What is at the Heart of Mindful Living?
When I thought about changing my spending habits before this current journey, the idea always fizzled out or fell through. While I may not have been proud of how my money was slipping away on things that didn’t add value to my life, I didn’t feel an internal push or drive that would motivate me to make true changes. I think there are a lot of reasons for this. First, growing up without much and then becoming a parent at a younger age had led me to believe that life would always include debt of some kind. In addition, my superficial understanding of what “wealth” (aka, more than poverty wages) could buy was limited to shallow comforts and conveniences like coffee drinks, an occasional pedicure, or a piece of clothing that wasn’t 100% necessary.
So what changed? I didn’t change my spending habits until I had a deep and meaningful reason that came not from some external expectation or societal pressure, but from a deep desire of how I wanted my life to be. The things that held meaning or joy in my day-to-day existence were mostly free: A good conversation with a friend, snuggling in next to my husband each night, dancing, visiting family, writing, being outdoors, slow time at home, or laughing with my kiddo. However, the things that were important to my long-term happiness did involve money. I did not want lattes or shallow conveniences. I wanted peace of mind. I didn't want to be terrified by things around the house breaking down or wearing out. Even more, I wanted our family to be able to make choices about our future with freedom and to never feel stuck in a situation because of money.
Once I realized that these were the goals that were meaningful to me, I realized that I had been mistakenly spending my money on day-to-day conveniences (where they didn’t add much joy or value to our life) instead of applying those dollars to our future freedom and peace of mind. This change in focus is why cutting back on day-to-day spending no longer feels like a bad diet. I am not depriving myself when I avoid unnecessary purchases, I am investing in what truly matters to me.
We are new to this journey. And although we have a long way to go before we achieve our goals, it feels good (amazing actually) to know we’re on our way. For those who are struggling to find a “why?” bold enough to motivate a meaningful change in spending habits, there is hope! In January, Mindfully Spent will run a series of posts to help you identify your deeply held values and what brings you meaning. There is nothing more essential to making sure dollars and days are mindfully spent then taking aim at what matters and investing our time and money there.
Already know what matters most to you? Great! We'll be discussing other topics throughout the month as well. If you know what matters, but haven't put your money there yet, you can get straight to work by delving deep into your own financial truth and creating your own financial plan on solid data.