Stressed about your financial situation? At least you’re normal.
Regardless of financial standing, money crosses most of our minds several times a day. When our financial standing is less than stellar or our spending habits aren’t becoming, we carry the emotional burden with us through each moment and it takes a toll.
Money has consistently ranked as a top source of stress, according to a decade-long annual survey “Stress in America” by the American Psychological Association (AMA). Only in 2017 was money supplanted as the top source of stress, when the turmoil from the 2016 presidential election prompted “the future of our country” to slightly edge out money as the most common source of stress (63 vs 62 percent).
Why Be Mindful About Money?
The stress caused by financial woes can also lead to myriad other mental and physical health effects. Financial stress has been linked to depression, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, cardiovascular disease, digestion problems, weight fluctuation, diabetes, substance abuse and a host of other issues. This is largely due to the varying ways people cope with financial stress. But, there’s a way out, and it involves something you already have: a mind.
Per a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), mindfulness meditation programs had a moderate effect on improving anxiety, depression and pain. Not bad for something that merely costs focused discipline. Being mindful with your money also lets you take the reins over your finances. Instead of letting stressful financial thoughts creep into your head without warning, money mindfulness can strengthen your ability to focus on money only when it’s to your benefit.
Face Things Head On
When money comes up in a conversation with friends or family, do you instantly want to change the subject? Do you avoid opening any financial mail? Do you know your credit score? When’s the last time you logged into your checking or credit card account?
People barely making ends meet or saddled with debt might experience great anxiety when keeping tabs on their finances, but ignoring your finances only makes things worse.
Set a day each week to go over your finances. To become more mindful with your money, you need to know how much is coming in and out each month. What are you spending your money on? How much did your last credit card payment take off your principal balance? Without knowing the specific details of your progress and actions, you can’t forecast and plan against issues before they occur.
For example, if you weren’t paying enough on your credit card bill and the interest was rapidly accumulating, you’d want to be proactive in getting assistance. Reading Freedom Debt Relief reviews makes it clear that debtors have better chances of their debt being forgiven if creditors are aware of an issue before months of missed payments and no communication occur.
Becoming more mindful with money takes a lot of discipline, and at the forefront of discipline is consistency. You could have a great month in which you thought about every one of your purchases, checked your financial accounts and envisioned your long-term financial goals. But if you’re back to the same old habits next month, you’ve only made the process harder on yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with getting help in any facet of life, especially with something as central to living as money. Whether you’re in debt or not, take advantage of support groups like Debtors Anonymous (DA). These groups not only console people struggling with big debt, but can help if you’re having spending issues or just generally feeling down about your money practices.
Cherish Your Small Strides
Like with consistency, it’ll be hard to shift to money mindfulness if you don’t celebrate your small wins along the way. Maybe you suppressed the urge to buy a pair of shoes you didn’t need, or shoved your FOMO into a box instead of spending money on a concert. Don’t brush these decisions off as if you had no choice or that they don’t mean anything. It’s the small choices that can change your financial outlook. Pat yourself on the back when you make a good decision.
Save and Invest with Purpose
Mindfulness is all about staying present and living purposefully. So, what does living with purpose mean to you? Or more specifically, what do you want your money to do for you? CEO of Freedom Financial Network Andrew Housser gives apt advice, urging people to ask themselves where they want to be in 1, 3 and 5 years, then take actions to make that a reality.
You don’t need to have a specific visual of what that looks like, but having a general idea can help guide your saving and investing goals. Do you want to eventually open your own small business? Do you want to be free to travel when you retire? Whatever you want your future to hold, you can get there if you craft savings goals related to them.
Start with building an emergency fund, and when you’ve done that, keep paying yourself other ways. Make the process easy on yourself by using one of the many free financial planning software tools available.
Being mindful about money is free, but it’s certainly not easy. But with the right amount of motivation, proactivity, self-encouragement and outside help, you can get there. Before you know it, you’ll be more zen with your money than you realize, and others will want to know your secret.