How do you think about money? Do you find yourself worrying about how to make more of it? How to best use it to tackle your bills or build up your savings?
Another question for you: what if, instead of focusing on how to get more money, you focus on being thankful for what you already have?
We all have gratitude on the brain with Thanksgiving approaching. But I think practicing gratitude regularly, even daily, can make a positive impact on your personal finances. Let’s talk about the benefits of gratitude on your wallet.
It can curb overspending
When I say “overspending,” I don’t mean going over your budget every once in a while, or splurging on a purchase that’s high quality or meaningful to you. What we’re really talking about is spending too much too often on hastily bought stuff.
It’s the purpose behind the purchase. Are you overspending this one time because you know you’ll really love this thing? (Or if it’s a gift, you know someone else will really cherish it?) Or…are you just seeking out that exciting feeling of spending?
If you are an emotional spender, practicing gratitude can help you love what you already have. It can help you break out of that mindset that you need more, and that buying more stuff makes you happy…for now, until your next purchase. Feelings of gratitude replace that need.
Gratitude Tip: Take one minute out of your day to think about what you’re grateful for. Don’t limit yourself to possessions, either! You might be happy that it’s sunny outside, that you cooked a delicious lunch for yourself, or that you’re ahead of schedule on your work to-do list. You’ll find it easier to ignore that impulse to shop when you remember what you already have.
It makes you more generous
Yep, practicing gratitude makes you more generous. There are scientific studies to back this up! Gratitude and giving are connected in your brain, so when you’re grateful, your brain becomes more charitable.
How does this tie into your finances? You may want to start giving to nonprofit organizations, or making it a regular practice. When you start prioritizing giving back, you have to reevaluate your budget to make room for your donations. It can help you stay on top of your budget. The tax breaks don’t hurt, either.
Even better, though, are the psychological money effects of being generous. You may find that using your money in line with your values, to donate to causes you care about, makes you happier in the long run.
Gratitude Tip: Write a letter of gratitude to someone. Talk about how you’re thankful for that person. You can send the letter or hold onto it for yourself, but either way, you’ll cultivate feelings of gratitude just by writing that letter. And you’ll feel more grateful and generous towards others after.
It improves your feelings towards financial decisions
Another scientific study found that gratitude can affect how you make financial decisions. Gratitude can actually make you more patient with your money. Participants in this study were given the choice between getting $54 immediately, or $80 if they waited 30 days. The participants who showed higher feelings of gratitude were more likely to choose the $80.
Practicing gratitude regularly can help you ditch those impulse buying urges that we talked about previously. It may also improve your saving habits; instead of buying what you want now, you’ll look ahead to save for something in the future.
Gratitude Tip: Rather than buy things, spend money on experiences. Experiences stick in our memories longer than possessions — you may not remember buying your last smart TV, but you probably remember that amazing vacation to Hawaii years ago.
It helps you focus on what you have
Make gratitude a regular practice, and you’ll find yourself focusing on what you have. When you count your blessings, you’re more likely to feel positive about life, help others, and even get sick less often and exercise more.
Being content with what you have is good for your wallet, too. We often reach a certain level of income or get used to a certain quality of living. Eventually, we start wanting more. We level up by buying “better” stuff, get used to that stuff, and then find ourselves wanting more again. Practicing gratitude can help you ditch those feelings and be happy with what you already have.
Gratitude Tip: Gratitude journals have become pretty popular lately. A common practice is to write down three things you’re grateful for every day. A better way to do practice gratitude journaling, studies say, is to write in detail about one thing you’re grateful for instead. Really savor that one thing, and that’ll make more of an impact.
Cultivate gratitude in your finances
One of the best parts about practicing gratitude with your financial life? It’s free. All it costs is your time and a little bit of effort. And if better spending habits, more generosity, healthier feelings toward money, and overall contentment with your life are the benefits, then I’d say it’s totally worth it.
Want to get in touch with your finances so you can feel grateful instead of stressed?
Check out our 5-day budgeting challenge. It’s totally free and will show you a new way to look at your money (instead of just feeling frustrated by it).