Mindfulness and Budgeting
I tend to think that financial, physical, and mental clutter are interconnected. A writer for Simple Dollar ( a financial blog “for the rest of us”) blogged on Unclutterer (organization for all) about this concept in a great entry that I wanted to share with you. “The Connections Between Mental, Physical, and Financial Clutter” preaches how becoming a mindful consumer can limit your spending to more essential purchases.
The first step to becoming a mindful consumer is to practice being mindful in the present. Erin Doland from Unclutterer has a 30-second challenge. Close your eyes and entertain thoughts relevant to everything that is going on around you. Shut out your to-do list, stop thinking about your boyfriend/girlfriend, and don’t let your mind swirl. Are your ideas focused? Are your muscles tense or sore? Is your breathing rapid or deep?
Being mindful of the present, and only the present, can be very difficult. I didn’t make it longer than five minutes, without losing focus on the present. Practice during your everyday activities. Next time you shop, ask yourself, “why do I need this?” Figure out how many hours of work it would take you to pay for the product. You’ll find that when you rationalize your purchases, it’s easier to stay within your budget.
While the article touched on what can be done in the moment to become a mindful consumer, I think that it’s essential to train your mind to evaluate purchases through reflection. If you’re a “math” person, examine your spending history statistically. You can use Shoeboxed’s graphs (found at the bottom of each of your shoeboxes) to analyze how you’ve been spending and evaluate specific purchases. Does your spending have an upward trend? What could you do to curb it? When you shop, try to visualize where your purchase would fall on the graph. Would this purchase continue your upward spending? Would this purchase deviate extremely from your average spending on products of this type?
If you’re more of an “English” person, grab a journal and a pen. Reflect on some of your purchases. You can look over your receipts, to help you remember what you’ve purchased at what cost. Did the purchase live up to your expectations? Did the product last long enough to warrant it’s initial cost? Do you use the product often? If you find that your purchases haven’t lived up to your expectations relative to their cost, research and see if there are cheaper/better alternatives. Next time you shop, compare purchases with those you’ve reflected on. Will the purchase fulfill your needs and expectations?
Reflect and clear your thoughts to rationalize your decisions. Being aware of how you are spending your money, is the first step to curbing unnecessary expenditures.