For a very long time, money has been viewed as something cold and clinical – something that exists outside of your wellbeing sphere. But that couldn’t be further from the truth and, thankfully, there seems to be a growing awareness of the relationship between your finances and your general wellbeing, and how what’s going on in our lives and brains can affect our spending and saving behaviour.
It can be really difficult to stick to a budget and meet your financial goals if you’re not managing your money with intention and attention, so it’s important to fully engage with your finances if you want to succeed.
Here are a few ways that you can incorporate mindfulness practices into your relationship with money, making the practical stuff easier and more intuitive:
Try to identify patterns of behaviour
The first step toward being mindful about money is to identify what tends to happen when you’re not paying attention. Do you have a shedload of subscriptions that you don’t use? Do you grab a takeaway coffee or dinner out of habit, rather than because you really want one? Do you find yourself constantly saving money and then withdrawing it a short while later? Look through your banking app or past statements to see if you can identify any of these things, and think about the triggers for them. Is it habit? Does it always happen after a bad day at work? When you’re bored or lonely?
Make a list of these habits and triggers, preferably in a small notebook or in your Notes app, so that you can carry it with you. Beside each trigger, make a list of other soothing techniques you could use, rather than mindless spending. It could be holding a yoga pose for a minute, painting your nails or chatting to a friend - whatever keeps you from flashing the plastic.
Create a budgeting ritual
Creating a budget is arguably the easiest part of the budgeting process – sticking to it and not abandoning it at the first hurdle is the real skill. Once you’ve set out your budget, try to create a ritual around when you’ll check and maintain it. You could do your budgeting on a Sunday evening along with a bit of pampering, to make sure you’re ready for the week ahead. Alternatively, you could check in with your budget alongside your Monday morning to-do list, you could buddy up with a friend or housemate to meet for coffee once a month and hold each other accountable.
Make budgeting more enticing by pairing your budget checkup with another activity that you really enjoy – like doing a face mask or listening to a podcast.
Keep a money journal
Journalling is a tried and tested mindfulness practice, and lots of people find that the thoughts tend to flow out onto the page without them really thinking about it, meaning that they can use their writing to work out how they really feel about something that’s been bothering them. And it works with money, too! Whether you’re trying to work through some money issues from your past, trying to combat emotional spending or trying to decide what to save and invest for next, journalling it out is the magic key to really understanding yourself. Keeping a running log of what you’re spending and how it’s making you feel – the good and the bad – will help you to nip unwelcome financial habits in the bud.
Practice delayed gratification
Especially when it comes to material things and consumerism, no matter how much we have, it never feels like enough. With easy, accessible credit like 'buy now, pay later' available for most purchases, many of us have forgotten how to wait for something. It feels really good to save for something that you really want, to anticipate it and enjoy it, but we also often need that time to decide whether or not we really want the thing in question. Keep a running ‘want’ list, and make sure that you leave at least a couple of days between seeing something for the first time and buying it. If you no longer want it after 48 hours, you’ve saved yourself some serious buyer’s remorse. And if you do still want it, and can afford it – it’s a guilt-free purchase!
Give your savings a purpose
It’s really hard to save successfully if you don’t know what you’re saving for. Splitting your savings out into different pots for different goals will help you to save in a more mindful way, and could stop you from making spontaneous withdrawals for things that you don’t really need. Try setting yourself three financial goals and creating a savings account for each, and see how you get on.
This originally appeared on Glamour UK.