Anytime we read higher-consciousness articles, we are almost guaranteed to encounter the word “mindfulness” or some derivative of it.
Although it is an ancient Buddhist practice, mindfulness is now a mainstream concept.
As a spiritual money coach, I’m often attracted to anything and everything that is considered mindful. However, I seldom encounter the words spending and mindfulness in the same sentence. Yet, once we dig deeper, we discover how they are indeed interconnected concepts.
Mindfulness is defined by Wikipedia as “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment […] It is also an attribute of consciousness long believed to promote well-being.”
Hence, if mindfulness promotes well-being, can’t we practice mindful spending in order to improve our financial well-being? Wouldn’t this tame our money challenges?
Essentially, mindful spending requires elevating our awareness as we are in the midst of spending money, not after the fact. Similar to eating a meal in a hurry while being on “auto pilot” puts us far on the mindfulness spectrum, spending money without being mindful of it also places us far on the financial mindfulness spectrum. Most importantly, mindful spending entails understanding the motives behind our purchases.
It’s about digging deeper within ourselves at the moment of our purchase and uncovering what emotions we are hoping to achieve by acquiring a certain item:
Are we spending because we are feeling bored and we want to entertain ourselves?
Perhaps we had a stressful day at work and we feel like we deserve a treat?
Did our ego take a hit and we want to feel better about ourselves?
Are we trying to live up to other people’s expectations?
Did our friend buy something similar and we indirectly feel obliged to have it?
Have we been projecting a certain social image and we have to keep up with it regardless if we can truly afford it or not?
These are some of the questions we can ask ourselves in the midst of the act of spending money, in order to learn how to master the art of mindful spending.
Another practical way to become a more mindful spender is to write the following series of questions on a small post-it note and sticking it on our credit card and/or debit card:
Do I absolutely need this now?
Can I truly afford it?
Will it make me genuinely happier?
Will it move me closer to my most important financial goals?
Getting in the habit of asking ourselves these questions as we are pulling out our credit cards will help us become more financially self-aware.
As a result of digging into the real causes of our spending, we give ourselves the opportunity to notice those times when we are chasing instant gratification or perhaps attempting to fulfill a more profound, unmet need.
It is vital to remember that our deepest needs are never fulfilled with spending money. Feeling a lack of love cannot be fixed with buying gifts to friends, having a low self-esteem cannot be remedied by filling up on fashionable clothing, and going through inner turmoil cannot be alleviated with any number of spa treatments. These deeper needs can only be met from within. When we try to fulfill them with products and services, we will only be treating temporary and superficial symptoms, and not dealing with the real source of our ailment.
A great mantra we can silently repeat to practice mindful spending is:
“I have enough.
I am enough.”
In other words, we are affirming:
“I have enough of everything that marketers are trying to sell me. I am enough and I do not need any material possessions to prove my true self- worth.”
Feeling like we don’t have enough or that we are not enough can be a major trigger for overspending and losing our financial way. Unlike what society wants us to believe, our self-worth is certainly not correlated to our net worth. We simply do not need to have enough in order to feel enough. We were enough when we were five-minute old babies, without any possessions or accomplishments; we are still enough today, regardless of what we have, or don’t have.
Mastering the art of mindful spending is crucial to keeping our finances in check. It helps us better understand our spending habits, the real motives behind them and helps us stay on the right financial track. Most importantly, it will teach us how not to fulfill deeper unmet needs with money and stuff.
Author: Lama Farran
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Tax Credits/Flickr