In January, I realized I was burnt out, just like the majority of working Canadians. I was fortunate that I had some savings, so I took a few weeks off to decompress from the pandemic/life/general anxiety that was 2020 and 2021.
But a few weeks in, a different kind of anxiety started to creep in: money anxiety. I would check my investments every day and berate myself for spending any money, even on necessities like groceries. Turns out, I’m not alone: more than half of Canadians have lost sleep over money concerns.
So I called my financial advisor, Karlee Vukets, to ask her if she had any tips to mitigate this anxiety. I expected her to do the classic certified financial planner thing and dig into my savings accounts or grill me about my spending habits, but she did something different. She guided me through a mindful money meditation.
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What is mindful money meditation?
Mindful money meditation personifies money as a relationship in your life and how you nurture that relationship, according to Vukets.
“Are you never showing up for [money] when it knocks on your door, AKA bills? Are you ignoring them?” Vukets says. “You actually have a relationship with it, so how do you want to nurture and be in relation with your money?”
Put simply, mindful money meditation is all about thinking about how you would treat a friend or a partner, and comparing that to how you treat your money.
Related: The best ways to meditate, based on your personality type.
How does a mindful money meditation work?
Though there are guided mindful money meditations available, it’s just as easy (and free!) to do a mindful money meditation by yourself.
One method that Vukets recommends is setting a timer for 10 or 20 minutes and journaling about questions that you want to ask your money, such as:
- Why are you never here for me?
- Why don’t you ever show up?
- Why are you with everybody else and not with me?
Vukets recommends these types of questions because they will help you unpack your relationship to money and see what money says back to you.
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Does it actually work?
It may sound a tad “woo-woo” and even a bit corny, but I found that it really does work. When Vukets did a guided mindful money meditation with me, I realized how constantly scared I was of money leaving me, and how that created a cycle of guilt and shame around money for me. This feeling is especially common for women, who often feel more guilty than men for spending money.
There are structural and systemic issues that prevent people from thriving financially.
Vukets helped me craft a mantra in response to this: “Money has my back.” So, now every time I get worried that I’m overspending or need to dip into my emergency fund, I can go back to that mantra.
“You still have things that get brought up over the years and maybe sometimes new layers of it,” Vukets says. “And it’s not just retreating when you feel those, but choosing that courage again and again to stick with those emotions and work on that rewiring.”
Vukets is quick to add that mindful money meditation is not a magic wand. First off, there are structural and systemic issues that prevent people from thriving financially. Money meditation isn’t going to fix the fact that racialized women are still only paid 59.3% of white men’s earnings.
“It’s a very privileged thing to say that money can’t buy you happiness,” Vukets says.
Second, doing is as important as visualizing. If you want to get a better handle on your money, mindful money meditation is just the first step to choosing the courage to take action on that goal.
“If you’re paying off debt or student loans, you might see a negative net worth for a handful of years,” Vukets says. “That’s a difficult emotional place for you to be, which makes you not want to look at the numbers.”
‘Your net worth is not your self-worth,’ Vukets says. ‘Don’t conflate the two.’
Vukets recommends a good first step toward action is taking stock of your savings, your investments and your debts, AKA your net worth. This takes 10 minutes, and gives you a good snapshot of your current financial situation. From there, you can take steps to help you reach your goals, such as creating an emergency fund or paying off your debt.
“Your net worth is not your self-worth,” Vukets says. “Don’t conflate the two.”
Related: 10 bad money management habits you need to break in 2022.