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Mindfulness and Money

When it comes to certain issues in my life, especially in the past, I just whipped through parts of my life on autopilot.

Potato chips. Salt and vinegar used to be my favorite. The first three were delicious. I should’ve stopped. I didn’t. I started slowly until I reached a feverish pitch of just shoving chips into my mouth. I actually remember I’d eaten so many (I think it was a family pack) that my mouth almost became numb from the vinegar. I really couldn’t even taste or feel the snack as it attacked my mouth. I proceeded with such heedless abandon that the universe finally flung a salted and vinegared spud smack into my eye, yelling, “Stop this madness!”

When a person is like that in one part of their life, it’s probably going to pop up in other aspects. The great part is when we start to pay attention, we’ll pay less and gain more.

Why?

I’m a Grown Up Now. I’m So Not

The first credit card I got was from Eaton’s. If you’re too young to remember, it was a department store. With a restaurant. I gleefully took friends out for lunch so I could charge something. I felt so grown up saying, “I got the bill”. Didn’t feel as grown up when I got the bill. It was short-lived fun that now had 29.9% interest on it. It made me feel good to make others feel good and treat them. I see this with a lot of our customers. We want to help. We want to be a good friend. I think that’s awesome. And there’s so many ways to do that without spending our money. When we can help others with our money, that’s our choice. We just need to make sure our financial health is robust first. I had to grow up first to realize I didn’t have to buy happiness

I Need a Pick Up. The Joneses Sure Look Happy

Sometimes we feel down. Makes sense – life happens. We want to feel better. We need to dig deep and feel why we’re feeling that. The quick endorphin rush we feel from buying those awesome but expensive shoes will be short-lived. We need to walk in our feelings and not ignore them. We’re bombarded with ads hundreds of times a day between what we see and hear, online and in real life. Marketers jobs are to sell! Perceived happiness sells. Marie Kondo’s book and now Netflix series, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has great value. Ask yourself, “does this bring me joy?” If it doesn’t, let go (or, even better, don’t buy it to begin with). I realized I really don’t need a lot to feel content.

Genetic Lineage and Ancestral Stuff

My dad was from a former communist country and my mom is a farm girl. They were more frugal than most of my friends’ parents. I definitely had benefits some didn’t. I also grew up in a home that raised it’s own rabbits (not just for pets whaaa), had multiple veggie gardens that sustained us through the year in frozen and canned form, didn’t leave food on our plates. I could’ve been the best budgeter in the world but, in my younger years, I went the other way. It was almost like my parent’s cautiousness because of their childhoods made me rebel the other way. I wanted abundance but didn’t have the means. That didn’t stop me. Your financial baggage story will be different than mine – we just need to each examine why we behave the way we do. I know things were scarce for my dad as a child in East Germany, I adopted a mind-set of being scared I wouldn’t have enough. Fear drove my spending.

How To Be Mindful

Here are some actions that helped me:

I actually didn’t have a clue what I was spending my money on. All I knew was my pay cheques were always running out. In the age of debit and credit, it’s so easy to tap. Suddenly, my funds would be depleted. And I really didn’t have anything to show for it.

Stop With the Debit and Credit. Take a set amount out in cash and that’s what you spend. Nothing more. I became a lot more mindful when I paid with money. With a card, I just had the perception (positive, naïve) that I had more than I really did. With cash, I would see the little pile going down and realized I really didn’t want what I thought I did. It’s not something you have to do forever but it really will change your habits and mindfulness.

Knowledge. My bank has a little chart that sort of shows what I spend my money on. But I glance at it. When I actually took the time to write down every little thing I was spending aka wasting money on, I literally felt sick. All those little expenditures were taking away from hobbies, interests that I really wanted in my life! It was great to see it in black and white and know I had the power to take control. I had to look at the why I was spending more than I could afford. Again, your story will be different than mine. But it’s very interesting to delve into this truth and come out on the other side.

What Brings Me Joy? As I gave away stuff that didn’t bring me joy, it freed up space. Not only in my closet and cupboards but in my life. I saw the delight on someone else’s face when my possession was something they needed in their life. As I gave more, I needed less. As I relaxed into me, abundance in what I actually wanted seemed to find it’s way. Your values and beliefs are bound to be different than mine but when we know what we stand for, we can see our path ahead.

Acceptance. I had a best friend that had more of everything. They actually claimed bankruptcy but I saw the possessions. I wouldn’t say I’d been jealous but I wore hand me downs (thank goodness from two stylish fashionistas), she’d get her clothes from the States when they’d go on vacations. I had an old Oldsmobile Omega (first world problems, I actually had a car at 16), she had a brand new car. We ate a variety of food, my parents were both wonderful cooks but I fixated on that Thumper was served; they had a lot of steak and garlic bread. I don’t know if it was various illnesses that hit my family hard but I started just always feeling really thankful for all that I was blessed with. In the age of social media, it’s really easy to play the compare game. Forget about it. Look for one thing you’re blessed with a day. Then three. As you nurture this, you’ll find yourself surrounded by blooms. Manure happens but when you also look for the good, you’ll find it.

Change is Change. Little differences add up. Put a little away in a savings account that you choose to make it harder to access. Some banks do it for you – any extra change from a debit transaction goes into an account. You can do it on your own. It’s exciting to see the change. Be the change. I’ve been broke. And abundance mindset is a lot more rewarding in all areas of our life.

Written by Jen Chen

Jen has been with Blue Copper since 2010. She had a prior life in recruiting and sales. Jen was excited about Dave’s vision (not too many people can say that about their ex) of getting people out of the payday loan cycle and being able to help clients who other companies might not give a chance to. She was pleased that she was allowed to use her gut, heart and common sense instead of only looking at the beacon score on a credit bureau. Jen is excited to offer a unique lending experience where the loans delivered lead to a better life for clients.

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