Here comes another post in my Simple Year series. This month is all about money and mindfulness. I previously wrote about my experiences with Digital Decluttering, Simple Cooking, Travelling with Less, and my Start of the Simple Year 2017.

I have wanted to write this post for about two weeks. I didn’t do it. I feel stuck, and there are too many private things that are currently occupying my mind. I am going through a challenging phase in my life but am determined not to let uncertainty turn into fear. Fear about not having enough money to support my sons and myself and sustain my desired lifestyle in the future.

Living for a prolonged period of time with negative emotions is bad for your health and wellbeing. You will get sick if you don’t listen to your body. Writing is one of my ways to let go of unwanted emotions. It seriously helps get the words down on paper (I write a journal every day) or type up your thoughts. It’s a carthartic exercise, especially if you are dealing with challenging stuff that is not for everybody’s ears.

So when the topic Money and Mindful Budgeting popped up in my inbox earlier this month, first of all, I was intrigued by the synchronicity of events. I have been working with my coach on letting go of my money beliefs which have been standing in my way for a long time. In the past, I never really faced them, as I relied on my husband’s income as my safety net.
Over the past nine years since we arrived in Australia, I have been manoeuvring myself into a financial dependence from my husband to the point where I kept suppressing my emotions because of the fear of not being able to support myself alone. Luckily, the Universe intervened at the right time by sending me a skilled Kahuna bodyworker who gave me a priceless gift at the end of last year. I reconnected with my inner feminine wisdom and started a journey of self-discovery and exploration. And because of my new financial situation as of next year, money plays an important part on this journey.

I had already started working on my personal budget and listing every expense I know off into an excel sheet after I had been read Dr Christiane Northrup’s bestseller The Wisdom of Menopause in April this year. I recorded many quotes and passages from this book, one that struck a cord with me was:

Whatever the changes that precipitate a woman’s empty-nest experience, the only path that will allow the full expression of her creative potential in the second half of her life is the path that establishes her full independence: both emotionally and financially.

Dr Christiane Northrup

The Wisdom of Menopause

I am now focusing on both these areas and therefore welcomed the Money topic in the Simple Year programme. There was quite a bit material to read through, and I loved the practical approach (being German I like efficiency) with checklists and worksheets.

Learn how to budget mindfully

One document particularly interested me: The Mindful Budgeting Programme. It encourages you “to stop making impulse purchases, start making mindful decisions and move you in the direction you want your financial life to be going.” Exactly what I need right now. The author suggests to print out the following eight templates at the beginning of each month. To save paper, you can also write your answers in a notebook.
The templates are:
  • 5 x weekly spending sheets
  • 1 x monthly budget template
  • 1 x monthly check-in sheet
  • 1 x blank monthly calendar template
If you want to get an overview of what you spend each week, I highly recommend these weekly spending sheets. Every day, I am writing down what I have spent, no matter how small the amount. Once you start listing every takeaway coffee, lunch, purchase at the supermarket, post office, or local bookshop or newsagent (oh, I am guilty of this), you will come to a point where you are scared about how much you spend without thinking about it.

How much do you spend in one day?

I am now in my second week and already start thinking about what I spend during the day. The mere thought of having to write the expense in this worksheet at the end of the day prompts me to think twice if I really need what I am about to buy. I assume that as I am working from home, it is easier for me to save money, as I am not tempted buying stuff while out at my lunch break for example. But still, the other day I was surprised how I had spent almost two hundred dollars within three hours at the shopping centre including taking my sons to the cinema.
It requires some discipline and keeping track of receipts during the day, but I find this a very valuable exercise. What it does apart from telling you the total of your spendings, you also can track exactly what you spent for yourself, including necessities and little treats, what you paid for your children or other family members, what are recurring expenses (rent, mortgage, insurances, phone, subscriptions, etc).
Once you have recorded your expenses, at the end of the week, there are three questions to answer:
What was the best money you spent that week?
What have you been proud of?
What is my goal for next week?
Align your budget

Additionally, there is a worksheet called Align Your Budget, which you can fill out every three months. The aim is to adjust your budget in a way that it helps you achieve your goals. Step one focusses on your top priorities at the time you fill out the sheet. This is not about financial goals but more about anything that you want to do, achieve, places you would like to visit, etc.  The author suggests to set the timer on two minutes and write down what comes to your mind in this limited timeframe.

Then, you prioritise your top 5 financial goals that will help you achieve your priorities you jotted down before. In the next step, you revisit your weekly spending sheets and/or bank accounts to see how much money you have allocated to each of your goals. Think about if you need to adjust or could put aside more for a specific goal.
The last step on this sheet is about finding creative ways to achieve your goals quicker. Where can you adjust spendings, stop buying something altogether, or maybe sell some of your stuff (remember, the Simple Year programme started with a big de-cluttering session in January).
Finally, the author suggests thinking about your financial goals every time you are about to make a purchase or swipe your credit card. Go through this worksheet every quarter and see if your goals have changed. Adjust your budget accordingly.
What do you think of this approach?
I am determined to follow through with the weekly spending sheets until the end of the year and align my budget again in October. I like the feeling of having control over my finances something I have been neglecting in the past.

Further Reading

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