How to Practice Mindful Spending

Being Mindful With Spending

Mindful spending is when we only buy something that will create a net benefit to our well being, in proportion to its relative cost. The idea here is to spend money with purpose! 😀 This will reduce waste, maximize economic utility, and give us the most bang for our buck, so-to-speak. 🙂


In practice, all we need to remember are 3 simple questions when contemplating a new purchase.

  1. Why do I want this?
  2. What are the positive and negative effects this product or service will have on me, whether they be physical, practical, emotional, or spiritual?
  3. Assuming the answer to #2 has a net positive benefit, how much am I willing to pay for this?

That’s pretty much it. We can use this simple application every time we want to buy food, furniture, cars, investments, a swedish massage, real estate, and even an education. This literally works for anything that has monetary value.

Let’s take a look at how we might answer those 3 questions in real life cases below: Since mindful spending is based on individual preferences I will only be using myself in the following examples as I can’t speak for anyone else.

  • Should I buy a Nikon D5 camera?
    1) I want to take pretty photos just for fun.
    2) Helps me learn to become a better photographer. Fun to play with a new camera.
    3) $100 because I’ll probably take the camera out with me a few times, get bored with it, and never use it again.
    So in this case, I would not buy the camera since it costs thousands of dollars.
  • Should I go back to school?
    1) To increase my earning potential.
    2) Spend 2 to 4 years in full-time education. Estimated income out of school is 5% to 10% higher than now. Loss of income during time in school.
    3) (-$70,000) because after accounting for both benefits and opportunity costs of going back to school, I would lose $70,000 in the long run.
    So in this case, it’s not worth it at all. Even if I received full scholarship to attend art school for free I still wouldn’t do it.
  • Should I subscribe to Netflix?
    1) I enjoy watching its original programming.
    2) Provides entertainment value. On demand and no commercials. Uses up a lot of my limited internet bandwidth.
    3) $40/month, because for the enjoyment I get out of the service I would gladly pay $2 per hour of view time, and I watch at least 20 hours of Netflix a month.
    So in this case, I would and actually do have a Netflix subscription already since it’s only $10/month, which is cheaper than what I’m willing to pay for.

The interesting thing about mindful spending is that the outcomes of what we chose to buy will be different for everyone. 🙂 For amateur photographers, maybe buying an expensive camera is worth the cost because they’ll spend hundreds of hours with the camera, take amazing photos, and maybe even turn their hobby into a business to make some side income. For some careers, going back to school to get a more advanced degree or a specific designation like “CA” can boost salaries by 40% right away, so higher education is worth it for some people. Instead of watching TV some people enjoy being outdoors more so they can save a lot of money by not subscribing to cable, Netflix, Hulu, or other video services because it won’t bring any value to their lives. They can spend their money instead on hiking supplies. It’s not necessary to have both Netflix and good hiking gear to have a good time.

The point is to prioritize what’s important to us and only spend money on what we think is important. This may sound like common sense but it’s surprising how many people don’t do this, lol.

Everything we do takes time. We can’t wear 20 pairs of shoes simultaneously, or watch Netflix while hiking a rough terrain, or play Pokemon Go while driving. The reason some people struggle to make ends meet is because they are not being mindful of their spending. They buy a 2,000 sq ft home when they only ever use half of it. They end up wasting a lot of money buying unnecessary clothes, shoes, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, and other products that they’ll only use a few times and then regret their purchase. If they practice mindful spending they will realize that it doesn’t take a lot of money to provide a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. 🙂

Random Useless Fact:



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08/29/2016 12:11 pm

Great way to try to curb your spending. Easy to ask a few questions then to have buyer’s remorse later on down the road. I know I’ve wasted money on lots of things that have since just been dust collectors after a few weeks.

08/29/2016 2:58 pm

“We can’t…play Pokemon Go while driving.”

How wrong you are:
Driver Playing Pokemon Go Kills Pedestrian In Japan

You seem to forget that at least 50% of the population is stupid. Perhaps not on a constant basis, but stupid nonetheless. Acts of stupidity, including mindless shopping, are how a great many companies (some of which you own) earn their profits.

08/29/2016 3:08 pm
Reply to  Anon

Here’s another dumbass on this side of the pond, just to prove stupidity knows no borders:

08/29/2016 4:52 pm

Anything to help you think before spending! I like the idea of thinking what the value is and what you’re willing to pay for it, then compare with the asking price!

Financial Canadian
08/29/2016 5:22 pm

Three great rules for monitoring your spending. Personally, I often think of “how many hours do I have to work to pay for this purchase?” That’s enough to deter most impulse spending 😉

Taking over my portfolio
Taking over my portfolio
08/30/2016 6:17 am

That is actually a great way to monitor your spending FC! I am going to use It from now on. Thanks:)

08/30/2016 6:35 am

What if you don’t work (e.g. unemployed, retired, etc.)?

08/30/2016 9:00 am
Reply to  Anon

Anon, What if you don’t work… I don’t work, but apply exactly what FC has suggested… You need to know what your time is worth, and that can vary depending on your abilities and personal goals regarding spending money… I’ve learned to fix my car for most basic maintenance needs because the shop rate is $95/hr +taxes not to mention drop off and pick-up time and travel costs… so I change my own oil, rotate my tires, do all the basic maintenance at home… It’s a cost analysis… That said, to do a brake job, I’d bring it in, because i don’t want to fiddle to figure out how because it is not something I enjoy doing, or want to take the time to do, because it isn’t something I would do often… But I do know a friend I would barter with as i will do wood working job in exchange for his time O.o. Another example is I have learned how to invest on my own, so take care of personal family finances, why because for one I could not bear to watch the fees with someone else handling it… The last year we were invested in mutual… Read more »

xyz from Financial Path
09/01/2016 10:34 am

Can he have more than 2 shoes?
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