Three ways to take control and get more mindful about your money

There are many financial factors out of your control right now: rising cost of living, persistent supply chain shortages, interest rate increases, a cooling housing market and so on.

But what work in your control is how you go about managing, and thinking of, your personal finances.

I’ve had the good fortune of working in the space of positive money for psychology over a decade and with confidence (plus copious amounts of research) I can say that a large majority of what happens in our financial lives is driven by our state of mind.

Think about it like this: if you feel financially empowered, you will be predisposed to making better choices when it comes to the investments you select. If you truly believe your skills and talents are valuable, you will be more likely to pursue higher income-earning avenues or choose to invest in your education, which could lead to greater income. If you have strong mindfulness about your needs versus wants, you are more likely to overcome impulse spending urges that often lead to debt. And if you hold a core value that financial wellness is a cornerstone of a healthy intimate partner relationship, you will be more likely to choose a life partner with the same values ​​and have a much lower probability of separation and divorce.

And, when it comes to raising financially well children, the number one factor at play is YOU; how you think and feel about your finances influences how they will think and feel about their own finances — for better or worse.

If a stronger financial state of mind is what you want for your life, and your family, focus on a few of these mindful money practices.

Intentional spending

This practice starts with being aware of your spending habits and then choosing to allocate your hard-earned money toward things that help to improve your life and happiness. It means saying goodbye to simply grabbing just anything off the shelf, and taking a literal step back to examine the price, whether the item is necessary and comparing alternatives.

an example would be cruising through the checkout line at your favorite store, and consciously deciding to only purchase what you set out to get; say winter boots for your eight-year-old. Buying gummies and new dish cloths you don’t need right at the til is impulsive and doesn’t help your life. So, you smile and walk away with what you set out to purchase. You feel powerful. The money you didn’t spend on impulse can be used towards a fun family activity or groceries.

Here’s an important factoid to keep in mind; stores (digital and online) are designed to try and activate your impulsive tendencies. The music, the smells, the layout — it’s all in an effort to encourage spending. An interesting study commissioned by Interac revealed that listening to mindful music when shopping, rather than the latest pop tune the store is playing, can bring a very healthy financial consciousness to the shopping process, and reduce impulsive spending. They’ve actually gone ahead and released this music track called Sound Shopping. Personally, when I shop I turn the Calm app on.

Take a powerful pause

I teach the 24-hour rule for anything that costs more than $100 to my student community and that includes grocery shopping. Before you pull that debit or credit card out, or sign the dotted line for a buy-now-pay-later purchase, pause. Research shows that 24 hours is enough time to quell impulsive spending urges and improve financial decision making.

An example of this would be pausing 24 hours before grocery shopping to make a meal plan and then a list of groceries, pick the most economical store to purchase from and use up what you already have in your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer before adding duplicate foods that could become food waste. Another example is buying a high-ticket item such as a vehicle, home or even a new television. Stepping back to really consider the benefits of the purchase can greatly reduce the chances of buying something you can’t afford … and then suffering through the payments for years afterwards.

The other nifty thing about a 24 hour pause is that it increases financial satisfaction. That’s because the pause requires a shift in money mindset where you take control of the purchase situation rather than letting impulses run amok.

Earmark spending for wellness

It is healthy to spend money on what will make you and your family well financially, physically, mentally, environmentally and socially. The mindful ritual of planning your spending (also known as budgeting) will ensure you can afford the vitamins you need or to hire the most qualified money coach, therapist or trainer, for example. It also sets out intentions around saving and investing for the future.

You can amplify your financial mindfulness with daily gratitude for the money you do have, keeping a journal of your financial aspirations, feelings and challenges and getting clear on your vision for the future.

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