Keeping tabs: adding mindfulness to your money
January 5, 2023
Establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship with money is a multi-faceted journey.
But perhaps one of the most important elements is to foster a sense of awareness of your financial situation, not just as a once-off, but as ongoing.
Paying attention to your money, how much you have, how much you’re spending, what you’re saving, and where you could cut back is important. If you can practice being mindful of your money, you’ll grow more comfortable and confident about your financial situation.
In this article, we’re going to explore how to apply the theory of mindfulness to money.
What is mindfulness and how does it apply to money?
Mindfulness is the art of being fully present. It is nurturing a sense of awareness around your environment, thoughts, and circumstances, no matter what they look like at the time.
You can apply mindfulness to money by choosing to be present with your finances and not shy away from them. To practise awareness around your money means to be open, attentive and accepting. This allows for a healthier relationship with money to thrive.
How do you pay attention to important money matters?
Money matters make up some of life’s essentials such as rent, groceries, travel, and healthcare.
By paying attention to the money that flows in and out of your life, you may find it a lot easier to practise healthy spending habits and keep money in your control.
If you’re not sure how to pay more attention to your money matters, here are some good places to start:
- Track your income and expenses – The more you know about your finances, the easier it will be to manage them. If you can find a way to track your monthly income, bills and expenses it will work wonders for your relationship with money.
- Create a budget– If you don’t already have one, a budget can help provide structure to your long-term financial health. Try something like Sorted’s budgeting tool.
Ultimately, paying attention to money matters is a mental shift that may take time to develop. Just like any healthy habit, it requires consistency and commitment.
How much attention is enough?
Your relationship with money should be well-balanced. If you pay too much attention to it, you may become stressed and hyper-fixate on every expense. However, if you pay too little attention to it, you may lose track – leading to poor money management.
The “right” amount of attention lies somewhere in between.
Ideally, you should have a clear understanding of your financial status and goals, while not allowing it to take control of your life.
If you’re not sure that your money management is sufficient and you struggle with what areas you need to pay attention to, you could call MoneyTalks, a free financial helpline to find a financial mentor or you could speak to your bank to see what options they have available, or .even take a free online bookkeeping course. This could equip you with the skills you need and help you to feel more comfortable managing your money.
You’ll know you’re paying a healthy degree of attention when you’re confident and have a clear picture of your finances, but not to the point that you can’t think about anything else.
What areas should you keep tabs on?
When it comes to keeping tabs on your money, there are some key areas to be aware of. Once you have developed an understanding of these areas, your money matters can more easily thrive.
- Income/salary – The amount of money coming into your account(s) each month.
- Bills – The cost of your mortgage or rent, electricity, water, and other basic utilities.
- Debt – Money that you owe that needs to be paid off.
- Expenses – Items you spend money on outside of utilities, such as travelling, takeaways or other personal expenses.
- Savings – Money you set aside each month to save for rainy days.
These five key money areas should form the basis of your awareness of money.
In many ways, you can even treat money as if it were a business. You could use Sorted’s budgeting tool to track how much money you’re getting in, what you’re spending this money on, and what’s left over at the end of the month. When you keep tabs on these fundamental aspects of personal money management, mindfulness will naturally develop.
How can you create good money mindfulness habits?
Creating healthy money mindfulness habits, unfortunately, doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. Just like healthy exercise habits or a healthy diet, creating a mindful approach to money requires real effort on a mental and even a psychological level.
But with enough time and consistency, anyone can foster mindfulness around money habits.
Take a look at these four tips to start yourself off with:
- Reflect without judgement – Many of us have been taught to equate wealth with self-worth. However, this can be a destructive thought process. Instead, try to reflect on your finances without judgement and learn to separate them from your value as an individual.
- Separate wants from needs – Some things are worth spending money on, and others are not. Learn to separate wants from needs so as to spend your money more wisely.
- Become aware of your impulses – While it’s absolutely fine to spend some well-earned cash on yourself every now and then, identifying what your impulses are (i.e. unnecessary gadgets, clothing, or holidays) will help you resist the temptation to splurge.
- Practise gratitude for what you have – A big part of money mindfulness has to do with practising Mindfulness and seeing the value in what you already have go hand in hand.
Mindfulness can be used as a powerful tool for reducing money anxiety, improving your financial decisions, and encouraging you to become more resistant towards needless spending.
However, it’s also important to remember that mindfulness is not a magic wand that will make all your money problems disappear. Instead, rather see it as a tool to support you on your path as you strive to make better, more value-aligned financial decisions.