It’s easy to burn out when you’re aggressively paying off debt or saving for a goal. No-spend challenges and extreme frugality can help you to jumpstart your savings, but for most people, those types of challenges are not sustainable in the long term. Somewhere in between #treatyoself and extreme frugality lies mindful spending. Is mindful spending the antidote to financial burnout?
What is mindful spending?
Mindful spending means being conscious and intentional with the things you buy. For some people, this means saving up for a big purchase. For others, this means consuming less.
How To Spend Mindfully
In order to shift your mindset, and become more conscious of the things you are buying, it’s important to understand where you are already spending your money. If you pay for most things with a credit card, it would be very easy to look at your statements (or look on your account online) to determine what you are spending your money on.
I recently examined two years of clothing purchases and learned a lot about my spending habits by doing so.
Once you have determined what you are spending your money on, ask yourself if those purchases align with your goals and values. I found that I spend a lot of money on running clothes and outdoor gear, but since those activities are passions of mine, they do in fact align with my values.
Do you mindlessly buy clothes you don’t even need (or necessarily like) every time your favorite store sends you an email about a sale? (That used to be me.) If you pause to ask yourself if that purchase aligns with your goals and values, chances are, you’ll think twice about buying that item.
The Benefits of Mindful Spending
Here are some of the many benefits of becoming more intentional with the purchases you make:
- You will have more money to put towards your goals. The less you shop, the less money you spend. The more money you have, the more you can put towards a financial goal such as paying off your student loans or saving for a down payment on a house.
- You will have more money to spend on your interests. With mindful spending, it’s okay to spend money. If you are intentionally spending less money on clothes and gadgets, you will have more to spend on your interests and experiences.
- You will have less clutter. It’s no secret that minimalism and mindful spending live in the same sphere. The less stuff you buy, the less space it takes up in your home. As you become more intentional with your purchases, you may also start examining some of the things that you have already bought. If those items are not useful or are not things that you love, you may choose to get rid of them. When I started buying fewer clothes, I was able to zero in on my personal style and started getting rid of clothes that did not fit the criteria.
- You will create less waste. There are obvious environmental benefits to buying less stuff. Besides all of the raw materials and energy that go into producing each item, there is often a lot of packaging, as well. Breaking the cycle of mindless consumption can help to lessen your environmental impact.
There are a number of bloggers who have written about the benefits of mindful spending. Here are some noteworthy blogs to check out:
Cait Flanders – Cait paid off $28,000 of debt and writes about her experiences becoming a minimalist, completing a two-year shopping ban, and her experiments with slow living. She wrote a memoir about her first year of the shopping ban and created a Mindful Budgeting planner.
- The Unconscious Urge to Shop (Guest Post by Luise Jørgensen)
- Two Years Without Shopping: What I Bought, Donated, and Learned to Be True
Minafi – Adam explores the intersection of minimalism, mindfulness, and financial independence.
Keep Thrifty – Chris writes about breaking out of the consumerist mindset and creating more time for family and experiences. Chris, his wife Jaime, and their three children have road-tripped around the country, and are now currently enjoying a mini-retirement.
- What a Pizza Cutter Taught Me About Frugality and Minimalism
- Beware the Frivolous Purchase Threshold
Life Zemplified – After reading the Happy Philosopher’s post about a buy nothing experiment, Amy recently wrote about starting a Mindful Spending Experiment. Amy is going to strive to be more conscious of every purchase not only from a “less stuff” point of view but a “less waste” perspective, as well.
Mindful spending is not about deprivation. It’s about becoming more aware of your spending habits and using that awareness to make more intentional choices.
If you mindlessly shop, you have less money to spend on the things you need or really love.
This year I hope to continue being mindful of the purchases I’m making. If I need to replace clothing or find an item I really love and have a use for, I will buy it. I will unsubscribe from emails that send notices of sales, to try to reduce the temptation to buy things I don’t need (or really even like).
I will continue to spend money on my hobbies and experiences, and not feel guilty about it.
Do you practice mindful spending?
Illusion of Scarcity Worksheet (PDF)
Download this free worksheet and start paying yourself first.
- Budget for financial obligations and recurring expenses
- Prioritize your financial goals
- Make all your transfers on payday