7 Tips to Improve Your Financial Health
Create better health through improving your finances.
Quick: do you know how much money is in your wallet? When was the last time you balanced your checkbook? Do you go to the ATM machine frequently and have little idea where all your cash goes?
Mindfulness is the practice of awareness. As a yoga teacher, I try to bring awareness to students by offering suggestions for body position and breath. As a yoga student, I try to bring awareness to my practice by breathing deeply, resting my gaze in each pose on one spot and listening to my body. So, what do these tips have to do with spending money?
Most people think about money in the context of having a budget. But having a budget doesn’t do you any good if you don’t stick to it. Also, having a budget doesn’t take into consideration how you feel about money. Just as people have different attitudes around eating, relationships and exercise, feelings about money and finances run deep.
A big part of your overall health is the condition of your finances. Ask anyone that has suffered financially during these tough economic times and they’ll speak about the effect their struggles with money has had on their health. Worry and stress about making ends meet takes its toll on our nervous system, our blood pressure and our minds; it affects our ability to sleep and creates muscular tightness in our whole body. Developing a sense of awareness around money can improve your overall health. Here are some tips:
Know where your money goes. Keep a log for one week and write down every time you spend cash. At the end of the week, note what you’ve bought. This will be a revealing exercise that will shed light on where your cash is going.
Decide on a weekly amount for cash spending and track if you’re over or under it each week.Spending without any sense of your cash outlay as it relates to some kind of budget is like throwing money out the window. Even if you’re in a great financial position, spending without any idea of a weekly budget lacks any sense of awareness around money.
Have faith that if you give money away, it will come back. When you’re living to a tight budget (or even if you’re not) you can develop a fear of spending. If you’ve built a lot of discipline around spending, you can become fearful of spending money, donating money, buying gifts for people or going out to dinner. Have faith that if you have healthy discipline around money, you have earned the right to spend as well. Know that in your heart you deserve it and have faith that money given away comes back in one form or another (opportunity, good will, networking or direct cash).
Buy local. There is a much greater emphasis these days on supporting local businesses as a way to stimulate the economy. In addition to the “feeling good” vibes you’ll get when you shop locally for gifts, groceries, coffee and services, you’ll also be spending money to support your neighbors. Driving to make purchases costs you money in time, gas and parking and also tempts you to tack on an extra stop where you’ll spend more. Whatever you can do via foot is not only good for your neighborhood, it’s good for your wallet.
Know how much it costs to run your life: Know what your monthly expenses are for your rent/mortgage, bills and weekly spending. It may vary from month to month by a few dollars but have a sense of what it costs to run your life. This helps you build an appreciation not only for what you make each week but for what you spend, and it shows a sense of awareness around money.
Listen to your gut around making purchases. Don’t be a victim of buyer’s remorse. This doesn’t just apply to large purchases, like homes and cars. It can apply to that dinner you agreed to at a restaurant you can’t afford or the shoes you bought for that date to boost your self-confidence (take a yoga class or go for a run instead) or the “quick stop” you made at the fancy organic grocery store where “a few things” turned into a $100 bill. Just as you should listen to your body around exercise, relationships and big decisions, you should listen to your body around spending money.
Save, even when you feel like you can’t afford it. Saving money is a way to acknowledge yourself for hard work and is a way to develop a healthy attitude toward money. When you make money and constantly give it away for bills, you develop resentment and frustration. Saying, “I can’t afford to save,” makes you sound powerless. Even if you make a little bit of money each week, take a few dollars and deposit them in a savings account. This will help you feel in control of money and less resentful toward it.
Money is a hot topic for many of us but building awareness around money can lead to great freedom and improved health. The awareness you build has nothing to do with your income level and everything to do with your commitment to making financial health a part of your overall life plan.