Money plays an essential role in our lives and it impacts nearly everything we do from the type of job we have, to where we live, the car we drive, the choices we make, our relationships and even our level of self-esteem, health and our wellbeing.
Your relationship with money is individual to you and is likely to be a complex combination of the thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, past experiences and the “programming” that you’ve received throughout your life from society, your parents, schooling, tv and social media.
Money can be a very powerful force in your life which you can either learn to control, or let control you. If you lack confidence, control or awareness with your finances or you’re not actively managing your relationship with it, it’s more likely to become a stressor in your life.
In my experience, one of the simplest ways that you can create a healthier relationship with your money is to introduce the practice of mindfulness to the way you manage your finances.
Money mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to your finances, taking our head out of the sand and focussing on what you can do now to become friends with money and to create a better money future.
Being friends with money is not only the key to creating and keeping more wealth, but it is also the path to financial freedom – or in other words your ability to live the life of your dreams and on your own terms.
Here’s where the principles of mindfulness can help you to create a more conscious and better relationship with money:
1. Acknowledge and accept it. If you can’t admit it, you can’t change it. If you can’t look at your relationship with money in the eye, you won’t know what type of friendship you have.
When you acknowledge your current relationship with money (whether it’s good or bad), it creates a starting point from which you can grow and create better beliefs, thoughts and habits with money.
Begin by asking yourself: Are you and money friends? Do you speak or do you ignore each other? Is money supporting you? Are your habits and beliefs supporting your relationship with money? What would it mean to be friends with money? How would a better relationship with money improve your financial situation, your life, your relationships?
2. Connect with it. The more connected you are with money, the more aware you become and the more control you have with it.
Because much of how you think, feel and what you do with money is driven by your sub-conscious – as if on auto-pilot they are done automatically and without much thought, by introducing mindfulness, you can bring these thoughts, feelings and actions to our awareness and work out whether they are helpful or harmful to our finances.
Becoming friends with money requires you to pay more attention to your money and how you use it. Being conscious to the flow of money into and out
of your life helps you to make more aligned spending and saving decisions.
Try scheduling regular money dates for you to check in with your finances and remain present and aware of your money situation. This means checking your bank account regularly, reviewing bank and credit card, investment and superannuation fund statements and being mindful of your everyday actions and habits with money.
3. Let go of the past. Focus on the present.
While we all have a history with money, we shouldn’t let our past experiences with money rule our present and future relationship with it. If you continue to hang onto the past, then this past will play out and repeat into your future!
Your friendship with money requires you to let go of past money mistakes, and forgive yourself for poor decisions, overspending habits and bad money behaviour. Instead it asks you to focus on the present and the positives – the things you do well with money the things (big or small) that you can implement today to create a better relationship with money for tomorrow.
Remember, what we focus on expand. What we pay attention to grows. If we want to improve your relationship with money then you need to focus on what we can do today for tomorrow.
Do I live in the past or in the present with my money? Have I forgiven myself for past money mistakes or experiences? What are the things I do well with money? What is one habit I’d like to begin with money?
4. Use cash instead of card. Create a connection to your money and become more conscious of your spending patterns and habits.
In our mostly cash-less society it is easy to become disconnected from money. Studies show that it’s much easier to spend on card than it is to part with the cash and while swiping, tapping, paying by plastic all make purchasing easier, they also make spending with little to no thought or connection easier too!
This disconnection is so common in fact, it’s even been termed the “money-disconnect’.
If your spending needs some attention, try using cash instead of card. Not only does this create more awareness on how much and how often you spend money, but it may also help you to spend less!
5. Be mindful of your emotions. Stop and reflect to give yourself an opportunity to take a more intentional approach to spending, rather than acting out on your emotions.
We all make emotional spending, investing and saving decisions every day. We might spend money to make ourselves feel better, or spend out of boredom or as a distraction. We may use money to rewards us or to impress others or appear successful.
When a relationship (whether with another human or with money) is driven by emotion, it’s likely to be a bumpy ride, with many ups and downs! But by introducing the practice of mindfulness to our relationship, we begin to pause and reflect on our emotions and how we are feeling each time we use our money. This helps to creates more awareness around how and why we are spending and provides us with an opportunity to be more intentional with our habits.
Once you become friends with money, it allows you to refocus all the attention and energy that would otherwise be tied up in money stress, anxiety and financial worry to other things that invite more flow, freedom and abundance to your life!
The more you invest in our relationship with money, the more dividends it pays in your health, wealth, happiness!