July 11, 2022
The other day at the gym, while working out on the treadmill, a man beside me started a conversation by complaining about rising gas prices. A construction worker who drove a large truck, the man said it cost him $175 to fill up his tank.
Inflation has claimed another victim. And it’s likely claiming you and your family, as well. Prices for everything from gasoline to sofas have risen sharply. According to the World Economic Forum, inflation in the United States is nearing 40-year highs.
What is Inflation? How Mindfulness Can Help
Inflation is when prices of things rise while our ability to purchase them declines. And for many families, inflation is making it more difficult to buy what they need or want, save for the future, or avoid slipping into debt.
The reasons for our currently inflationary climate range from an increase in the money supply to pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions to the war in Ukraine.
Financial experts can offer plenty advice on how to penny-pinch or manage investments. But you also can turn to another source for help – mindfulness.
Because mindfulness grants us greater awareness, it gives us insight into the habitual ways we carry out our lives – including how we spend.
Of course, becoming more aware of your spending won’t shift the world’s economy. And you’ll still likely get sticker shock when buying gas.
But you can reclaim some of your purchasing power by becoming more aware of what you buy and why you buy it. You also can use mindfulness to align your spending with what truly makes you happy. All of which gives you more bang for the buck.
Three Ways Mindfulness Can Help Manage Inflation Stress
Here are three ways mindfulness can help you manage your family finances amid rising costs.
- STOP: Next time you want to purchase something – no matter how small – practice STOP (Stop, Take a Breath, Observe and Proceed). Stop and refrain from spending. Take a breath and observe how the urge to spend feels in your body. Do you feel buzzing in your chest? A rush of excitement? Do you notice a fleeting thought about how buying a new iPhone will improve your life? Once the immediate urge to spend subsides, see if you can wait – 24 hours or more – before revisiting the purchase. After doing so, you may realize you no longer want what initially caught your fancy.
- Notice Spending Cues: Recent research on obesity shows noticing how our environment cues us to eat may help with weight loss. You can use a similar approach with spending. Paying attention to the times, locations, and states of mind that make you more apt to loosen your wallets helps you become more intentional with your spending. Going to the grocery when you’re hungry, for example, might make you buy more than if you shopped on a full stomach. And frictionless free shipping on Amazon Prime might drain your paycheck faster than if you paid full freight.
- Consider Your Return on Happiness: Human beings are notoriously bad at gauging what makes us happy. Research shows that close relationships rather than material goods foster greater well-being, for example. And, yet we still yearn for new cars, exotic vacations, or the latest gadgets. Those things are wonderful if we can afford them. And we all need a level of material security – shelter, food, water, etc. – to thrive. But you might be surprised that what makes you happiest doesn’t cost a thing. Next time you want to splurge, ask yourself what your return on happiness will be from spending. If it’s not particularly high, consider investing more time in your relationships.
Written by Kelly Barron, eM Life teacher