Belinda White, Fierce Girl Finance
A question on Reddit recently asked, “What are three habits for maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself?” And I was like, ‘Sooo glad you asked, I’ve been working on these!’.
I’m gonna give you all three because, to be honest, I thought they were pretty good.
The first one is that I meditate daily. This sounds hard but is actually pretty easy, because I am totally chill about whether I’m doing it ‘right’. People often think if you aren’t in nirvana with a blank mind, it’s not worth doing. I have found that it’s more like the sex and pizza analogy – even when it’s not very good, it’s still good.
Anyway, that’s a side note.
The second one is that I give myself a break when I make decisions that turn out to be … less than ideal. We’re all just here, learning how to be humans after all. Where is the line between self-compassion and being complacent about your faults? I don’t know, but I am up in here exploring it!
OK, that was also a side note.
The third habit, and the one that’s been really healthy for me, is approaching eating and exercise with a mindset of ‘what will nourish me?’. It is replacing my old mindset, which was about restriction and punishment, and earning things, and depriving myself, and being good enough, and not being good enough.
And I want to focus on that last habit, because it can be extended to thinking about money.
It’s all about approaching things from a place of self-care, nourishment and abundance. It’s about honouring yourself and your needs, rather than punishing yourself for having needs. (Which, let’s be honest, is what the patriarchy is really good at tricking us into!)
Thinking about money with an abundance mindset makes it feel good and rewarding and positive. When you’re spending, you’re more likely to ask, “How will this improve my life, or add value to it, or give me positive emotions?”.
It’s quite different to the feelings that bubble up if you’re coming from a place of scarcity: not knowing enough, not deserving it, or not feeling in control of it.
A scarcity mindset feels like: “Oh, I shouldn’t do this. I feel guilty. I did this and now I feel bad. I’m doing this because I need to make up for some type of unhappiness somewhere else in my life.”
So, how do you actually make a mindset shift? How do you improve your relationship with money? Look, I’m not gonna sit here and tell you I have all the answers.
But I can give you one strategy that might help you flip the script on your money relationship.
Introducing … the Mindful Spending Manifesto
I came up with this idea because I noticed that the word ‘budget’ made people kind of shiver and crawl into a shell and never talk about money again. Including me.
That’s because budgeting is very much like dieting. It’s about what you can’t have. And I, for one, hate not having stuff I want!
When you tell yourself, you can’t have chocolate, all you think about is chocolate. When you tell yourself you’ve got a budget, you can feel like, ‘oh my goodness. I don’t have enough money. I’m just thinking about the things I’m not allowed to buy!’
A mindful spending manifesto is therefore based on a conversation with yourself about what you can have.
First of all, you go through your spending for the last three months or so to see what’s happening.
/ Where are the cost blowouts?
/ Where do you think you’re doing a good job?
/ What are your pitfalls?
/ What are the things you’ve spent money on but are totally happy with?
So, for example, you might have spent quite a lot on yoga and doggy daycare (who me?). But you’ve thought about that a lot, and both of those things are important to you, and they improve your life (and your dog’s life!). So that’s fine.
Put that in your bucket of ‘I’m happy to spend on this’. You are mindfully allocating capital to it.
But then you might look at something like your Uber Eats or your ‘retail therapy’ purchases and think ‘hey that’s not really, making me feel good about the money that I spent.’ So you’re going to put that in your ‘spend less’ bucket.
You can even rate different things. For me, yoga gets five stars for return on investment. Buying lunch at work? Two stars. Usually disappointing.
Then, when it comes to making spending decisions, you’re more likely to catch yourself and think, ‘oh wait, this is in my two star bucket. Do I really want it?’
It can also help you identify where to set up better habits. So for example, if you know, the Uber Eats is one of your downfalls because you get home and you’re tired and hungry, then think about making some delicious things for your freezer. An abundance mindset means you are happy to defrost some yummy spag bol, and not eat a sad, lukewarm burger.
Overall, a mindful spending manifesto is about creating a sense of ‘I know where my spending is going to make my life better and I know where it’s going to make me feel a bit yuck.’ No budget spreadsheets required!