In this article, we examine how we can more be more mindful when it comes to our money.
Ask these questions before you spend
I recently came across a story (link opens in new tab) about the Japanese art of saving money which listed some questions which I love. The article says that before you pull out your wallet to buy that item, ask yourself these questions:
Can I live without this item?https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/08/how-this-japanese-method-of-saving-money-changed-my-lifeand-made-me-richer.html
Based on my financial situation, can I afford it?
Will I actually use it?
Do I have the space for it?
How did I come across it in the first place? (Did I see it in a magazine? Did I come across it after wandering into a gift shop out of boredom?)
What is my emotional state in general today? (Calm? Stressed? Celebratory? Feeling bad about myself?)
How do I feel about buying it? (Happy? Excited? Indifferent? And how long will this feeling last?)
The article mentions several other strategies for saving money (or, not spending money) which are also interesting, but these questions really spoke to me as they really focus on mindful spending.
We tend to get bogged down by stuff. There’s always another social media post of a cute outfit or gorgeous chef’s knife. There are ads everywhere, and even our friends tell us about all the latest stuff they happily purchased. But truly, when does stuff ever actually make us happy? That’s what I love so much about these questions. They ask us to think twice before buying. They remind me of the Marie Kondo question, does it bring you joy.
Some of the people I talk with are concerned that they spend too much and save too little. They know this is a problem, but they don’t know how to start to change this habit. That’s why I like to ask about life goals as part of the financial planning process – what do you imagine when you think of financial independence? If the way you use your money isn’t lining up with what you value, why not? I also sometimes ask people to look at their spending in a budget like I describe here (link opens in new tab).
The questions above could help in the moment of deciding to make a purchase. Being more mindful about what we purchase, pausing before pulling out the wallet or hitting the “buy now” button, is often a great first step in getting onto the path towards financial independence – or to whatever your financial goals might be. And they probably don’t include that cute new outfit.