Being more self-aware in both thought and action is crucial to being a healthier, happier you. It’s no wonder that cultivating a more mindful self is so in vogue these days, but while mindfulness is usually discussed in terms of your spiritual or emotional awareness, it’s important to not overlook the more practical applications that affect your everyday life. For example, being more mindful of your finances.
Being more fiscally aware can help you prioritize your expenses, spend less, save more, and meet your financial goals. But how can you develop a healthier relationship with your finances? Here are a few ways you can be more mindful with your money.
Swiping cards tends to make us lose touch with our money and where it’s going. Keep a journal to record your expenses, and give yourself a day or two each week to review your expenditures. You can also opt to use Mint.com or the Mint App and set up custom alerts to help you track your spending and avoid going over-budget. It can even let you know if you’re racking up too many ATM fees or if your account is low, which may help you keep more of your money and avoid relying on an auto title loan later.
Simply skimming over your monthly statements is a bad habit that can hold you back from meeting your long-term financial goals. When you know how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on, you can better identify patterns and bad habits that might be draining your bank account unnecessarily. Developing the practice of tracking your finances can help you become more conscious of your purchases and how they affect your bottom line.
Every decision you make has a compounded effect on the direction your finances are taking you. What do your spending habits say about where you’re headed? It’s a lot easier to spend money when you don’t realize what you might be giving up later on in your life. If you’re spending $100 a week on ordering in and eating out, or commuting from Tula Rosa to Tesuque, that’s less cash each month to put toward your dream getaway, paying off debt, and even enjoying your retirement.
Make a list of how you want your money to be used, and another that details exactly how your money is actually being spent to see how much (or how little) these lists align. Perhaps a happy-hour-habit is keeping your dreams of traveling on the back burner or stress-shopping is siphoning away your new car fund. Take some time to examine how your money is really being used, and take the steps required to make your budget work for you today and in the future.
Are you prone to impulse buying? Those familiar with gun laws might already be familiar with this expression, but it’s always a good idea to give yourself a “waiting period” before pulling the trigger on making a big purchase. There are of course outliers like emergency expenses that just can’t wait, but you may want to determine if your needs are really just wants before making big purchases that could derail your budget.
Give yourself a day to think about your purchase and whether the value it brings to the table justifies the cost. You may also want to consider making yourself a pros and cons list for your potential purchase if you’re still considering it after 24 hours. This could help you keep track of potential practical problems your purchase may present, such as taking up too much space in your home or the long-term cost of owning the item.
Curb your spending cravings by reminding yourself of all the things you already have. Sometimes we spend on things we don’t need because we don’t have a clear understanding of what we actually own. Instead of using your free time to shop-shop-shop, make a day of going through your belongings – you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
Are you a gamer? Take some time to review your collection. You might have some games you haven’t already played in your entertainment center or hard drive. Bookworms, rediscover your library. You’re sure to find a hidden gem or two that have been overlooked or are long overdue for another read. And if you love clothing, check out your dresser or closet before hitting the mall; if shopping is your sport of choice, chances are you’ll find shoes still in their boxes or clothes with tags still on them just waiting to be rediscovered.
Being realistic about and grateful for what you have already is at the heart of cultivating a more mindful self. Start with your finances and work your way to your personal affects, or vice-versa – whatever comes more naturally to you. Developing a more minimalist mentality and cutting excess and distractions from your life could help you achieve your personal and financial goals sooner than you ever thought possible.