By Kaitlyn Szabo • November 19, 2018
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), one of the major stressors for people during the holiday season (or, frankly, any time of the year) is finances. To avoid stress, think intentionally about your money and practice money mindfulness.
Defining Money Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. Money mindfulness is the act of intentionally thinking about your financial situation, without judgment, to determine what you do with your money and understand how you feel about your choices. The simple act of thinking about our finances is difficult because it is such an emotional, personal, and often uncomfortable topic to navigate. How do you manage your finances during good times without acting boastful? How do you handle financial uncertainty without feeling embarrassed, isolated, or ashamed?
Whether you’re experiencing strong financial times or a tight financial squeeze, you should regularly check-in with yourself about your finances to develop a plan for where you want to be. Ask yourself:
Be open and honest with yourself. Contrary to what you may want to do, don’t avoid your financial problems. Face your situation head-on to understand what exactly is happening and to develop a realistic plan to remedy the situation. The goal is to understand your negative thoughts, not to eliminate them.
Intentional Everyday Money Habits
- Make a “spending plan.” Reimagine a budget as a spending plan that is your roadmap to reaching your uniquely defined financial success. Set reasonable and realistic parameters.
- Find a personal finance blog or podcast. Spending time regularly consuming content related to personal finance can help you think about money in new ways and realize that many people have the same questions you do.
- Pause before spending. Avoid trying to tackle too many things at once. Instead, make one decision at a time, then wait a while before making another one. Taking time between decisions allows you to assess whether it is a need or a want and to make a less emotionally-charged choice.
Managing and Reducing Financial Stress
- Remember you are not alone. Even though few people talk about money, it is quite common to be experiencing financial trouble. A Federal Reserve survey found 40% of Americans don’t have $400 available to cover an emergency. Life happens, and it happens to everyone, so do not be ashamed if you are facing hardship. It is not a reflection of being lazy or stupid.
- Start your day unplugged. Instead of checking emails or social media right away, take a moment to breathe and think positively about the day ahead of you without any other distractions.
- Ask for help. Many organizations in Minnesota provide free financial coaching programs, including Prepare + Prosper’s Money Mentor program. Local community centers also offer in-person classes or counseling sessions where you can learn about personal finance.
Money Management E-Newsletter: November 2018