Mindfulness and Money

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It’s interesting how we’re becoming more and more aware of the benefits of mindfulness. Living in the era of cellphones, Instagram & Facebook we’re forever bombarded with other peoples successes, we’re able to find anything and see anything, and it’s easy to slip away from the “now” and the “present”.

That’s possibly why so much is written and spoken about mindfulness. It’s the fact that as a society we are not living as we should in terms of giving people the time they deserve, working on relationships and allowing ourselves be fully present in the moment and to enjoy life as we have it instead of forever longing for something different.

There are just too many distractions!

This may all sound philosophical but I want to bring this towards money and how we manage money in our lives.

If money is just a “thing” that we get by working, and we need it to trade in order to live, then surely we should be more aware of how much timed energy we put into earning it, and what value we get from spending it.

Think about all the times you simply walk into a shop, buy things and swipe your credit card without even having looked at the prices. You might not even need all the items you bought and you most probably weren’t really conscious of the money exchange. It’s just a mechanical exercise of taking things off a shelf and handing the cashier our card. We’re pretty oblivious to the actions involved.

Same goes for investments you have, you just assume that they’re doing alright and we often don’t even remember where the money is invested or how much we actually have.

Think about the time and energy you spend on all the various aspects of your life. Now think about the time and energy spend on managing your finances. Do you really give this area of your life the focus that is needed considering the importance of it?

Think about the benefits of being more mindful about your money:

  • Less financial stress
  • You will have a plan and know where you’re headed
  • Financial decisions become easier
  • You’ll feel in charge of your money
  • You’ll feel empowered

How to be more mindful about your money

Here are 5 ways to start with…

1 – Be conscious when spending money

First and foremost is a really simple step. Just be conscious when spending money.

Actually look at the prices of items and consciously decide whether you need something or not. This does not mean that you have to stop spending or stop going out, it simply requires you to be conscious of where your money is going and think about whether it’s the best way to spend it.

2 – Be honest about your financial situation

This step is slightly harder as we’re often scared to admit to our mistakes. You don’t need to feel guilty or be hard on yourself, simply take an honest look at your finances and figure out what the situation is.

You can start by calculating your net worth. This is pretty simple as you just need to take the value of all your assets (things that you own) and subtract the total value of all your debt.

Another good place to look is to list all your debt and the instalment amounts, due dates and interest rates charged. Figure out how to unwind your debt spiral.

Help! Where's my money gone?

Here’s a free download to help you see where your money is going.

3 – Practice managing your money better

So now that we’re being more conscious when spending money and we’ve taken a good look at what our financial situation is, it’s time to start practicing the change.

It doesn’t matter how good or bad your financial situation is, nor whether you budget or not. You simply need to consciously make a decision that you will start to practice * managing your money better.

* I was reminded that mindfulness is a practice, something that we keep working onto improve.

This can be done by:

  • reading a book or two
  • following personal finance blogs
  • speaking to people you trust about how they manage money
  • setting some small goals
  • follow personal finance podcasts

You don’t need to do anything drastic, just make some small changes to habits and slowly improve things.

4 – Set aside time for your money

I know that you’re busy; we all are! But, 10 – 15 minutes a day spent at looking at your finances can make a huge difference!

  • When last did you check all the deductions on your pay check?
  • Do you ever check your credit card statement?
  • How about your bank statements?
  • Do you track your expenses?
  • Do you know what all the investments are that you have, and the value of each?
  • Are the beneficiaries listed on your investments correct?
  • Are all your tax submissions up to date?
  • Do you chat about any savings goals with your significant other?
  • Have you ever read a finance book to help you manage your money better?
  • Do you know what major expenses are coming up in the next few months?

As you can see, there are many things that you can do if you just set aside a few minutes a day.

Tebogo (a reader) chatted to me about how he makes time for his money. It’s a great interview to listen to!

5 – Talk about money

The final tip for today is to talk about money. It’s strange that money plays such a vital role in everyones lives but yet we’re afraid to discuss it.

You don’t have to share personal facts and figures but rather ask your friends how they manage money in their relationships, what habits they have. What’s the worst money mistake they made, what’s the best decision they’ve made.

There’s absolutely no shame in talking about money!

In closing

Practicing mindfulness can have a tremendous effect on your life! Don’t underestimate the effect of including your finances in your daily practice of mindfulness and give yourself time to understand your relationship with money and why you do the things you do.

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