Weekly Words of Wisdom: Mindfulness and Money

There is a lesson that my husband and I learned a while ago about money…we learned through experience but the lesson was put into words for us when we attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, at our church.

You know that plastic card in your wallet…the one that is tied directly to your bank account? Well, it is beating you to the punch when it comes to you saving money and establishing a firm financial future for yourself.

I have several plastic cards in my wallet…here’s a peek at just a few:

How often do you mindlessly swipe your cards...and then check your bank account in the hopes that you didn't over-draw?
How often do you mindlessly swipe your cards…and then check your bank account in the hopes that you didn’t over-draw?

Each of these cards are tied directly to my bank accounst, so it is very convenient for me to just swipe them through the card reader, hit “OK” and walk out with my bags full of goodies.

Easy.

Simple.

Mindless.

No counting is involved. No exchange. I don’t even have to look at the cashier if I don’t want to. (Which is convenient when I’m purchasing feminine hygiene products and the cashier is a young guy…does that embarrass anyone else?)

But this transaction, this non-participation in the exchange is dangerous…

Dave Ramsey will tell you that there is no pain associated with swiping a card. Cold hard cash is always much harder to part with…

See, “back in the old days” people used to be paid their wages in cash and they would exchange their cash for goods. Letting go of that hard-earned money was difficult. If you were making a major purchase, you could literally count away the hours you spent working for that money as you put it into the hands of the merchant making the sale.

To put this in perspective…

In 1900 a pound of beef cost .15 cents, a quart of milk cost .50 cents, and a dozen eggs cost .17 cents. In that same year, a teacher who had been working for four years in that profession could make up to $500 per year. (Yes…per year, not week.)

If a quart of milk was .50 cents and the teacher earned $10 dollars per week, then that teacher was handing over 5% of her salary to purchase food. Imagine paying 5% of your salary for milk…say you earn $45,000 per year. (That is almost $940 per week gross income). 5% of 940 is 47. Would you pay $47 for a quart of milk?

We may as well pay $47 for a quart of milk! The mindless purchases that we make at the checkout add up to that (or more) anyway. Have you ever walked into the store to get milk, bread, and eggs and walked out with a cup of coffee, a magazine, a pack of gum, a bunch of flowers and a bottle of water?

But – you CAN be more mindful of your money. You CAN control your spending – by using cash!

Here’s an exercise for you:

When your next paycheck is deposited to your account, withdraw it all. Every penny. Determine your hourly wage and then count your money into piles that each represent one hour of pay. Put a paperclip or rubber band around each pile.

Use those little bundles for all of your weekly purchases.

My bet is that you will be way more conscious about how your spend those bundles. Maybe you’ll realize that your Vogue magazine costs you a full 30 minutes of work, or that your gourmet coffee habit costs you three hours of work each week.

Leave a comment below after you’ve done this little exercise! I’d LOVE to hear about it and how it changed your spending habits.

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