A Mindful Approach to Money Management

“You can be rich by having more than you need, or by needing less than you have.” Tony Robbins, MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Money and finances tend to be a topic most of us prefer to avoid talking about, or even thinking about. Not infrequently our feelings about money begin early on in childhood. As a parent, you don’t want money to be rooted in scarcity or shame, but on the other hand, you don’t want it be rooted in indifference or assumption. What also makes money an enigma is that hard work doesn’t necessarily lead to financial freedom – in fact, many people in the world work very hard at more than one job just to cover their family’s basic needs, and a necessary family income varies between households. As indicated in the Harvard Business Review article Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research – “Other than its functional exchange value, pay is a psychological symbol, and the meaning of money is largely subjective.”

Most of us know that money doesn’t buy happiness and we can all think of examples that prove this fact, famous or otherwise. Research has proven that having money above and beyond the amount that covers your basics doesn’t lead to more happiness. The accumulation of ‘things’ certainly doesn’t lead to it either, and we are starting to see more evidence of that with the minimalism movement. Choosing to spend money on experiences and other people, leads to more joy, appreciation and building connections, as opposed to accumulating ‘stuff’.

Mindful spending

A podcast I really enjoy is Her Money with Jean Chatzky where she offers a platform to talk about money, especially to women, in a positive way. She recently had on Caren Osten and they discussed the positive psychology and mindfulness as it pertains to money and how we spend it. In particular, they discussed a ‘mindful pause’ or ‘purchasing pause’ before spending money on something we may not need or later regret. Sometimes we really have to get into that immediate experience of the present moment to realize what our impulses and thoughts are at the time. I know that I have times where sleeping on a purchase decision can provide a whole new perspective on what I thought I wanted.

Needs versus wants

My husband Colin is big on this concept, especially with our kids. After having been struggling medical trainees for a long time, once we started to make money, really ‘having money led to spending money’. It was so tempting to see how colleagues were living and to consider it to be a benchmark. But, as with anything, you have to ‘stay in your own lane’. We reeled it in and as our kids got older, we wanted them to have a healthy concept of money – especially given the uncertainty of their own future careers and earnings. Even within the medical profession, earnings vary greatly between specialties – I can speak to this first hand as a family physician married to a radiologist. The same goes for many other careers, so gauging what is truly ‘a need’ versus ‘a want’ allows for the occasional ‘want’ indulgences while mindfully taking care of the ‘needs’ first.

Gratitude and money

I was so happy to hear Caren Osten talking about her gratitude practice during the Her Money podcast with Jean Chatzky. She said that she has been writing in a gratitude journal everyday – listing 3 things she is grateful on that particular day. I have written about a gratitude practice many times and I can tell you it is a practice because as with any habit, it takes a lot of practice. One thing I have noticed from my own practice is that the things I am grateful for would rarely be ‘things’. They are usually moments, togetherness with others, animals, nature, experiences, etc. Gratitude instantly turns what we have into ‘enough’, and if we are fortunate, that can apply to money as well.

SaraTMD

Resources 

MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom – Tony Robbins

Mindful Spending: The Happy Way to Financial Freedom

A Minimalist’s Thoughts On Money

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