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What is mindful spending?

Mindful spending is about being more conscious of what you buy, and how you spend your money.

Why mindful spending matters

From supporting local businesses to helping the environment, being mindful of your spending could also help you save money.  

Many of us spend money on things we end up not using, or regret buying.

The climate action group WRAP say the UK throws away 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste and sends about £140 million worth of clothing to landfill. 

If you want to develop more sustainable spending habits, you’re not alone. The Office for National Statistics found 46% of people had changed the way they shopped to help tackle climate change.

Mindful spending doesn’t mean you have to give up all the things you enjoy. But it could make you more aware of the impact on your finances and the world around you. 

What are the benefits of mindful spending?

Practising mindful spending could help you:

Take control of your finances

Being more conscious of what you buy and why, can help you feel more in control of your money. Planning a budget, which includes all the money coming in and out of your account, can help you see where you could make changes and save more. 

Use our budget planning tool to help. 

Don’t overlook small things you can do. For example, if you regularly buy coffee out, a reusable cup could help reduce the amount of plastic being sent to landfill. 

Some cafes offer a discount if you take your own reusable cup. You could add any savings you make directly to your savings pot.

Reach your financial goals

Making changes to how you manage your money can help you reach your financial goals. For example, you may want to build an emergency fund as a financial safety net or reduce your debts

Using a budget and taking the time to think before you buy can reduce unnecessary spending and help reduce waste.

Explore: How to set and achieve your savings goals

Avoid financial regret

Delaying a purchase can help you make the right decision. You may find after a few days you’ve gone off the idea of buying whatever you had your eyes on. Or you may decide you want to go ahead, but with more certainty. 

This can help you avoid the financial regret you might feel after jumping straight in and buying something without much thought. 

Help the environment

Buying less could also help reduce overconsumption, and lower the amount of plastic and other materials being used and then wasted. 

Teach good financial behaviour

Spending mindfully and creating better habits, such as reusing or recycling what you already have, can inspire others to do the same. For example, you may influence children, family or friends by showing them how to budget, save money or reduce waste.

How to practise mindful spending

Thinking over your decision before you buy can help you avoid buyer’s regret. It can also help you feel more confident about your purchases.

Before you buy anything, you could try the PEAR exercise, devised by mindfulness business Awaris:

  • Pause
    Before you make a purchase, stop and think about it.
  • Examine
    Ask yourself questions, such as: Do I need it? Will I use it? Is it sustainable? Can it be recycled?
  • Accept
    Accept how you feel about a purchase. For example, you may feel disappointed if you’ve realised you don’t need the item you wanted, and that’s okay.
  • Respond
    If you’ve decided to make the purchase, will you buy it now or wait and save up a bit first? If you don’t want to make the purchase, will you add the money you were going to spend to your savings? Whatever you decide, be kind and don’t judge yourself.

Other techniques can also help you spend more mindfully. These include:

  • The 30-wear clothing challenge, where you commit to wearing a new item of clothing 30 times
  • The no-spend challenge, a period when you only spend on necessities

10 ways to shop more sustainably

Here are some simple things you can do to spend more sustainably:

  1. Get thrifty
    Try charity shops or second-hand stores when looking for clothes. You can help reduce textile waste, while finding bargains.
  2. Swap, donate or sell your unwanted clothes
    If you’re clearing out your wardrobe, avoid putting unwanted clothes in the bin. Instead, look at websites you can use to sell or swap, or donate them to charity shops so they can be worn and loved by someone else.
  3. Check the retailer
    A quick internet search can help you find out more about the retailer you’re buying from, including their sustainability efforts.
  4. Unsubscribe from emails
    Sales can be enticing, so unsubscribing from emails and removing your card from autofill can take away the temptation.
  5. Plan and prep your meals
    Deciding what to cook for the week ahead can help you only buy what you need. Think about how you’ll use any leftovers too, to avoid waste.
  6. Think about buying food that’s in season
    Buying seasonal food, grown in the UK, can help reduce how far it’s travelled to reach you.
  7. Shop locally
    Shopping locally could also reduce transport costs. Look online to find shops that source local produce.
  8. Check your budget before you splurge
    Before you buy anything, check your budget to see if you can afford it. You could also think about whether the item is a ‘want’ or a ‘need’.
  9. Think before you buy
    Before you buy something, think about the product or experience. You could take a day, a week, or more to see if you still actually want it.
  10. Set spending rules
    Setting yourself rules on how you spend your money can give you more control. For example, not spending on payday might help you avoid that flush feeling when your wage comes in.