Mindful Monday: 5-Question Guide to Smart Spending
This month’s Mindful Monday falls on National Splurge Day (June 18, 2010), opening up the conversation around money and mindful spending.
National Splurge Day is a feel-good holiday that encourages us to indulge ourselves in a little luxury. And why not? You work hard to support your Military Family and enjoy all the activities you may find in your neighborhood, your kids’ schools… so there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back with something special every now and then.
Being Mindful with Your Money
This is especially true of anything that contributes positively to your happiness exchange rate, the relationship between the money you spend and your lasting happiness. Purchases that increase your happiness exchange rate — such as a nice dinner out with a friend or family member you haven’t seen in ages, a new book by your favorite author, or even a brand new car to replace an old, unreliable model racking up hundreds of dollars in repairs — contribute to genuine and lasting happiness .
Purchases that decrease your happiness exchange rate, on the other hand, may provide momentary happiness, but the high they give is short-lived. These things might include the latte you pick up on your daily commute, an article of clothing you buy to make up for a bad day, or a brand-new car to one-up the other parents in the carpool.
These less meaningful purchases slip into your shopping cart every now and then, but the key is to catch them before they overtake your credit card bills. Applying the concepts of mindfulness to your spending habits can help you identify unnecessary splurges before you make it to the checkout counter.
5 Questions to Ask Before You Spend
Next time you’re about to bust out your wallet, pause, take a few deep breaths, then ask yourself these 5 questions about your purchase:
- Are you spending money out of habit? Some habitual expenses are necessary, like paying for the bus to get to work, while others can be avoided, like buying coffee on the way to work.
- Will this purchase positively affect areas of your life such as your health, relationships, finances, home, and leisure time? The more areas it beneficially affects, the higher the happiness exchange rate.
- What is your reason or rationale for making this purchase? Some purchases are necessary or functional while others fulfill a desire to keep up with trends or treat yourself.
- What do you hope to get from making this purchase? Is this an item that will add value to your life or will it artificially make up for something that is lacking?
- Are there cheaper alternatives to this purchase? Name-brand items are often more expensive but serve the same purpose as generic items.
These 5 questions are an easy way to catch unnecessary purchases before they reach the register. Stay mindful of your spending to stick to your budget and only buy items that will increase your long-term happiness.
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