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.

“This is the year to de-clutter your life!”

It’s a law in more than forty countries: when Oprah says something, you listen. And according to the Oprah.com homepage, “This is the year to de-clutter your life!” It’s a bold statement, but it’s an exciting one. Could this be the year that Americans finally get organized and clean up the clutter? I have my doubts, but one thing’s for sure – if anyone can make it happen, it’s Oprah.

To lead the spring cleaning revolution, organizational specialist Peter Walsh will be hosting a series of shows that will give viewers tips on how to reorganize and tidy up their homes. A native of Australia, Peter moved to America more than ten years ago to help companies trying to improve employee satisfaction and effectiveness. He has since founded PeterWalshDesign to help people successfully organize their personal space.

Peter is known for his step-by-step, no-nonsense approach to simplifying your life. He first emphasizes the importance of having an end goal in mind. Whether you are organizing your life or your entire family’s life, you have to focus and have a clear, concrete vision in mind. Once you can see the finish line, Peter helps you create a path to get there. Here are just a few of his suggestions that I have found particularly helpful:

More is not necessarily better. The good news is, with a trash bag, you can start in any room of the house. Have I used it in the six months? If the answer is no, it’s got to go.

Start with the “lazy clutter”. This is the stuff that doesn’t get organized because you’ve had too many other things going on. You don’t have time to keep it all together. Most of these things – old magazines, junk mail and other papers – are just plain old trash. Get rid of it.

When you get to things you need to save, go through them systematically and methodically. Balance what you need with the space you have. And if it’s someone else’s stuff, get it out of your house.

You have to fight time. We never have enough time in the day to get to all the things we need to accomplish. Setting aside time to organize is the hardest part of the entire process – but it has to be done!

I just wish I had a way to tell Oprah and Peter about shoeboxed.com. Time doesn’t HAVE to be an issue! We’ve started the website that you’ve always needed, but never knew existed – a site that automatically makes your life easier. If you don’t have enough time to track your purchases and get organized, enter your email address in the box below. For once, organization is about to get easy, and we’ll let you know as soon as it does.