5 Daily Mindfulness Exercises That Will Help Your Finances
What is it about money that can seem so daunting and complicated and stress you out? There's something to be said for dealing with money in bite-sized pieces daily. What you do today shapes not only tomorrow but the future. When it comes to money, your habits help determine your financial health.
Here are five habits that can strengthen your relationship with money and set you up for financial success.
Open your mind.
Mindset matters, and stinking thinking is self-sabotage. Every day, notice how you talk to yourself about money. Are you putting yourself down? Going straight to disaster scenarios?
"If so, revise your self-talk. If you tell yourself you're hopeless with money, revise it to say you can feel better about your money habits if you (fill in the blank). This will help you think about healthy money practices and boost your confidence with finances," says Kelley Holland, a financial coach for women.
Affirm positive thoughts. You may not feel comfortable declaring, "I manifest financial abundance everywhere I go," because it seems unrealistic. Instead, find a sweet spot like, "I'm working on improving my finances a little bit every day," says financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin.
Instead of focusing on what you lack, think about abundance and that it's possible to accumulate money. This can energize and motivate you to look for and seize opportunities to earn and grow money.
Track your money.
Check your bank and credit card balances at the start of your day. Do it when you drink your coffee or tea. Why? "First, you can see if there are any fraudulent transactions and spot things that you forgot about like subscription fees that you should no longer be getting charged for. But the best reason is that it tunes you into your finances, shows you where you are, and will likely help you make better financial decisions throughout the day," says financial coach Sherry Andrews.
Live within your means.
Winging it doesn't work. Create a budget and stick to it. Save every receipt for one month to learn what you spend money on. Use that information to make a budget.
"Many people simply spend their money until it's gone, with little knowledge of where it goes. Understanding where your money goes is key to gaining control over it because you can identify areas where you can cut back or redirect to fund other areas of importance," says financial adviser Lorrie Delk Walker.
Start by creating a daily budget diary and checking in every day to monitor your spending.
When making purchases every day, ask yourself whether you're satisfying a need or a want. The answer might make you put your wallet away. And one way to simplify these regular purchases is to automate bill payments: Don't overthink recurring payments—especially those that have a set amount like cable or rent. When they are no longer an active decision, you're able to spend that mental energy on other choices.
Of course, you'll want to give yourself a cash allowance for things like gas, entertainment, clothing purchases, groceries, hair care, well-being necessities, and so on.
"These are areas that can be easy to overspend. Sticking to what you have the cash for helps avoid that," she says. Have a contest with yourself each pay period to see how much of that cash you can hang onto. This builds discipline. Consider throwing unspent cash into a change jar or a separate savings account.
At the end of the year, use that money to pay debt, contribute to your emergency fund, or spend on something for yourself. "Commit to not making large purchases on the fly. This can save you tons of money because you remove emotion from the purchasing equation," she says.
Set financial goals.
Changing bad habits and staying motivated to save for the short and long term is easier when you're driven by purpose. Start with micro-financial goals, as these can build the framework for larger ones to follow. Even things as simple as "I want to spend less money on eating out and cooking more at home" can be great things to start with.
Then move to bigger goals. Write them down in a notebook, on the notes app in your phone, email yourself. It can be "I want to retire," to "purchase a new laptop," to "pay off debt." This helps create accountability. Maybe not daily, but commit to it weekly or monthly to measure your progress.
You can't do everything at once, and that's OK—so that's why it's so important to prioritize your goals.
Invest in your own self-knowledge and power.
Knowledge is power. And it certainly can quell fear of finances. Educate yourself about money, be it through utilizing online resources, regularly reading financial articles and books, or via financial education tools. Every day or week, vow to learn something new about money.
Financial education is a journey, and not a destination—so be ready to expand into new areas of financial growth as you are able!
Sheryl Nance-Nash is a freelance writer specializing in travel, personal finance and business. She enjoys sharing smart money strategies and loves writing about the intersection of travel, history, wellness, art and culture. Her work has appeared on CNTraveler.com, Fodors, Afar, The Daily Beast, Newsweek.com, TravelAwaits, Global Traveler Magazine, among others. Her business writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Newsday, among others. Follow her on Twitter @NanceNash or Instagram @snntravels.