Are you a spender or a saver? Do you get more of a buzz from splashing the cash or stashing it away?
I have to fess up to being a reformed over-spender – shopping was my religion for more years than I’d like to admit.
So I understand the thrill of the chase – finding that perfect leather jacket (even though I’ve already got five), that amazing pair of jeans that make my thighs look skinny and my butt look great (although to everyone else they look exactly the same as all the rest).
But I also know how it feels to be in debt – the sleepless nights, penny pinching and being economical with the financial truth.
These days I’m much more money-mindful. Over time I began to see that overspending was just so damn wasteful. It felt empty, a vicious circle of want, desire and unfulfilled need – as well as a colossal waste of time and energy that could be used for something way more productive.
Finally I had a lightbulb moment that flipped my attitude completely.
Instead of seeing ‘not spending’ as ‘deprivation’ – denying myself all the lovely things I desired, I reframed it as ‘wealth creation’. I realised I could use money to create a different kind of wealth – experiences, memories, education, security, connection, simplicity – as opposed to just accumulating more stuff.
Arriving at this realisation wasn’t easy. It look a lot of time, stress and soul searching for me to get here.
I followed some simple (not necessarily easy!) steps along the way and I’m happy to share them in the hope they’ll make your journey to money mindfulness a little shorter.
Keep a spending diary
Write down every penny you spend – either in a dedicated notebook or use an App (try CashFlow Free). You will spend less. FACT. Knowing you have to note down any expenditure means you’ll think twice before you flash the cash and you’ll see where you spend unnecessarily. The latte habit, glossy magazines, weekly take-out…. reframe these extras as the treats they are rather than an everyday fix.
Increase your awareness
Download your bank’s app into your smartphone and check your account balance daily. The more you check your balance the less you’ll splurge. The opposite is also true – the more in the dark you are about your finances, the easier it is to spend irresponsibly.
Commit to cash
Parting with cold hard cash is much harder than paying with plastic. It gives you a reality check – you really see the amount of money you’re handing over and that can help you press the pause button long enough to ask some key questions.
Do I need it? (as opposed to just wanting it)
Do I already have something similar or that does the same job?
Can I borrow it?
Do I have the money in my account right now to spend on it?
Remember, if you didn’t know it existed you couldn’t want it. Give yourself some cooling off time. There’ll always be gorgeous stuff around to tempt you. Be mindful of how you’re being manipulated rather than seeing it as deprivation. Ten minutes later you’ll feel happier that you didn’t spend the money. And that good feeling makes it easier to resist the impulse next time.
Visualise your goals
Knowing why you want something makes you more likely to achieve it. So get specific about why you want to spend less. Take a pen and paper and jot down your top five. Mine look like this:
1. Treat my family to an amazing summer holiday.
2. See two new bands this year.
3. Have monthly kiddie free away-days with my man.
4. Set a good example for my kids so they grow up being money mindful.
5. Encourage gratitude – I’m already blessed with so much, true happiness is not about owning more stuff!
When you feel the spending impulse taking over, visualise your list. Introducing that picture interrupts your usual response, creating a pause between wanting something and actually buying it. And staying true to your values will bring a bigger buzz than any new pair of shoes could ever give.
See the bigger picture
Look beyond your front door. There’s already so much waste in the world. Do you really want to add to it? Isn’t it more pleasurable to to love what you already have rather than endlessly lust after more?
I can’t quite believe I’m writing it, but not spending money makes me feel abundant rather than deprived. I make a valuable contribution towards the cost of running our home and family. I’m also setting a great example to my children. And I love being able to pay for family trips and holidays, sharing experiences and creating happy memories that have a long lasting positive effect for all of us. (Rather than the fleeting high of a new purchase which dissipated as soon as it was made.)
No longer in the red – money-mindfulness is the new black.
How about you? Are you money mindful? Need some accountability or want to share your tips for pressing the money pause button? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.