Budgeting often feels like your head telling your heart what you can’t have. But there is a different way and it’s called mindful spending.
We like to think of ourselves as logical beings who make decisions – especially financial ones – with our heads. The truth, however, is that emotions always play a role. Studies done with people who had suffered damage to the parts of their brains where emotions are generated, showed that they found it very difficult to make decisions – even when they could describe what they should be doing in logical terms.
It therefore makes sense that we should acknowledge our emotions when we work with money and make financial decisions. And this brings us to mindful spending.
What is mindful spending?
Mindful spending is being aware of your emotions and your values and using that awareness to make spending decisions. The result is complete control over your spending, instead of letting money flow in and out of your life aimlessly.
Mindful spending is also about understanding “why”: why do you want to save? Why do you want to buy that flashy car? Why do you always pay for everybody’s drinks on a night out?
The wonderful thing is that when we stay mindful of how money makes us feel and how it supports our goals and dreams, our focus shifts from our money to our lives. Then having a budget is no longer an unpleasant chore but becomes a path to turning your dreams into reality.
How mindful spending can help you
1. It sets you up to reach your money goals
With mindful spending, you look at every expense in the light of your dreams and goals. When you stop spending money on things that don’t align with your values and goals, the money you do spend will automatically move you close to where you want to be. For example, if I am saving to send my child to university because I value education, I will be less likely to splurge on brand-name clothes.
2. It helps you to overcome obstacles
Mindful spending will show you your triggers. For example, what situations trigger you to spend money without thinking? Once you identify these triggers, you can change your habits to avoid them or to be more prepared to overcome the temptation to spend.
3. It helps you feel good about your money
When you spend on the things that are most important to you, you feel good about the money decisions you make. Feeling good helps you feel confident about your money, and this calms your money worries.
How to be a mindful spender
• Paint a picture for yourself of the life you want your money to help you create. Do you want to be debt free? Do you want to take your kids on a beach holiday every year? Do you want a house with a garden? Having this picture – or vision – gives your money purpose.
• Put your picture into a plan. This will include setting yourself specific savings targets, drawing up a budget and tracking your expenses.
• Observe and listen to the feelings that come up as you go about your day-to-day life. For instance, do you feel guilty after spending money? Do you feel like a failure because you are not saving enough? Do you feel ashamed of your debt? Sit with these emotions and ask yourself what these feelings are trying to tell you. And how can you use them to help you grow.
As with every new habit, mindful spending will take some practice to get into, but it is worth the effort. When you practice mindful spending, you feed the life you want for yourself, instead of allowing your money to come and go without serving a true purpose.Go back