Today’s discussion on money informed by the genius Melissa Gindling! Melissa’s financial journey is centered around not the amount of her earnings but her relationship to each dollar she earns and her consciousness about where each dollar lands. Melissa had a wakeup call about her $2,000 monthly mortgage payment when she realized she’d dreaming about how to spend that money – hint: on other things. Melissa had the opportunity to purchase her grandmother’s home from her dad in cash at a fantastic price, and she is now living her Best Life and in alignment with her values!
Integrating Money and Yogic Principles
There is so much morality tied up in how we make and spend money. Regardless of who you are and in what financial circumstances, money does not describe your value. Your earnings do not define or restrict you, and you can find empowerment in your financial life through deepening your knowledge of your own earning and spending. You can claim control of your financial life by making changes to closer align with your values – and in doing so live your more authentic truth! Having more money or less can make us feel restricted – shifting that mindset to “I have control of my money and I can strategize where it’s going and why” is empowering and freeing. Sounds like yoga to us!
Melissa says this concept became really clear to her during the period she was considering purchasing her grandmother’s home – Melissa says she was spending too much time inside or shopping, and she knew she and her family were not spending time the way they really wanted to. Instead of vacationing, now they camp. She now makes sure to save 20-30% of each paycheck. She says her priorities also shifted to spending more on the day-to-day items like food, which Melissa says easily takes up the largest piece of their budget. Melissa and her family are comfortable with this because they value being healthy and staying connected to the earth. Of course, Melissa says, they make purchases that don’t align with their values – and that’s okay, too! Melissa says, the changes to her family’s financial life have had a huge ripple effect and really empowered her family to live in closer alignment to their values more generally as well.
A Life of Abundance
Shifting your financial life into alignment with your spirituality and values means not only slowly learning to pay attention to where your money is going, but also acknowledging the privilege you have in the ability to spend that money. It can be helpful to come to a mindset of abundance and mindfulness by applying the language of “I get to” rather than “I have to” as we might do in other aspects of our lives when we are practicing mindfulness. I get to pay taxes, I get to tip the waitstaff…
When we shift this language and become more mindful of where we are unconsciously spending money, we take the power back. So often, we hear the excuse “I can’t afford that,” which, while true for many, may not be true for you – this is where you have to take a hard look at your own values and either acknowledge that what you “can’t afford” actually just isn’t a priority for you, or acknowledge that your spending does not align with your values. There’s often a way to afford the things that are really important to you – by zoning in on unconscious spending and redirecting your funds after you shift those spending habits.
Identifying Unconscious or Wasteful Spending
For Melissa, another learning moment in her journey was when her family downsized into her grandmother’s house. Melissa watched so many items have to go out the door – items she had carefully chosen and paid for, and now was losing. Her attachment to the items was not the issue: Melissa saw her money walking out the door with each item she gave away, and thought how wasteful to have spent money on these items. Melissa says one of the more difficult realizations of wasteful spending was the time and money she spent on her hair – is a root touch up truly aligned with my values? Melissa decided no. Melissa says it just didn’t feel right to have earned that money and turn around and spend not a small amount of money on something that just wasn’t important to her. Now Melissa rocks her beautiful grays, and though she may struggle internally with that, she feels right about no longer spending that time and money on her hair. It’s not about not spending money on your hair, though, it’s about making sure with yourself that spending money on that haircut and color is important to you – which, it may be, and that’s fine, too! It’s the consideration and mindfulness that is key here.
While “being mindful of your spending” sounds great and all…. What the heck do you do to get started? We’ve got you! Grab a piece of paper or open excel, and let’s get started!
- First, find out what you have.
- What is your savings? We mean everything – random savings accounts, your 401K, college savings for your kids.
- What is your debt? Again, everything – mortgage, $40 you owe your mom for your sister’s birthday gift… yeah, everything. Record the name of the debt, how much you pay on it, and the total debt. Record interest rates, and strategize about what to pay off first!
- What is your income? Not just your salary, but what’s coming home. How much is going into your 401k? Health insurance? If something goes wrong, you can more easily identify it through changes in your take home pay. Know your income statement!
- Now that you know the baseline, what are you spending? You might find you have $2,500 per month left over to spend – maybe you’re spending $3,700 and need to cut down or maybe you’re spending $1,500 and need some direction for the extra $1,000. Know what you are spending and where.
In summary, your savings, debt, income, and spending are the levers that influence your budget and financial standing. Each of these can be adjusted to reach a balance that fits your life better. Of course, it requires more than a blog post or even a 30 minute chat with Guru Gindling to figure this out, but these are the very first steps to pursuing money mindfulness.
How to Integrate these Ideas in the Holiday Season
- Save monthly for the holiday season.
- Have a budget for holiday gifts.
- Have some wiggle room in the budget, but go into shopping with a plan.
- Find the deals!
- Set expectations with your kids.
- Build the season around things other than gifts – traditions, quality time with family, special foods.
- Consider giving to others who have less during the holiday season.