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Money Mindfulness

Can you name the last five financial decisions you made? This is a tricky question that I often ask new clients. Our decisions around money take place in three major areas: spending, saving and budgeting. Do you remember that last five purchases you made? Probably not! Our spending decisions have a backseat in our overall thought process. We pay attention after we have spent our money. The action of buying has changed over the last decades from previously using cash or checks to a quick swipe of a debit card. It’s become a way of life-hardly anyone carries cash in their wallet and very few of my clients actually use checks for more than a few expenses a month.

As a society, we are relying on technology to keep track of our spending decisions. Technology has its benefits- we have instant access to information, and if you had to answer the questions I’ve posed, I would guess you may access that information by logging in to your bank account. Most of our buying decisions are made without much consideration, especially if we view them as minor in nature. We have become disconnected from the “mindfulness” of our money.  So, we log in and freak out!

Have you ever been surprised by the cumulative total of everyday purchases, let’s say after a weekend of running errands and entertaining? Small purchases partnered with little or no thought can add up to big consequences! You’ve spent more than you remember, which leads to pangs of guilt, which morphs in to worry-all directly deposited into financial overwhelm you repeatedly vow to overcome.

Here are three tips that can help you begin to go from mindless to mindful with spending:

  1. Know your budget for every category of spending and analyze it weekly!
  2. At the end of each day, take the receipts from your debit card purchases and add them up: are there any purchases you regret? Any that you could have forgone?
  3. Keep using technology! There are a wide variety of mobile apps that can help you stay on track:

CoinKeeper and Mint are two of my favorites!