You may know that meditation and mindfulness can help improve life in some ways—help with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and much more. Experts in personal finance are beginning to push a new application for the mindful thought process: spending habits.
Provided by: Constant Content
While there is no one way to define mindfulness, an accessible definition is to describe it as taking wayward, self-directed attention, and directing it in a conscious, intentional, and useful way.
To learn to spend mindfully, establish rules for how you will spend your money and begin consciously applying them to purchase decisions. It isn’t hard to learn to do this.
Go over your spending habits
The first thing you need to do is to perform an audit of all your spending to gain an understanding of the kind of spending you do now. You need to give your mind training wheels over the first month—spend with cash, rather than with plastic of any kind. Counting out those bills each time you buy something helps you become aware of the unpleasantness of having money leave your pocket. The feeling helps you learn to be conscious of every penny you spend, and makes you think about it. In general, as you train yourself to be more mindful of your spending, it’s important you do everything you can to stay on course.
Experts recommend certain techniques often used in cognitive-behavioral therapy in addiction rehab. It isn’t a long oblique connection, either—spending does give your brain a shot of serotonin and often becomes addictive. It’s important to avoid shopping triggers. Remove all shopping apps from your phone, and don’t go anywhere near your favorite stores, even if it means taking a roundabout route to wherever you go. Don’t tempt yourself. Whenever possible, wait at least a week before making an elective purchase.
Help yourself remember
It’s easy to start your mindfulness campaign with a bang, but forget all about it in a couple of days. Be sure you don’t do this; put up a prominent and attractive reminder on your refrigerator. It also helps to put up notes to remind you what what you’re saving for in the first place—a kid’s college fund, your retirement, a vacation, and so on.
Each month you manage to spend mindfully and save money, you can put it toward one of these goals, and write down the amount added in these notes. As you see those figures swell, you won’t be able to help but swell with pride as well. It’s important to remember a change of habit is always glacial; the brain is designed to go slowly with change.
It may take months for your mindful spending habit to become natural and painless. It will come, however. Even if it hurts today, even if it’s boring, all you need to do is stay with it.
Invest in regular mindfulness training
It doesn’t matter if you manage only five minutes of meditation a day.
The deep, focused breathing done in meditation positively influences parts of the brain that control habit, attention, and emotion. Meditation builds self-control in these areas.
Spend on things that count
Look through the things you’ve purchased during the past few months, and write down the ones you regretted later. Each time you plan to make a similar purchase in the future, think about how you felt with such a purchase the last time you made it. You also can try this exercise with every new purchase.
Keep a diary of feelings you have when you make each purchase, and how those feelings change a day, a week, or a month afterward.
The next time you want to buy clothes because you believe they’ll make you feel good, it’ll be hard for you to forget how these feelings never actually happened.