Most people create a budget by looking for places where they can reduce bills and spending. Which is incredibly sensible and also very boring.
There’s just no competition between knowing that you saved $25 at the end of the week by making coffee at home, and the feeling you get from hitting ‘checkout’ on a pair of totally impractical shoes in the sage colour of the season that will make an all-white outfit pop. No competition.
But you know what gives an even bigger thrill? Looking around your home and seeing a curation of items that reflect who you truly are and what’s really important to you. That sense of alignment and personal integrity doesn’t happen by accident to anyone. It comes by design.
This is where a Mindful Money Manifesto comes into play.
While budgeting tends to bring up feelings of going without, missing out, and general unfulfilled wanting, a Mindful Money Manifesto is about spending with direction, intention and purpose. It shifts the focus from not spending to spending where it matters most to you. It gives you power.
It’s one of the first exercises finance expert and Fierce Girl Finance blog founder Belinda White suggests anyone do when they become interested in money.
“A Mindful Money Manifesto helps you set a course for your spending and saving, in line with your values and interests,” Belinda says. “It’s particularly helpful for people who struggle with budgeting in a spreadsheet (so, most people!).
“The key is to sit down and take time to plot out what matters to you in terms of your lifestyle and beliefs. Then write it down and set the intention to mindfully allocate your money in those directions, while minimising spending in the other areas.
“Then, take stock of your spending in the last 1-3 months. Sit down with bank statements and/or receipts and see where your money is going each day. People are often surprised at the ‘leakage’ that comes from mindless spending – a takeaway meal here, a round of drinks there, a cheap new outfit when you’re at the shops. It all adds up! It is also helpful to categorise things into buckets: At its simplest you can name them ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, or you can break it down further.
“Now look at these spending patterns and think about whether they are aligning with the way you want to live. There is no right or wrong answer – it’s what matters to you. For example, paying extra for pasture-raised eggs or organic vegetables might seem extravagant to some, but to you, it’s worth it for health and ethical reasons. Perhaps you will see you’re spending a lot on things that are convenient, like meal deliveries, but the food comes in a lot of containers that go to landfill.
“Once you take a good, hard look at the way you are allocating your capital, you’re then in a position to write your Mindful Spending Manifesto. It can be as simple as making two columns: What I am happy to spend money on, and what I intend to spend less on.
“For example, health and fitness are important to me, so I am ok with having memberships to both a gym and a yoga studio. It’s not everyone’s jam, which is fine – I have thought it through and made it a priority. Another area is supporting charities on a regular basis. I have decided it’s important and so I feel comfortable seeing that money go out of my bank account.
“Where I spend less money, for example, is on takeaway food and coffee. I have my own coffee machine and buy the beans from a local roaster. I have a few things in the freezer for nights where cooking seems unappealing. I’m not saying I never buy takeaway, I just do it sparingly and make it a treat, not a habit.
“These are my resolutions – they wouldn’t suit everyone. The important thing is that it makes sense to me, aligns with my values and keeps my spending in check.”
For those just starting out on their sustainability journey, a Mindful Money Manifesto can help you navigate what is an expansive and often subjective topic. Developing your own guard rails personalises sustainability and you’ll know what to ask yourself when buying things like clothes, accessories and beauty products, which can be a minefield for even the savviest of eco-conscious consumers.
Some examples from my own Mindful Money Manifesto
- I seek to purchase second-hand furniture before I will buy an item brand new.
- I say no to fast fashion; Items need to have a forever place in my wardrobe, which I carefully curate on an ongoing basis.
- I avoid clothes made from nylon, polyester, and acrylic (which are energy and water intensive to make, and are responsible for much of the microplastic killing our marine life).
- I only buy leather products from brands who have sought a certification regarding the treatment of the animals.
- I choose grass-fed meats.
- I purchase refill liquid cleaning and beauty products where a refill option is available (to avoid waste).
Have fun – and we’d love to see examples from your own Mindful Money Manifesto in the comments.