Mindfulness, or the practice of being fully present in the moment and aware of your surroundings, might bring to mind a yoga class or a meditation app. But it can actually be applied to many aspects of your life, including your finances — and can be particularly helpful when it comes to how you spend money. Here’s one expert’s take on how financial mindfulness can help you control impulse spending.
WHAT IS FINANCIAL MINDFULNESS AND HOW CAN IT BENEFIT YOU?
At its core, financial mindfulness helps you make strategic rather than emotional choices about your money so that you feel less anxious about your finances. But rather than erasing your feelings from the decision-making process entirely, financial mindfulness encourages both your brain and your gut instincts to work together.
For instance, when you make big purchases based on your mood, you’re basing it “primarily on your emotions, as opposed to making a more balanced decision,” says Janine Ilsley, a licensed therapist in New York. By detaching yourself from the emotional pull of spending money, “financial mindfulness brings a more harmonious relationship with money matters that unwittingly impact the alignment of your wants and needs.”
In other words, when you’re being financially mindful, you’re less likely to binge shop as a way to deal with stress at work because you know you’ll regret the credit card bill that comes later.
HOW TO PRACTICE FINANCIAL MINDFULNESS TO CURB SPENDING
But how do you put financial mindfulness into practice? Ilsley offers these steps.
Check in with yourself before, during and after making a purchase to take stock of how you’re feeling. Be honest with yourself — not judgmental — so you can get a sense of the kinds of purchases that fulfill you the most.
Plan your purchases in advance, ideally at a time when you’re feeling relaxed and clear-headed. Make a list of purchases you want to make for the next quarter or even the coming year. The next time you’re tempted to buy something, come back to this list to see how the purchase aligns with what you actually need.
If the purchase in question isn’t on the list, ask yourself, “Will I be thankful I made this purchase tomorrow?” If the answer is no, skip it for now. The goal is to slow down and think critically about each spending opportunity.
It may not come naturally at first, but the more you put these tips into practice, the more your mindful spending will become a habit. Over time, you may feel it gets easier to stick to your budget — and you may even notice that you’re making a bigger dent in your debt and more progress on your financial goals.