Reviewing Your Income and Expenses

Can Bring Peace of Mind

By Jennie Hastings
[Mindful Money]

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we move from the idea of money mindfulness to actually practicing it. In order to do this, we need to understand what practice is. The best definition of practice that I have come across is that it is consciously systemized action taken toward a goal. If the goal is to become more mindful of money, we must learn to create conscious systems that help us progress.
When taking care of anything, consistency is key. Is it better for your body to exercise for 30 minutes each day or to be a weekend warrior with one day of strenuous exercise in an otherwise stagnant week? Can you take care of your kids or your dog for one intense period of time, and then neglect them until you’re ready to do another intense period? No. The garden has to be watered regularly, otherwise it will die.
If we want to be “good” with money, we must realize this is a skill and be willing to maintain the practices that lead to financial mastery. If we consciously systemize our financial lives, it takes away the stress of the big picture. As we take care of each small step, we are tending the garden of our financial well-being.

Where to Begin

How do we create conscious systems for our money? One way is to regularly review our income and expenses. A simple way to achieve this is to link your bank accounts with software that will automatically pull your transactions into a ledger. Once a week, open your ledger and make sure all the transactions are assigned a category. With some software, like Mint, you can see how much you have designated for each spending category each month and by looking at it regularly you will make better decisions about how to spend. If you use something like Wave Accounting, it will generate reports for you that will be very helpful at tax time.
If this feels out of reach, another step is simply to open your bank account online on a daily basis and review the transactions. By doing this, you are not creating any financial reports that an accountant could use, but you are staying on top of where your money is going. And this is one of the most crucial systems to have in place for money mindfulness.
We could think of practices like rituals. A weekly ritual I used to have before the days of direct deposit was to take my paycheck to the ATM. I would deposit it into my checking account, and then immediately transfer 10 percent of the money to savings. It was interesting how saving in this way was fairly easy. I think because my checking account was going up, it made me feel good, even though 10 percent was siphoned off for savings.

Money Date

People in relationships can create the ritual or practice of having a “money date.” This may not sound very enticing to begin, but money can be a huge strain on a relationship. By making a time to speak frankly about finances, a couple can relieve a lot of stress. You can make it pleasant by preparing your favorite food or beverage for the date. You can make it spiritual by beginning with a moment to acknowledge all that you have, what you are grateful for, and noticing the abundance in your lives. When your finances are clear, it relieves stress, and you can concentrate on other things until your next money date.

Gratitude Practice

A regular gratitude practice is another ritual that promotes money mindfulness. If you take time to notice, and really feel, the abundance in your life, it generates an internal feeling that makes it much easier to make good financial decisions. So much of our spending can be on things we think will fill us up and make us happy but really won’t. If we practice filling ourselves up on a regular basis with the real abundance in our lives (like clean water to drink, healthy food to eat, and a safe place to sleep), we are less likely to feel the need to fill ourselves with another pair of shoes or the newest smartphone.

Practice Makes Perfect

Consciously systemizing our financial lives is liberating. I have gone through times in my business when I let months go by without entering anything into QuickBooks. Every day I would remind myself how far behind I was and how much time it would take for me to catch up—this felt heavy and stressful. When I put my awareness on this challenge and realized that I could sidestep the data entry by using software connected to my bank account, it made things much lighter. As I started looking at my business numbers weekly, it brought a lot of peace of mind and freed up some energy I could use for other things, like helping people heal their bodies.
Mindfulness is a practice. It starts with the desire to deepen awareness and then becomes a process of learning how to do it. The more we adopt conscious systems into our financial lives, the easier they will become to practice on a regular basis until we do them without even realizing it. May you find the conscious systems that work for you and the discipline to put them into practice.

Jennie Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, has studied money in the therapeutic process from every angle: as a client, patient, and practitioner. She is the author of The Inspired Massage Therapist (Massage Blossom Books, 2012). Hastings believes having a career in massage and bodywork means having infinite possibilities, and she is always exploring new ways to evolve her practice. You can find more from her at