How to Shop More Mindfully

written by Bari Tessler May 19, 2021
How to shop more mindfully

Dear Money Adventurer,

When it comes to building an intentional, compassionate relationship with money, each of us has to decide what that looks and feels like for ourselves. Every single person’s money journey is uniquely their own, from your soul-deep aspirations and the new chapter you’re writing in your money story, to the day-to-day decisions of when and how you choose to spend your money.

And what you spend your money on.

Even as you grow deeper in your relationship with money, making money decisions on a day-to-day basis can still be tricky territory. So please hear me when I say that there is no single “right” way to make a money decision. We all need to create our own criteria to reflect and honor what matters most to us.

While that might sound like a lot of work, learning how to make money choices that feel good and are aligned with your values doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be pretty simple, even manageable, and empowering.

Having a set of questions to ask is so helpful to my decision-making process — I don’t feel like I’m making decisions in the dark, guessing my way through it, or relying only on my emotions.

Part of this journey is learning how to bring mindful self-awareness to every aspect of your money life, including when you’re buying groceries, replacing the clothes the kids grew out of overnight, or shopping online. That is why having a set of questions to support you when you’re making money decisions can help you feel clear and confident with every choice you make.

When I first started coming up with questions to ask myself while I was browsing the local thrift store or heading into Target, I became more conscious of my own values, needs, and desires, and how money could support me in fulfilling those.

I’m excited to share this simple, practical tool to help you bring more awareness to your day-to-day money journey. Before we go any further, remember, this is not about judgment or deprivation. This is an exercise in bringing more awareness to your money life, and I encourage you to come prepared with grace, compassion, and curiosity.

I use my questions before, during, and after making money decisions to help myself stay mindfully present in the moment.

Before Making a Money Decision

Let’s start at the beginning. Before I head out the door or hop online to do some shopping, I always start by asking myself, “Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?” (H.A.L.T. for short. The HALT acronym comes out of recovery programs, but adding this level of awareness to the process can help all of us make better decisions.)

Check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? Is there something you could (or perhaps should) do to take care of yourself before you go shopping? Do you need to drink some water or have a bite to eat first?

Next, think about what questions you want to have in mind while you’re out shopping — what comes to mind for you? Is there anything you want to prioritize or focus on? Here are some examples to help you get started on your own list:

Why do I want this?

Do I need it?

What value or benefit do I expect from this?

How often will I actually use it?

What emotion am I hoping this purchase will help create for me?

Am I trying to impress someone?

How do I feel about choosing not to buy this?

Is this purchase aligned with my values and the things that truly matter to me?

Would this purchase impact my short or long-term money goals? How?

When you’re just getting started with bringing more mindfulness to your shopping, you might be surprised by what comes up for you here. Allow yourself to take the time to sit with these questions and how you feel about the answers. When you’re ready to start shopping, remember to bring this same level of gentle awareness along with you.

During a Money Decision Moment

While you’re out and about, or scrolling around, shopping online, check-in with yourself throughout the process. Let this practice, these questions, ground you. Start with the H.A.L.T questions — are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? Do you need to hit pause for an hour, a few hours, or maybe even a day before you come back to this decision?

Do you need to revisit any of the questions you asked yourself before you got started?

Do you just need a quick breather and walk around the block to think about things a little more?

Draw your focus inward. Take a deep breath.

Ask yourself what emotions you’re feeling right now. In this moment, what sensations are you noticing in your body? Are there memories rising to the surface here? Thought patterns appearing in that old, familiar loop?

Remind yourself that there is no judgment here.

This is an exercise in growing your self-awareness and bringing that gentle attention to your relationship with money. Allow the answers to your questions to guide and inform your money decision making in the moment.

After Making a Money Decision

Just because the purchase has been made, or even when I decide against something in the end, I come back to my questions and follow up with myself. You can do this on your way back to your car, while you’re waiting for the bus, or wherever you are after clicking that “complete purchase” button. Again, you’ll want to craft your own questions, but here are a few to get you started no matter what decision you’ve made:

How do I feel in my body?

Do I feel energized or drained by this interaction?

What emotions are coming up for me now?

Was this a good decision?

How will I know if I’ve made a good money decision?

What would I do differently next time?

Remember, the questions you come up with aren’t written in stone. You can revisit them any time you like, shifting and adapting your list whenever you want or feel the need to. If you’re having a hard time coming up with your own questions, take this list with you and see how it feels; think about what you might change for next time to make it feel more your own. There truly is no “right” or “wrong” here, just what works for you.

These shopping questions are an easy, accessible way to bring more intention and mindfulness to your relationship with money — and yourself.

I encourage you to take the time to sit down and consider what questions you might want to ask yourself the next time you have some shopping to do. They truly make all the difference.

With dear wishes,

Are you feeling called to go deeper here?

This practice is a snapshot of the personal support and practical tools that I teach in my year-long money school and flagship program, The Art of Money. As a financial therapist, my work blends therapeutic, body-based practices with real-life financial tools to provide a holistic framework to support you in your money work.

My three-phase approach begins with Money Healing and the necessary work of integrating emotional and financial literacy with grace and compassion. This deeply personal work of bringing your money emotions out of the shadows and into the light is the beginning of every money-healing journey. Here we take a therapeutic approach to unshame your money story and learn body-based practices to ground you and build a solid foundation for a more authentic relationship with money in your life.

In the second phase, Money Practices, we work together to create the systems you need to manage the nuts and bolts of your money life without relying on a dry, dusty budget to tell you what you can, or can’t, do with your money. Bring your curiosity and a sense of fun – this isn’t your traditional bookkeeping (though there is a time and place for that, too)!

Money Maps is the final phase of the Art of Money. Here we explore your dreams and hopes for the future, diving deeper into questions like these to align your money relationship with your values, goals, and most precious aspirations.

This intimately personal work is an ongoing process, a lifelong path unfolding before you as you grow through life. I created the Art of Money to provide the holistic framework, genuine personal support, and real-life financial tools that you need to guide your journey of growth and transformation.

Begin your money healing journey with the Art of Money.

Sign up for instant access to your first of 12 monthly modules to begin your year-long Art of Money cycle. Every module includes new, practical teachings, exercises to encourage your heart, body, and soul, and inspiring guest teacher interviews. Connect with a global community of support in our private forum, led by alumni guides ready and willing to provide ongoing love, wisdom, and guidance as you grow along your Art of Money journey. Find accountability groups to help keep you on track and engaged, and join our live group coaching calls with Bari every month for a little extra guidance and inspiration, no matter where you are in your relationship with money. Plus, you’ll get weekly love notes sent straight to your inbox for an added dose of gentle encouragement.

Open yourself up to a new world of healing, transformation, and endless possibilities – join the Art of Money today. I can’t wait to welcome you.

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