When most people hear the word “mindfulness”, they think of a person meditating in the lotus position while burning incense. However, the truth is that mindfulness doesn’t require chanting, patchouli, or yoga. Mindfulness is something you can easily incorporate into your everyday life. It can help improve your personal financial situation, especially if you’ve been struggling with saving or spending money.
First, let’s define mindfulness and how you can achieve it. Mindfulness is nothing more than being fully aware of the present moment. That means leaving behind distractions like your phone and your worries and focusing fully on the sensations and experiences around you. Most people are not able to tap into the present moment 100%; they find their brain is always buzzing and churning, but it is possible to become more aware of the present moment.
Below are three ways to be more mindful in your daily life without escaping to a silent retreat.
Take yourself off “auto-pilot”
During a regular day, we do many tasks on autopilot like driving to and from work, taking a shower, washing the dishes, or completing other mundane chores. Instead of letting your mind wander, pay attention to the experience. Take a new route to work and notice all the sights around you or really pay attention to the sensations you experience in the shower.
We often lose our patience when we’re stuck in traffic or waiting in a long line. However, these are perfect times to practice mindfulness. Impatience is simply a sign that you’ve taken yourself out of the moment. Instead, focus on what’s happening around you and fully appreciate it. When you’re stuck in traffic, admire the sunset or fluffy clouds, and when you’re waiting in line, observe the humanity around you.
Get comfortable with silence
Many people turn on the radio or TV for distraction when they’re alone. Or, they’ll scroll through their Instagram and Facebook feeds which can really push you to spend when you see someone showing off their new purse or shoes. The next time you find yourself with some idle alone time, simply sit with yourself and your thoughts – and try to get comfortable with the silence and doing nothing. Now that you know some easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life, let’s get into how to use this great technique to help improve your relationship with personal finance.
Here are five ways you can apply mindfulness techniques to improve your personal finance situation.
The way you start your morning matters
When you think about the first moments when you wake up, what does that look like for you? For many, it starts off with grabbing their cellphone and checking messages and social media. But beginning those first wakeful moments with thought and intention instead of diving right into your to do list, has the potential to transform the day ahead.
As soon as you open your eyes, pause for a few moments. Focus on your breathing and think about how you want to show up for the day. Maybe you want to practice being more patient, more intentional with your spending, or even more generous towards others. However, it looks for you, determining the mental direction of your day will help bring forth the qualities you are looking cultivate.
Stop Impulse Shopping
If impulse purchases are a struggle for you, learning how to be present can help you take control of your spending habits. Taking a moment to pause before an online purchase or using a credit card is an effective strategy for being more mindful with your finances.
Establish a rule that prior to making a purchase over a certain dollar amount (i.e. $50 or $100), you will give yourself time to mull it over. Take a minimum of 24 hours or longer to see if you still want to buy the item after the time passes. Chances are, your want will fizzle. If you find you still want to buy it, always refer to your budget and make sure you can work it in.
Another strategy to use with purchases is to calculate the amount of time you would need to work to pay for your purchase. For example, if you earn $20 per hour (after taxes) buying a $200 purse will cost you 10 hours of work. That is a good day of work plus some Ask yourself if you think all that work is worth it, you may decide it is not. Engaging in these mindful practices will help you decide more clearly if a purchase is necessary and in line with your financial goals.
Learn to let go of those things that are outside of your control
Noticing your negative thought patterns and letting go of them is a key practice in being more mindful. When you focus on negative thoughts for an extended period, you are creating undue stress for yourself. These thoughts can be anything from being hit with a large unexpected expense or being laid off from your job. As worrisome as these occurrences may be, you need to turn your attention towards what you can control.
Reframe your mindset by giving thought to what actions and behaviors you can adopt that will help you reach your financial goals. If you are in debt over your head and your credit has taken a hit, put energy toward finding a credit repair company that can help you get back on track. If you haven’t started an emergency fund for those unexpected expenses, focus on opening a savings account for that. Are you contributing to a 401k or other retirement account? If not, figure out how to start saving for that now. The key takeaway here is that once you decide to focus on what you can control, take action.
Make financial decisions with more clarity
Making big financial decisions like whether to buy or rent or, which investments would set you up best for retirement can be overwhelming for many people. These are personal financial decisions and there isn’t one right or wrong answer. With that being said, using mindfulness techniques can help bring clarity to the decision-making process. Pausing to focus on your breathing as it flows in and out of your body can help you become more aware of your feelings and true desires. When you approach financial decisions with clarity, it’s easier to drown out distractions, evaluate potential risk, and make those big and often scary financial decisions.
In order for you to see success with these mindfulness techniques, you need to use them consistently. When you first wake up, you have the opportunity to decide what your spending pattern will be for the day and make sure that it is aligned with your long-term money goals. The freshness of the morning is the best time of day but whenever you feel you can do this consistently is the right time for you.
Now that you know some practical ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life, take the time to think about your feelings and habits surrounding money. Saving and spending money wisely requires awareness. Do you overspend when you’re sad or anxious? Do you have trouble saving money because you haven’t set any financial goals? When you’re aware of your feelings and habits, you can take steps to change them. However, if you’re living your life distracted by your surroundings and thoughts, you may never take the time to consider your beliefs about money.