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You’ve probably heard about incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine to reduce anxiety and live in the moment. And according to a recent study reported by CNBC, money ranks as the biggest worry for Americans. An approach to combating this ongoing concern is to practice financial mindfulness which can help you gain awareness and purpose in the way you manage your relationship with your cash flow.
Follow these three steps to be more present with your finances.
The first step to achieving financial mindfulness is to create a goal you can focus on. Whether it’s paying off your credit card balance or saving up for a summer beach vacation, having that visual in place can be a strong catalyst for implementing more mindful habits for both spending and saving. To do this, create a visual that you see every day to represent your goal, this could be an image as your smartphone background, a customized daily alarm that pops up on your phone or a memento that you keep in your wallet or purse.
Psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher, Sarah Harmon recommends daily affirmations to help keep your goal front and center in your mind. “It’s important to write affirmations and goals in the present tense because it positively shifts our belief system about ourselves and the habits we are seeking to change. When you use “I” and the present tense, there is ownership to the statement, and it becomes more real and believable. When we believe we are someone who is doing a particular healthy habit, we are more motivated to continue taking those habit actions that serve us.” Harmon recommends affirmations such as,
"I have a healthy relationship with money. I am worthy of making/having money. I deserve abundance in my life."
When you feel fulfilled by what you already have, you’re less likely to spend your money emotionally, even if you have a bad day. In most cases, retail therapy does more harm than good. Before you make a purchase, pause and try to envision your life with the purchase completed - are you going to feel any better? Is this spending activity going to fill whatever void you’re feeling? Can you delay the purchase a day to be mindful of impulsive purchases? As a part of your efforts to change impulsive spending behavior, identify activities that you enjoy and make you feel good to provide some reward or satisfaction in the moment that you’re triggered to spend. For example, take a walk, text a friend, or use a meditation app to help you pause and savor the things/people you currently have in your life.
To help you learn how to pause before spending, Harmon recommends identifying where you are most vulnerable to make a mindless purchase. Do you shop online when you're bored?
Do you get caught in social media ads? If you know when/how/where you are triggered to spend, make a rule for yourself such as, I have to wait 24 hours before making any social media purchases, or no online shopping during the week. If I truly want something, I can purchase it over the weekend. Taking the time to identify your triggers and create an intentional pause to be more mindful will “pay” off in the long run.
Emergency situations happen to everyone and they can come with a hefty price tag. Don’t beat yourself up if an unexpected expense temporarily derails you from working towards your goal. Accept that these situations are sometimes inevitable. You can even set aside an "emergency/unexpected cost" fund since you can't control when your dishwasher decides to stop working or when an accident leaves you with medical bills. Work towards growing your emergency savings and, more importantly, be grateful it’s there when it becomes necessary to use it.
Being mindful with your finances will help you to focus on making changes you’re in control of and allows you to react positively to situations that are out of your control. By taking a moment to pause and reflect on what's truly important to you, you'll feel better about your financial situation.