mindful march : finances
When designing our Mindful March, we saved the best for last: money. Naturally, this is everyone's favorite topic. While we're no self-proclaimed experts on the matter, we have found some strategies that helped us be more present and less impulsive. Please note that there are a lot of right ways to do things - these are simply the right ways that have helped us on our financial journeys. We invite you to share your own money tricks that have helped you!
YNAB / MINT
Trying to get out of debt? Want to grow your investments or savings? In our opinion, the first step in achieving any goal is to learn more about where you are now. Regarding finances, that means tracking your spending for a month and seeing where your money is going. YNAB, or You Need A Budget, is a great tool with a boatload of features that makes it so easy to look at trends and set goals based on your financial data. Mint is an excellent free alternative if you don't want to or are unable to spend the $12.99/month. Something that worked well for us was inputting the basic categories and monthly bills and simply tracking the first month. From there, it's easy to see where we spend without mindfulness and set goals to reduce unnecessary spending.
THE UNSEXY SIDE OF THINGS : MAKE A DANG BUDGET
That's right. We dropped the "b" word: BUDGET. Once you have a more specific idea of where your money is actually going, make a budget. Figure out what you bring in on a monthly basis and set goals for how you plan to optimize your spending. Feel free to get as detailed as you like with this - your budget can be as individual as you are. If you're the kind of person who needs to get as granular as deciding how much you want to spend on coffee, then do it! On the flip side, if you do better with broad categories, then do it. The most successful budget is the one that actually works for you.
Now that you've figured out where your money is going and set goals on how you want to optimize it moving forward, set up auto pay and auto transfers everywhere you possibly can. Make your money work for you! Life is too dang busy to have to keep track of whether or not you paid a certain bill, especially if it one that has direct influence on your credit. This is one version of out-of-sight-out-of-mind that we can get on board with.
LEARN YOUR SPENDING BEHAVIORS
Now for the fun part: start working through the emotional side of your money behaviors. Take a close look at when you notice you're more prone to spend recklessly. Are you stressed? Are you burnt out? Are you needing to fill up one of your metaphorical tanks? Do you utilize money like a tool or like a drug? This may sound extreme, but many of us find ourselves going on shopping sprees when we're feeling stressed or overwhelmed for a quick dopamine hit. It's an unfortunate side effect of living in a capitalist society. When you feel the urge to lapse into these behaviors that go against the goals you set in your monthly budget, we encourage you to get quiet and sit with the discomfort you're feeling. Where is it coming from? What needs do you have that aren't being addressed? It's all about finding the root cause rather than treating a symptom.
TRY TO SAVE 10% OF EVERYTHING YOU RECEIVE
So we've set a budget and started trimming areas where we want to be more conscientious of our spending and now we find that we have more cushion in our bank accounts. Congratulations! Isn't that an amazing feeling? Now it's time to start learning how to save. Think of this like a muscle - it might feel odd at first, but over time you'll get better and better at it and before you know it, you start forgetting about payday. In the beginning just start small - maybe 10% of what you bring in if you have the room for it. Still too much? Start with $20 per paycheck. That's an amount you can transfer to your savings account instead of ordering Postmates for lunch. Small, simple habits are the steps that truly make the biggest difference in the long run. After all, it's just putting one foot in front of the other, right?
THE AMOUNT YOU CAN EARN IS (THEORETICALLY) ENDLESS
If the previous step is still simply not doable for you even after addressing your budget and setting goals, think about ways you can increase your income. There's a limit to how much you can eliminate, but there's (theoretically) no limit to how much you can earn. A few simple ideas that don't require a ton of extra time on your part: sell things on FB Marketplace and elsewhere online, start teaching how to play an instrument or another niche skill you may have, make things and sell them on Etsy, start freelancing, and so much more. This isn't the most glamorous tip because it does demand hard work, creativity, and determination, but it works.
ELIMINATE THE (SOCIAL) WHITE NOISE
Social comparison is a real thing and it's not exclusive to social media. At some point or another, every single one of us has looked around at some of our close friends wondering, how do they afford all of this? Subconsciously, a lot of times we end up trying to keep up with the Joneses. These are great moments for self awareness and self reflection, allowing us to turn inward and figure out what inside of us feels triggered to act out of alignment. One way to put boundaries in place to protect yourself is, if you're comfortable, talk to your big spender friends and let them know that you're working towards financial goals. Communicate that you want to spend time together in a setting that doesn't mandate spending money. Another great way to set boundaries is to filter your social media consumption. At the end of the day, unless people give us a direct look into their financial wellbeing, we can never truly know how and why others spend as they do. Thus, as they say, stay in your lane. Focus on your goals bb girl.
Now go forth and conquer your financial wellbeing! Work that savings! Pay off those debts! Secure that bag (and all of those other tropes)! Are you already ten steps ahead of us? Share your financial wisdom and let us know what you do that helps you foster your financial success.