5Financial mindfulness might sound like some vague abstraction, but it’s really a simple concept. The idea is that when you increase your awareness of not just your spending habits but your thoughts and feelings about money itself, you can have a better relationship with your finances.
Achieving financial mindfulness isn’t linear. It’s a mix of both practical and emotional approaches — building up your financial health with tangible tips, but also decluttering your mind and building up your self-esteem. Essentially, by taking ownership of your actions and thoughts, you can achieve true financial mindfulness.
Here, you’ll find just a handful of tips to get you started on the path of financial mindfulness:
1. Look at your income objectively
We often look at our paychecks disapprovingly. Maybe we wish we had made more; maybe we’re cursing Uncle Sam for taking a bigger chunk than we expected. But when it comes to financial mindfulness, you can’t get caught up in the emotion of your paycheck. When you stop worrying about how much money you don’t have and start focusing on what you do have, you can have a clearer outlook and a better relationship with your financial situation overall.
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” – Dave Ramsey
2. Assess what you’ve been avoiding
Whether it’s that credit card bill, student loan or empty savings account, look at it, and I guarantee you’ll feel less stressed about it. How so? Well, whether it’s finances or a fight with your partner, problems seem to get bigger when you avoid acting. So, when it comes to your financial health, be mindful of the things you’ve been avoiding.
For example, maybe you’ve been afraid to look at your credit score because you missed a few payments and think it’s gone down. Today, many credit card companies offer a dashboard to access your credit score and interact with it so it feels less like an arbitrary number and more like something you can control.
Many times, you can even play with metrics to see how making changes to your habits or payments can affect your score. So, whether it’s your credit score or your savings account, by confronting what you’ve been afraid to know or deal with, you put the power to take control back in your own hands.
3. Build up your financial self-esteem
Setting large financial goals are like setting New Year’s resolutions — if they’re too big, you’re never going to get around to doing them. So, if you want to start saving money, start by making the effort to put away just 5% every month. While this might seem like a small amount, the mindful act of doing so is going to kick-start your goal and build up your self-esteem. Once that happens, you’ll be able to set bigger goals, too.
4. Clean house
Literally, clean your house. Make it a seasonal habit of going through your closet, your pantry and your home and taking an assessment of what you already have. When you can see all of your possessions, it’s easier to be mindful of what you actually need and helps eliminate frivolous spending.
“All money is a matter of belief.” – Adam Smith
5. Think before you swipe
A lot of experts will tell you to carry around cash so you can be more mindful of spending. But the fact of the matter is, that’s not always practical. What you can do however, is make a mental note every time you swipe. The action of being more conscious and less distracted while swiping can really help you feel more in control.
Think about it like this — you start buying $4 cappuccinos on your way to work while commuting with a coworker. For the first few swipes, it might seem like just a few bucks. But if you start taking the time to mentally check in while swiping, you’ll start to realize what that money can add up to in the long run.
Either that’s money you could be saving and allocating towards bills, or simply be putting to use on things you’d enjoy more. When you’re mindful, you have more choices.