Using mindfulness can help us to become more in tune with the financial pillar of our holistic wellness. How? By allowing us to better understand how our financial choices are linked to our overall wellness and happiness. Some people spend when they feel sad, others spend when they feel happy. Some people feel like they are on an emotional high after shopping or spending money, others feel guilty and overwhelmed. Some of us spend frivolously and some of us are much more frugal.
There is value in taking some time to understand where you fall on this spectrum so that you can make stronger decisions moving forward. Here are three ways to incorporate mindfulness into your financial choices and wellness.
1. Pay close attention to your motives for spending
Sometimes we head to a store for a day out, not quite needing anything—but open to the possibility of spending. Sometimes we make an intentional trip because we are lacking something and see value in purchasing it. Regardless of the motivation, be mindful of it. Take note of whether or not you need or want what you are purchasing. The answer might not change your decision, but this extra level of reflection has merit. We spend so much of our lives running on autopilot—so our financial choices sometimes fall right in line with this habit of mindless existence. When we are mindfully intentional in our actions, in whatever area of our lives/wellness we are working on—we allow ourselves to feel more connected to and secure about the decisions that we make.
2. Reflect on how your choices make you feel
This is both an in-the-moment and after-the-fact reflection. In the moment, consider how reaching for that item makes you feel. Are you excited about it? Are you pretty neutral? Are you feeling slightly stressed even looking at the price tag? What emotions drove you to pick up the item in the first place? Are you in a good place today or are you feeling a bit down? Then, after you make a purchase, think about how you feel in the hours, days or weeks after. Do you still love your item when you bring it home? Are you still happy about your spending during an evening out after the night is over? How do you feel when it’s time to pay off your credit card? Do you feel validated, knowing that your statement is manageable and a reflection of things that make you happy? Are you feeling guilty, knowing that your spending was out of range and slightly unnecessary? These are all important emotions to consider as you spend this time in a reflective state. Again, you might not be making any changes yet—but awareness is the first step to change. Right now, just bring awareness to something you might have otherwise neglected to acknowledge.
3. Be mindful of your priorities
When we spend in line with our priorities, the purchases always seem slightly more acceptable. Do you value traveling? Then maybe spending $___on a shopping trip isn’t the best use of your resources. Are you a fan of collectors’ items? Then maybe a larger purchase in this category is exactly what brings you joy. Do you love to be charitable or buy for others? Then this might shift some of your decisions on personal spending. The point is to be mindful of the priorities you have in life and to allocate your resources appropriately. Without this mindful attention to what you value—you lack the helpful guidance in knowing if your purchases are in line with who you are and what makes you happy.
As we move through a time of year that is notoriously known for financial stress, be mindful of how your spending affects your wellness and your happiness. Understand your motives, your emotions and your priorities. Your knowledge of these areas will guide you to making healthier financial decisions that hopefully result in less stress and more positive feelings and wellness effects.