Most of us spend money without really thinking about it. We’ve done it so much that it’s practically a reflex. But spending has both long and short-term consequences.

With an effective thought process, your spending can be far more meaningful to your life. You’ll probably save a lot of money, too.

To get more satisfaction from your money, follow these 7 steps:

1. Before spending any money, take a moment.
Even if it’s just a few cents, take the time to ask yourself if this is a good way to spend your hard-earned money. Why are you making this purchase? Do you really need it or is it something you want?

Simply adding some time between your impulse and your purchase can eliminate a lot of unnecessary spending.

This doesn’t only pertain to typical impulse purchases, but to monthly bills as well. There are people with cable service who never watch TV. Examine all of your spending and determine if the expenditure is worth it.

2. Determine the short-term costs.
For some people, buying a pizza means paying the electric bill late. For others, it causes a sense of guilt. Look ahead over the next month and determine what this purchase will actually cost you. Perhaps buying that pair of shoes means you can’t take the kids to see a movie next weekend.

3. Determine the long-term costs.
The future value of money is hard to determine. There are many calculators online that will do the analysis for you. But consider that $100 invested at 10.8% (the average long-term stock market return) is worth over $2,500 in 30 years.

Is the $100 item you want today worth giving up $2,500 in the future?

4. Consider the effects on your health.
Candy, alcohol, tobacco, and potato chips can be enjoyable, but are they worth the cost to your health? Before making any purchases, consider the risks. And it’s not just food. Is partaking in potentially dangerous activities worth the risk? Only you can decide.

5. Consider the environmental effects.
Some brands simply do not support the environment. Consider supporting companies that produce products and services with the environment in mind. Many times, a green option is available.

Vote with your dollars to help the world.

6. Consider the effect on your peace of mind.
Owning too much stuff creates clutter that can really weigh you down. An effective rule is to get rid of an item every time you purchase something new. Selling the old item will help to offset the cost. Getting rid of the old item is also a good test to see if the new item is really worth it.

Having a guilty conscience is another thing to consider. If it feels wrong, it likely is wrong for your situation.

7. Decide if you need or love the item.
Before purchasing something, ask yourself if you need it. If you don’t need it, ask yourself if you love it. If the answer to both of these questions is “no,” why should you purchase it?

Limit your purchases to things you need or love. It’s worth the time or extra money to find and buy something you love and will enjoy long-term.

Finances are an important part of life. It’s much easier to enjoy life if you have the resources to pay your bills and enjoy your favorite activities. This is much easier to accomplish if you’ll think about your spending in a new way – Zen spending.

7 Steps to Zen Spending

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