At the beginning of the month (which feels like years ago now), Mrs. Miller of Millers on Fire, and I collaborated and created a mindful money week challenge on Instagram that we called #mindfulmoneyweek.
Although I’m somewhat new to Instagram, I was up for the challenge when Mrs. Miller suggested it. What I wasn’t prepared for was the profound effect it would have on me and how flexing my mindfulness muscle would come to apply to more than just my money mindset.
With everything going on in the world right now, our mindfulness experiment feels even more relevant. Not only should we be mindful of our money, we could all benefit from mindfulness in all of our actions. Right now we need mindfulness not panic.
After a lot of brainstorming, we came up with 7 topics, one for each day of the week. We wanted to come up with ideas that would make people think about their money and money habits.
Monday – What’s in Your Wallet?
Prompt – What does your wallet look like? What are you carrying around in it? Are you a cash or card carrier?
Personally I rely on my credit cards most of the time in order to maximize reward points. I always pay off my credit card in full every month and rarely use my debit card. That being said, I still like to carry some cash in my wallet. You just never know when you might need it.
I enjoyed seeing everyone’s wallets and what they had inside. Some people had post-it notes on their credit cards showing which ones had the best reward bonuses for certain spending categories.
Tuesday – Today’s Money
Prompt – What do you spend money on in an average day? Keep track and share all of your spending today.
This one was fairly easy for me as I don’t usually spend a lot of money on a Tuesday. That being said, this particular Tuesday was the first one of the month which meant 15% off at my local grocery store.
This store doesn’t have the best prices all the time but there are select items we buy there. This discount day is the perfect time to stock up on these items.
This day was great for bringing mindfulness to your money and money habits. By choosing to share every transaction you really had to be conscious every time you spent money.
Wednesday – No Spend
Prompt – What is one thing you refuse to spend money on?
For me this one was easy, I refuse to spend money on themed birthday parties for children under the age of 2 who won’t remember the party anyway. I know that there are some people who enjoy these types of parties, but I am not one of them.
Some of the other things that people said they would never spend money on were: designer clothes and purses, timeshares, and lottery tickets. One person said that she couldn’t say never to designer clothes because maybe if one day she was a billionaire designer clothes wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
I had never thought about it like that before. That being said, I’m fairly certain that if one day I’m a billionaire (which is highly unlikely – and I’m totally okay with that), I still won’t spend money on theme birthday parties for children under two.
Thursday – Wallet Weakness
What do you spend money on you wish you wouldn’t?
This theme was not one that came instantly easy to me. Although I have often identified as a saver, in reality I think that I am more of a non-spender than a saver.
That being said when I gave it some thought and looked at my expense tracking I realized that my wallet weakness was gifts for others.
Whenever I am out and see something that I think someone else will buy I get the urge to buy it for them. This is ironic because of how uncomfortable I get when other people buy me gifts.
This week helped me be more mindful of this and to reflect on the fact that not every gift has to cost money. In fact, some of the best gifts I have ever received didn’t cost the giver a thing.
Friday – Totally Worth It
What is one item you have purchased lately that was totally worth it or makes your life easier?
This day’s theme was easy. The best purchase we have made as a family lately was our Dyson handheld vacuum. I love this thing. With a toddler at home who often makes a mess, this vacuum has helped keep our house as clean as ever.
From the community there was a range of totally worth it purchases. Check out the #mindfulmoneyweek Instagram to see them all.
Saturday – Self-Love
Buy something that brings you joy today
For this day I choose to buy something that not only would bring me joy but also my mom. I paid for us to take a gluten-free perogies and fresh pasta cooking class. Not only did we learn a bunch of new recipes in this class, we also got to spend the whole day together.
What is something that you have bought recently that brings you joy?
Sunday – Random Acts of Kindness
What can you do today for someone else?
Today’s random act of kindness didn’t cost me a thing. The night before it snowed so I went out and shovelled not only my walks but also the walks of my neighbhours. Who doesn’t like waking up to fresh snow and realizing you don’t have to shovel it?
My favourite post for this day’s theme was from ModernFImily. They spread loose change on the trails near their home and then watched as people picked it up. They were watching from inside their home so don’t worry it wasn’t creepy.
Mindful Money Week Takeaways
The first thing I learned with this Instagram challenge was how much work Instagram can be. It was so exhausting I had to take the following week off away from Instagram to try and recover.
I don’t know how Instagram influencers do it.
The second takeaway for me was that I’m not as mindful as I thought I was. I assumed that all of the prompts were fairly easy to respond to. But reading everyone else’s posts made me realize how much consideration other people had put into the topics.
Some of the responses were so thoughtful, whereas my responses felt more like knee jerk surface reactions to the prompts.
My final takeaway from #mindfulmoneyweek was the impact that the concept of community has on me. Although, in person I have never met everyone who participated in mindful money week, I still felt like it was a mini-community.
Everyone’s thoughtful responses triggered my mindfulness muscles and caused me to pause and think and be more mindful.
The Mindful Muscle
Mindful Money Week activated my mindfulness muscle and caused it to work more consistently. Like any muscle, it grows with use and wains with a lack of practice. The more you practice being mindful, the easier it becomes; the more it becomes second nature.
The week after mindful money week the world changed drastically with the rapid spread of a new global virus. Every day now feels like a year. It is so easy to want to slip into panic, fear, and anxiety. But practicing mindfulness helps to overcome this.
It is difficult to panic while being mindful.
Thankfully my mindfulness muscles are ready to go to work once again. Practicing mindfulness with my money habits has prepared me to be mindful in the face of the current pandemic. A benefit of being mindful in these trying times is that it is helping me to overcome the urge to be fearful and anxious.
Practicing Mindfulness Now
Here are three ways in which I think we can practice mindfulness right now.
First, we can be mindful of the supplies that we are choosing to stock up on. From everything I have read, our supply chain is prepared and solid.
This means that there is no need to stock up on months and months of supplies. Doing so results in fewer supplies for others that may need them.
In our household we have stocked up on a couple of weeks of food and supplies. We are being mindful of the meals that we are preparing and how we use things around the house. Now is not a time to hoard or to be wasteful.
Secondly, we can be mindful of at-risk populations. As someone who is healthy and young I am not considered to be part of the at-risk category for this virus. That being said I can still be a healthy carrier of this virus.
We all have loved ones who are part of the at-risk category.
By being flippant about my actions and not mindful of others I could be putting my loved ones and complete strangers at risk.
Right now we need to all be more mindful of our actions, and to stay home and practice social distancing whenever we can.
And lastly, we can be more mindful of how we choose to spend our money right now. The widespread closure of small businesses may cause them to close their doors permanently.
One of the best things we can do for these businesses right now is to support them. I’m not suggesting putting ourselves or others at risk to do so.
Being mindful in this sense may mean supporting them online if they have an online shop, or buying gift certificates from small businesses that you can use later when some of the restrictions are lifted.
There are many benefits to being mindful, whether it’s with our money and money habits or with what is going on in the world right now. But being mindful can also relate to checking in on how we are personally feeling.
These are stressful times, times in which we need to not only be mindful of our actions but also take care of each other and ourselves. Now is the time to seek help if you need it.
Having warmed up my mindfulness muscles with mindful money week I am feeling more prepared to handle the current global situation. I am pausing, thinking and trying to be more mindful before I act.
With everything going on right now I am grateful for my health and that pursuing financial independence has provided me options in this time of crisis.
Right now, more than ever is the time to be mindful, not panic.