Mindfulness has been shown to positively impact many aspects of our lives, from physical and emotional well being all the way to career success. But, when it comes to your own personal finances, it can be to easy to overlook the benefits of mindfulness practices.
Today, we’ll help you understand exactly how meditation and mindfulness can yield those positive benefits.
As someone who’s been on the bad side of burnout, stress, and a near mental breakdown, I’ve seen first-hand how this daily practice can drastically change your condition and outlook. So if you’re someone who hasn’t tried meditation or doesn’t quite know where to start, let this post serve as yet more evidence in favor of understanding your thoughts and mental outlook.
My friend Bernz is here to clue us in. Take it away, Bernz…
Unless you live under a really dense rock, you must have been hearing of the modish buzzword – mindfulness. All the way from Buddhist temples and practices, mindfulness has found its way into American society. Used in a secular sense as a therapy of sorts, mindfulness practice is fast gaining acceptance.
Its followers swear by its effectiveness in improving every aspect of life – from health and wellbeing to relationships.
And this is no new age mumbo-jumbo. The effectiveness of mindfulness is backed by hard science. Research carried out at Johns Hopkins University analyzed about 19,000 meditation studies and discovered that the practice of mindfulness helped improve anxiety, depression, and even relieve pain.
Additionally, participants showed an improvement in work ethic, attention, productivity, sleep, and financial habits.
So What Exactly is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the deliberate focus of one’s attention to thoughts and experiences happening in the present moment. And it’s usually developed through meditation and other training. Mindfulness requires you to pay no attention to anything in the past or future, seeing as the only time you live is in the NOW. It also about accepting your feelings, emotions and mind chatter without judgment.
Mindfulness is often practiced through activities that enable you to concentrate on one thing at a time, such as meditation, focused breathing, and exercises.
How then, can mindfulness put more money in your bank account?
You may not connect the two initially. But continue reading, and you’ll see how simple and effective applying mindfulness to your money matters can be.
4 Ways Mindfulness Can Help You Reach Your Money Goals
So, you have set your savings goals, started tracking your expenses, and have cut a really neat budget. But how has it been coming along? Are you, like most people, struggling to make them work? Here’s how mindfulness techniques can help you achieve more financially.
1. Mindfulness Can Mind Your Impulse Purchases
You’re mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed and…there it was. An exquisite sheath dress tailored in a sophisticated three-quarter sleeve silhouette. Enraptured, you can picture yourself chic and elegant in this figure-flattering apparel, at the office or a dinner party. And you pull out your credit card…
It’s all too easy to buy stuff on impulse. Most of the time you end up regretting the purchase and begin to think of the opportunity cost: debt you could have used the money to reduce or the stock you could have bought.
Being present is the perfect cure for impulse buying
Before you become overcome with emotion and click on that alluring buy button or go with your friends for your weekly shopping therapy sessions, pause and think. Remember that it wasn’t budgeted for; think of how much your saving goal will deviate.
Consider if the item is a need or want
Giving yourself time to mull over a purchase is very useful in helping you to be more mindful and spend judiciously.
Make it a habit of giving yourself time to think before making an unplanned purchase or another unnecessary spending. Usually, the dominant emotions at that point in time must have fizzled out, and you can now see clearly that you could actually live without the item.
An equally effective way to put your impulse buying in check is by using logic. It helps to view the cost of the item in term of the numbers of hours you’ll have to work to earn an equivalent amount. That designer handbag won’t be so attractive now that you know that about 20 hours of work is required to cover the price tag.
Being logical about buying stuff helps you to rationalize rather than be led on a tight leash by your emotions. And using time as a barrier between impulse and action enables you to reconsider with an uncluttered mind and make better spending choices. Consequently, your finances will be in better shape.
2. Better Financial Decision Making
Being more aware of your feelings and desires can help you make better financial decisions. Decisions such as looking for insurance coverage, or choosing investments, can be scary. You are afraid of making a mistake when it involves the possibility of losing cash. However, there’s isn’t one correct way to handle your money, that is what makes it personal.
