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Step 5 of 12 to Financial Wellness: Practice Mindful Spending

Every month this year, we’re bringing you another step to guide you on the road to financial wellness. So far this year, we’ve shown you how to track your spendingcreate a budget, work toward ridding yourself of debt and tips to talk about money with a significant other.

Now, it’s time to talk about something you may associate more with yoga than with money — mindfulness.

For too many people, financial responsibility ends with having good intentions. Life gets in the way of the best-laid plans. A large part of the discrepancy between what people want to do and what they actually do is caused by their failure to spend mindfully.

When every indulgence and impulse buy is just a swipe away or a click away, it can be super-challenging to rein in that spending instinct – but it is possible. Here’s how to learn the art of mindful spending.

Find alternative ways to de-stress.
Too often, people claim they need “retail therapy” and use it as an excuse to spend. Instead, it’s best to find another way to lift a heavy mood. Find someone to talk to, take a long, hot bath, go for a jog while listening to your favorite pick-me-up playlist or take up a forgotten hobby again.

Consider disabling the one-click feature for online shopping.
If you’re big into online shopping and often end up buying more than you’d planned, you may want to disable the one-click feature on sites like Amazon. You can also choose not to have your device “remember” your payment information so you have to input it whenever you shop. The more steps required to complete a purchase, the greater the chances of that purchase being a mindful choice and not an impulse decision you’ll soon regret.

Leave your cards and cash at home.
When you don’t plan on spending any money, don’t take any money with you. For safety reasons, you may choose to carry one card with you, but it’s a good idea to keep it as out-of-reach as possible. If you make all your payments with your phone, keep that tucked away, too. Similarly, if you’re hitting the shops to pick up a specific item, bring just the amount you’ll need for the purchase and nothing more.

Put large purchases on hold.
One of the best ways to avoid buyer’s remorse is to put all large purchases on hold. Set your own dollar amount for what you consider to be a large purchase and resolve to wait a while before completing any purchase in that amount or more. For example, you can decide to wait two days or more for every purchase of $50 or more. Delaying a large purchase will give you time to think it over and consider whether you really want to spend this money now. Of course, if you’ve been saving up for a large purchase for a while, you’ve already thought about the purchase and decided it’s worthwhile.

Avoid temptation.
It’s hard to keep telling yourself no when temptation is constantly flashing across your screen. Opt out of social media accounts that get you to spend more than you should, and unsubscribe from email lists. Avoid browsing on brand sites that often trigger overspending and only visit when you need to make a specific purchase. You can do this in real life as well, being careful to avoid shops that provoke mindless spending. Similarly, when shopping for groceries, keep away from aisles and checkout counters that cause you to overspend and purchase more than you have on your list.

Of course, CommonWealth One is always here for you! If you’d like to meet with one of our financial experts about your budget or saving, just make an appointment!

Plus, every week, CommonWealth One hosts free webinars with valuable information about a variety of topics. Go to cofcu.org/events for more information.

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