SAFE Financial Education Specialist Gina Richardson talks with people about how to improve their relationship with money. One topic she enjoys sharing is bringing mindfulness to money. Spoiler alert: no meditation or yoga needed.
What does it mean to be mindful with your money?
Mindfulness is being conscious of what’s going on around you. When talking about money, it’s about knowing where your money is going. If at a store, do I know how much I’m spending? Did I bring a list or am I in the store just aimlessly purchasing?
Mindfulness is bringing planning and consciousness of what you’re doing and spending with a purpose.
How do you do that?
Spend with purpose by creating a budget, a GPS system telling every single dollar you make where it’s going, not letting those dollars come into your account and telling you they can be spent wherever. It’s like on weekends when your girlfriends hit you up to come to a party and you just say OK, I’m going to go! Before you say yes, ask yourself: Have I budgeted for this in my going-out fund? Do I have the money to actually do whatever that activity is?
You bring mindfulness to money by making sure you have a plan around the money you’re receiving and how it’s going to go out.
So you don’t have to meditate or strike a yoga pose?
It’s not like a big ommm, I’m going to the store! Let me give you an example. I went through a life change and had to cut back. Groceries seemed to be the one thing I couldn’t get under control. Now I set a goal: $600 is the absolute max I’ll spend on groceries a month. I don’t use a credit card or a debit card. I put $300 cash in an envelope the two times a month I get paid. I go to the store, and once that $300 runs out, that’s it.
I create a list, and I have a unique way of doing it. I go to Walmart.com and choose just the items I know I need. When I go to the store, I stick to that list.
The point is to come up with whatever you’re trying to manage, budget for that and stick to it.
Why is it important to do this?
Because there are too many necessities that we have: clothing, shelter, medical expenses, food, transportation. Those are hard to afford already. Once you finance the necessities, then you can move on to the wants. If you don’t know where you stand in your financial life, how are you able to do anything outside of your needs?
What are benefits of being mindful?
Less stress. Lack of money will make anyone crazy. A lot of lack of money comes from mindless spending. You don’t want to be that person playing eeney meeney miney moe at the end of the month trying to make your remaining balance work because you didn’t plan where the beginning balance went.
What are some easy ways to get started?
Create a realistic budget. Don’t lie to yourself. Look at what you have currently, not what you wish you had. Write down how much you have coming in. Write down your expenses. Create a budget so you can see what your financial situation looks like. I share this in my classes. Print your last month’s bank statement. Take three highlighters: green, yellow, and red. Highlight your income in green, your necessities in yellow, and anything unnecessary in red. That way you can’t lie to yourself about what you spent and you can know where you need to make corrections.
Any other insight?
Our finances are the one key thing we can control. Once you are in control of them, you’ll have less stress and being able to enjoy life more.
Start building your budget with SAFE's Budgeting Tool.