You’ve probably been told that life is about living in the moment. Perhaps one of your friends that’s been on a yoga retreat has looked at you disapprovingly over a soy decaf latte and told you that you need to be more present. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. 

Nevertheless, trying to live in the moment is actually good advice. But the chances are you don’t take this zen mentality to your money. 

What is financial mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is a bit like giving your brain a rest. With practice and meditation, you can clear your mind and achieve heightened awareness. This awareness brings greater clarity to your thinking and helps you to make better decisions and approach life with stability. 

Financial mindfulness is a philosophy that looks at how you think and feel about money in all aspects of life. This doesn’t just mean feeling bad about spending. It can actually involve embracing it. 

It’s time to change your relationship with money 

People think that becoming enormously wealthy solves all life’s problems. Well, guess what, thousands of films, novels, interviews and autobiographies about the world’s most successful people all say the same thing: It doesn’t work. 

The first step towards being financially mindful is to accept your current circumstances. You probably aren’t a millionaire. You might actually be quite poor. The good news: you’re not alone. 

What’s necessary is to objectively observe the state of your finances. This step is often the scariest. The greatest source of anxiety in finance often comes from uncertainty. Having a solid understanding of what’s going on removes a great deal of this straight away. That’s why many successful people suggest you do just that. 

While having financial heroes is encouraged, constantly comparing yourself to other people should be avoided. Your situation is unique. You can’t turn your life around or make real progress by copying other people. At some point you’re going to have to make a plan to suit your own unique lifestyle. 

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Financial mindfulness finds a balance between head and heart

In many ways, you are what you spend. It's time to look at where your money goes to see if that aligns with your values. 

Are you climate conscious? Does your money movement support companies that share this concern? Conversely, investing could be your thing, but are you letting small, impulsive transactions accumulate to eat up your potential gains? A central aspect of financial mindfulness is to notice your spending patterns and to embrace those that help with your progress and goals

A financially mindful approach encourages you to look at why those transactions are happening, what they mean to you and how you feel before and after you make them. If you are feeling regret or guilt afterwards, there’s a chance they either don’t reflect your goals or that you are being unrealistic about your spending.

Taking a minute to observe your habits in the moment will soon help to create a balance between your emotional drive to splash out and the cold logic of your brain that tells you to keep your money locked away. Eventually, your self-knowledge will improve in tandem with your relationship to money, meaning you won’t agonize over each and every transaction. 

How is this different from budgeting?

Your budget is just a simple way of looking at what you’ve got coming in and out of your accounts. The main goal of Financial mindfulness is to grow the happiness and satisfaction you get from what you do spend on, rather than just trimming all unnecessary costs. 

While some budgeting philosophies expect you to live a spartan life of hardship for years just so you can relax in your twilight years, mindful spending means that you can incorporate the best aspects of financial security into a happier and healthier way of life. 

While financial mindfulness can bring a lot of benefits, it’s important to note that it’s not going to happen overnight. Even with the best intentions, there is going to be some trial and error on your journey. Like any good relationship, the one between you and your money grows stronger with time.