But practicing mindfulness, with techniques like focusing on your breath can clear your mind of the constant chatter and help you to become more conscious of your true desires and feelings. With the usually noisy mind now quiet and cleared of distractions, you can weigh your risks with clarity and arrive at superior decisions.
Take the time to attend to your finances
Our lives are often hectic. However, just the same way you schedule some time to exercise and other important activities, you should also create time on a regular basis to attend to your financial affairs. Spending as little as 20 minutes every week can help you have a solid grip on the state of your finances.
In this time, you could review your transactions, settle outstanding bills, and check how you’re faring with your set goals. It’s at this time you review your budget and see where you overspend.
You could also discuss with your partner if you have one you share your finances with. You should create a relaxing atmosphere for discussing family finances – a picnic, dinner date, or a walk.
Planning finances as a team are best carried out when everyone is at ease
This is the time to discuss ideas to save more and earn more. Also, plans for the future that have financial impacts should be deliberated in details. You could also talk with a mentor or a close friend who should be able to get you all fired up to reach your financial goals quicker.
3. Improve Your Finances
Mindfulness is about observing your thoughts with complete neutrality. You can notice unpleasant thoughts, but you shouldn’t be attached to them. When you dwell on fearful or negative thoughts for some time, especially about money, you increase your stress and rob yourself of the joy of living.
Shit happens. But when your mind is filled with worry, say about something you can’t control such as loss of a job, or a potential expense that has not happened yet, you shouldn’t try to stop worrying. Instead, turn your thoughts to things under your control.
Take immediate action in the present moment on things you can implement to improve your finances. You might design a spending plan, develop a better strategy to save for retirement; work out how you can earn more; increase your knowledge or even work on yet another source of income.
What can you do right NOW to better your situation?
If you must worry about money, use the allotted time discussed earlier to do so. Afterward, let it go. Watch your thoughts to see that they don’t slip back to those annoying issues. Anxiety doesn’t solve any problem. What you need is a positive mindset and taking the right action.
4. Maintain Focus on Your Financial Goals
You probably have sound financial plans – but like most people, you find it difficult to implement them. But do you have any idea why you don’t follow through on your plans? When you find out why, you‘ll then find it easier to remove the obstacles that are keeping you from financial success.
Maybe you want to make more money or one day live a debt free life. By being mindful, you can become more focused on your financial goals and all the things you need to do to get there. One way you can do that is by considering the opportunity cost of a particular financial activity. What do you lose by not putting into place your retirement savings plan immediately? The answer is obvious. The longer you put off starting your retirement savings, the less amount you’ll end up with in your retirement savings account.
Therefore, disciplining yourself to take about an hour to handle your budget, work down on your debt, shop for insurance or set-up a retirement savings plan could make the difference between retiring with a nice fat egg nest or being broke, retired and old.
Do you need any other motivation?
The mind is indeed very powerful
All your actions or lack of derives from your thoughts and beliefs. A poor mindset is usually why people are in one financial difficulty or the other – colossal indebtedness, not paying the bills when due, spending retirement savings, and more. But you can transform your mind and eliminate negative thought patterns which hinder your progress.
The surest way to a positive and proactive mindset is the practice of mindfulness
Mindfulness is a powerful tool when you make an effort to practice it consistently. Practicing mindfulness will create new neurological pathways in your brain by training it to focus in the NOW even when your mind begins to wonder. It gets easier to practice with time, and the results will start showing in your finances.
Now, whenever that ad pops up online, instead of pulling out that credit card, mindfulness helps you acknowledge the item and your desires about it and then going back to what you were doing. Your long-term financial goal is now invincible.
Bernz JP is the blogger behind Moneylogue.com. BA in Accountancy, he entered the entrepreneurial world by starting his first online marketing business in 2004. Passionate about personal finance, the stock market, and a digital marketing addict. He’s also an avid golfer and currently a 15 handicapper.