It can be hard to be mindful about money.
It is easy to be anxious about a lack of money, anxious about debt, anxious about “keeping up” a certain lifestyle.
It is easy to be ambivalent about money when we have more than enough, to avoid the discomfort of budgets and long-term planning, and to just play it by ear when times are good.
Often we are either worried about our financial situation or just not thinking about our financial situation. Financial planning can often feel like an unnecessary burden, or an insurmountable task.
However, in both times of plenty and times of scarcity, I believe money can be approached with a sense of purpose for ourselves and our community. Financial planning should be the process of finding ways to align our spending, saving, and giving with our needs, hopes, and ambitions.
Now can be the time to shore up our financial picture, planning for risks, paying down debts, and saving for emergencies. To build a foundation for our own lives as well as foundations from which we can help others. Stable lives that then allow us to take risks with our careers and give deeply when great giving opportunities come along. Stable buffers that prevent our goals from being derailed by surprises and emergencies.
Now might also be the time to prioritize. When we have more than we need, it can be easy for money to be soaked up in expenses that do not fulfill us, or help us in our giving practice. Budgeting can help us move money the may go towards a luxury car, a larger than necessary house, or superfluous expenses and directs them to helping others, saving lives, and building skills that will help more people in the future.
So in many ways the practice of saving, budgeting, and planning personal expenses are inseparable parts of our practice of giving. We have built budgeting and reflection in to our weekly and monthly routine. Throughout the month we are mindful of our spending and earning through tracking money that comes in and out of our lives. Then we have weekly and monthly “Money Dates” were we take a moment to reflect on our recent spending, take care of routine financial tasks, and set goals for short term spending and long term saving and giving.
This is how we have begun to look at personal finance, not just as a way to get rich, or an unnecessary chore, but as an act of love that helps us to meet our deepest goals and aspirations.