We all have busy day-to-day lives. With work, kids, spouses, and short attention spans being the norm these days, it’s good to practice mindfulness. Today’s fast-paced society tempts people with an abundance of choices for food and possessions. Eating and spending money have both become mindless acts, often done quickly. (When it comes to food — did you know it takes your brain up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full?) As simple as it sounds, financial mindfulness and being mindful in general is very challenging today.
What is mindfulness?
Being mindful is the practice of reaching a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues. It’s a form of meditation that can be used to treat many conditions like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, various food related behaviors, and even the urge to needlessly spend money.
In the spirit of both Health and Wealth, here’s some tips that I’ve found useful in my own life to help tune up your eating and spending habits — many of which will share common elements!
Tips for dietary mindfulness
- Try sitting down to eat with little to no distractions.
- Take your time eating; don’t rush your meal.
- Look at meals as fuel for your body — instead as a quick filler.
- Focus on how the food makes you feel.
- Ask yourself why you’re eating. (Are you truly hungry for fuel? Is the food really something you should put in your body?)
Now, let’s apply some of these principles to financial mindfulness:
Tips for financial mindfulness
- Recognize impulse buying. Much like thinking “should I eat that second cheeseburger” or “yes, I’d like to mega size my meal,” think before you buy! With access to anything over the internet, we can purchase whatever we want in a matter of seconds — it’s almost too easy. The key is to check in with yourself before you add to cart and hit “complete purchase.”
- Implement a 30 day “waiting period” to your purchases. When you find an item you want, add it to your list and timestamp it. Once 30 days have elapsed, reevaluate whether you still want it. If you do, you can feel more comfortable buying it. Having a waiting period helps remove the impulse and forces you to be more logical about the purchase and ignore any societal or personal pressures you may be feeling, too.
- Avoid your spending sites completely. A 100% effective way to avoid impulse buying is to remove the temptation completely. Don’t browse online stores as a means of entertainment, for example. Although it’s difficult to avoid ads entirely, try not to focus on them. It’s just as challenging to avoid your favorite foods as it is to avoid spending, with how easy it is today!
- Categorize purchases into “need” or “want.” For example, you need to buy groceries for food. But you want to buy concert tickets or the newest hopped-up version of your smartphone. This alone should help give you more perspective — can I make it without this thing I want, or do I have to have it to live?
- Use cash as often as possible. Technology has changed the way we look at finance, but cash is king. This might sound too simple — but think about it: it’s a lot harder to part with that cash in your wallet. It has a tangible quantity that you can feel as your purse gets lighter. This can discourage needless spending and help attach a recognizable value to your hard-earned dough!
Overall, being mindful of your eating and spending habits are powerful tools for you to regain control in your life and lead you on the path to both personal and financial wellness. It creates awareness of things that you never thought twice about — only to better yourself for a future you!