are you tracking what you spend?
Do you spend more money than you make?
Do you avoid thinking about money?
Don’t let shame keep you stuck! Face up to these questions and make way for a healthier relationship with money.
Having access to mindfulness can help you to be aware of your feelings of anxiety, guilt or shame, and not get overly drawn into them – observe them as you would any clouds in the sky.
Having a sense of distance between you and your feelings can help you work through the experience.
2. Look Into Your Past
This may be strange advice coming from the mindfulness fan. But your present moment beliefs about money are shaped by your past experience.
Consider these questions:
What were your early experiences around money?
Did you grow up poor, wanting more money?
Did you grow up wealthy and feel guilty about it?
Take a few minutes to write down what early memories and feelings come up for you around money.
Knowing these experiences helps you understand how you got to where you are now. By understanding the cause for your financial behaviour, you can begin making changes rather than blaming yourself. Start moving on from blame to taking your first small positive steps.
3. Discover your money beliefs
Your beliefs around money cause your financial reality.
What beliefs around money are hiding in your subconscious? They could be messing up your financial life and keeping you from achieving your goals.
Beliefs (which can be called money scripts) include:
More money will make me happier
Money corrupts people
Money is evil
My self-worth equals my net-worth
Amazingly, research shows money beliefs are linked to income.
So if you want to change your income, you will need to change your money beliefs. You need to first of all begin to become aware of your beliefs, and then begin to gently question their validity.
Will money really make you happier, if you’re earning more than £40,000 ($50k) per year?
Are all wealthy people really evil? What about people with less money – are they all good?
Is your sense of self-worth linked to how much you’re worth financially? Or is everyone’s self-worth equally important?
4. Visualise your financial goals
This isn’t fluffy stuff! To be able to reach reasonable financial goals, you do need to imagine and get really clear what you want.
Do you want to purchase your first home? Go on holiday? Perhaps go on a long retreat, or learn something new? Be specific about what you want and visualise it in detail.
One research where people created vision boards, including the saving goals people needed, increased savings behaviour by 73%.
An exciting visual picture of what you want will inspire you to take action!
5. Consider Finding a Financial Mentor, Therapist or Coach
If you have real issues with money, consider getting in touch with someone to help you out. Perhaps your counsellor or therapist can help. Or maybe you may need to do some research and find someone to support you. I’m pretty sure the investment will pay itself back many times, not just financially, but through a life with less stress and anxiety around money issues.
For more tips and advice, check out the field of financial psychology, or follow my blog posts for some more tips in the future. My approach will merge the findings from financial psychology with the power of baby steps from the science of behaviour change, and the power of kindfulness from the science of self-compassion – a unique mix!
If you’re really interested in this, contact me and let me know what way of learning would work best for you (1-2-1 coaching, short videos, online course, short blog posts, an ebook or what?!)
These ideas are not meant to be financial advice. For advice in the UK, check out the Money Advice Service. Or get in touch with an independent financial advisor in your country.