Mindfulness is all the rage in corporate America these days. It is estimated that almost 30% of Fortune 500 companies have a mindfulness program at work. The practice of mindfulness also has implications for your financial life.
Before I delve into these implications, I thought it might make sense to define the term. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and where we’re going, and not overly reactive to what’s going on around us. This state is often enhanced through meditation and breath work. Benefits include a greater ability to focus, increased productivity, less stress and anxiety.
But what does this have to do with your money? Lots, it turns out.
- Be intentional with your money. Being mindful with your money can mean being more intentional with how you spend it. When analyzing past spending, my clients are often surprised to find out how much they spend on things that aren’t important to them. In order to be more intentional with your money, first you need to take stock of your values and what’s truly important to you. Then, use a program like Mint or Quicken to analyze how you’ve been spending your money. Chances are you’ll find you are spending money on things that don’t align with your values. You might be able to cut spending on these less important areas to free up cash-flow for other more meaningful goals.
- Acceptance of your financial situation. One of the key tenets of mindfulness is acceptance. By focusing on enjoying the current moment and not dwelling so much on the past or the future, it is possible to really appreciate all the positive things you already have and set aside the constant worry that it isn’t enough or that you have to keep up with the Jones’s. Research shows that buying more stuff doesn’t make people happier, but instead spending time with loved ones or on experiences does. Letting go of the desire to always acquire more stuff can lead to greater happiness and peace.
- Awareness of your money habits. Another key tenet is the concept of awareness, which is non-judgmental noticing of your thoughts. Money can be a loaded subject and a lot of our financial habits have been ingrained in us since childhood. By noticing how you react in different situations and how you feel about your money decisions, you increase your awareness of them and what might be causing them, which is the first step to making better financial decisions.
Taking a more mindful approach to your finances might result in greater happiness, less stress and a greater ability to achieve more meaningful goals.