I just finished reading this really interesting blog post about Mindful Spending that I wanted to share.
Mindful spending is something I've only started really implementing in the past few years. A great deal of my life was spent pulling out credit cards a bit too freely, running up debt, and confusing wants for needs. I've done a lot of soul searching about the whys of what I'd done in the past, and why that couldn't continue anymore. I'm grateful to have righted the situation before things got worse than they were, and learning to live within my means.
But this post I read reminds me that Mindful Spending isn't just watching how much you spend, but also considering the intent behind what you spend - putting your money where your mouth is, if you will. From the article:
Mindful spending is a way of treating yourself, your community, and your money with respect.
Mindful spending begs you to consider each dollar you spend an extension of your personal values, creating an individual economy that centers on what you love and not what society tells you you have to have. It means choosing not to spend money at all sometimes, choosing to spend more on high-quality, well-crafted items that support your community, and choosing to spend less on items that commercialism has put an unnecessary price tag on.
It really did make me reflect on how I spend my money. One of the biggest changes I've made is in how I spend my food dollars. I used to always look for the bargain - spending a great many years eating cheap, processed food (ramen noodles, anyone?). I remember in my first apartment with my best friend Ben, we used to say that we drank nothing but soda because it was cheaper than milk and juice. I bet that's still true today (although I don't drink milk or soda anymore, so I can't say for sure). But now, I really think about the quality of what I buy, how it's processed and where it comes from. Sure, I still buy processed foods from time to time, but I look at ingredients - if the ingredients are written in 5 pt. font so they can fit all 100 ingredients (chemicals), I just put it back on the shelf. I deserve better than that. I shop at the local PCC Market (food co-op/health food store) and invest in local, organic foods when I can.
Even a choice of store reflects on mindful spending. There is a store that I've browsed in that sells gemstones, rocks, and various other natural items. The prices are so insanely low that you just know that they have to using some sort of slave labor to obtain these items. I love the items in the store, but I refuse to buy any of it to support these prices that must likely reflect unfair trade.
Another example is a a major retailer that two years ago was selling king size flannel sheet sets for $20. I really needed sheets, and who doesn't like cheap prices? So I bought them. But now that I need more sheets, I'm having a hard time with the concept of $20 king sized flannel sheets. Think about the material and the workmanship that goes into making a king-sized set of sheets. I have a hard time thinking of ethics and fair trade when prices are that low.
For me, making the choice to not purchase is living in integrity and by my values.
Not all my choices are so virtuous. I'll be first to admit I still run through a drive-thru from time to time or buy some worthless junk I don't need, but I'm trying to make those events the exception and not the rule.
What does YOUR spending say about your personal values?