Finances = stress. That’s the equation that rattled my brain for at least all my adult life (probably earlier than that though to be honest). For as long as I can remember, “finances” always meant worrying (even if there was nothing to worry about). Growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of “building credit”, “saving money”, “preparing for a rainy day”… the list goes on. Finances have been a stressful topic for me, for as long as I can remember…
I always felt like a cross-breed between a lost puppy and a flailing jelly fish when it came to actually managing it all
What’s Actually Worry-some About Finances
When I got introduced to “Credit Education Week” (November 13-16), an initiative spearheaded by Capital One and Credit Canada, I was immediately intrigued. 1) because I feel like I could definitely learn more about managing my credit (what I’ve come to understand as the currency that actually results in you being able to achieve the goals you want in life, like buying a house) , and 2) because they committed this year’s focus of the week to the theme of #MoneyMindfulness
We’re all worrying about our finances so much, but not tackling the problem proactively… or rather, mindfully.
According to a study and survey conducted through #MoneyMindfulness, I learned a couple of startling (but oh so true) statistics:
– 30% of Canadians consider financial stress as a larger worry than their actual overall health
– Canadians said spend 7 hours per week on average worrying about finances (that’s 365 hours per year)
– The amount of time Canadians worry about their finances is equivalent to how much time we spend eating
And as scary (and admittedly true, at least for me) as these stats are, I got to attend a #MoneyMindfulness retreat with Capital One recently and learned that there is so much that we can do in our daily lives to not only worry less about our finances, but also how to manage it AND our lives in general more mindfully, thoughtfully, and efficiently. Naturally, I had to share these new learnings with all of you (because who’s with me in this scary world of finances?)
Tips On Managing Your
Finances Everything with Mindfulness
Finances, like anything in life, takes up a slot in our brain and the way we approach it (like we approach anything in life) is the key to the success of doing it like a superstar:
1EDUCATE YOURSELF & FIND HELP
Sometimes the simple fact is that what we don’t know scares us the most. I’ve found myself reading an article, freaking myself out at big words I didn’t understand, and coming to the irrational fear that I would lose my life’s savings if I didn’t figure it out. And when this happens, what helps is trying to learn more, dissecting one ingestible fact at a time, and knowing when things are a little too much. That’s what experts are for. Find a finance professional who will help you do just that (e.g. accountants, financial advisor, etc.)
2MAKE THE RIGHT BUDGET
“Right” is the wrong word, but “right” really means what’s “right” to YOU. Budgets are the first stop in your finances and creating one that’s rooted in things like income, essentials, and living expenses from realistic point of view is the start of creating a stress-free financial environment in your life. When we begin to spend outside of our means or make unrealistic budgets, we unnecessarily put more stress on ourselves than we need to.
Use tools like spreadsheets (I like using one that also have an app version on my phone) or a budget tracker to track how you’re really spending your money against what you plan each month.
3THE MINIMUM DOESN'T MEAN THE TOTAL
This mixed me up on my first credit card too. When it says the minimum balance due, it does NOT mean just pay the minimum balance. This is often a way that we find ourselves in more debt than we can handle and a credit rating that makes dream come crashing down (aka the recipe for high stress)
4BOUNCE IDEAS AND TIPS WITH FRIENDS
Sometimes finances can feel boring (especially creative and social brain like my own haha). Sometimes I like getting together with friends (or at retreats like this one) where I can learn from others about how they’re managing their finances in a light, non-formal way (which I find makes it more fun).
I know this is in every self-help book and podcast out there, but meditation is really more about mindfulness and be purposeful with our thoughts. When we have a million things running through our minds at a mile a minute, it’s hard to really focus on anything at all. That goes for everything, including the matrix, otherwise known as finances.
6ISOLATE FOCUSSES THROUGH YOUR SENSES
We did this incredible exercise at the retreat where we were handed a strawberry and/or piece of chocolate. We were asked to clear our minds and focus on that one thing and only that one thing (the strawberry, for me). First we focussed on the look of it, then the feel of it (I never knew strawberries were so bumpy and that its seeds were nestled in what looks like craters), then the smell, then the taste. We did each thing with pause and extreme focus and slowly, this type of mentality creates an efficiency in our brain that allows us to compartmentalize and focus on things without getting overwhelmed.
7FIND WAYS TO DECOMPRESS
We all have ways to unwind (baths, naps, a good ol’ Netflix binge), but I’ve found what’s most effective is even just focussing on breathing. When we clear our minds and just focus on our breathing and movements, we’re able to isolate our thoughts more effectively. I had the incredible opportunity of joining in on a Joga Class at the retreat and loved the moments where we were isolating our breaths between our chests and stomachs.
If you’re feeling stressed, a quick tip to relieve that is to stack your fists and rest your head on it (causing a release of pressure in our brains).
I learned so much at this retreat that I’m committed to putting it into action asap. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to be mindful and train our brains to think in a way that doesn’t stress us out even more.
Overall, I think that the strongest sentiment I got from this entire experience was to be present. We should move through life being present in our thoughts, each task, and yes… each bit of our finances. Because we never get this moment back, and that’s something to celebrate every second of the day.
*** This post was made in generous partnership with Capital One. All thoughts and opinions are exclusively my own.