11 Steps to Financial Discipline: How To Spend Money Mindfully

The toll of not having financial discipline can weigh heavy on your heart, affecting your peace of mind and dreams of a secure future – not to mention your bank account.

But with a few practical tools, you can break free from worry and recurring cycles of overspending, avoid debt, and regain hope in the possibility of a more financially stable and fulfilling life.

In this article, we’ll explore 11 powerful tips for creating financial discipline, including actionable steps you can take immediately.

What is financial discipline?

Financial discipline is the practice of managing money wisely, making conscious spending choices, and sticking to a well-defined financial plan.

With financial self discipline, every spending choice becomes consciously aligned with your goals and values. Consistent small steps build financial self discipline, like saving and paying off debts, compound over time, paving the way to financial freedom.

Being proactive, having an emergency fund, and saying “no” to instant gratification are essential. It’s about striking the right balance, investing in experiences that bring lasting joy, and embracing a more fulfilling life.

11 tips for creating discipline with money

In this section, we’ll explore 11 practical and actionable tips that will empower you to take charge of your finances and make mindful decisions to achieve your goals.

1. Know your why

Before you decide to do anything else, you need to understand why you want to be financially disciplined.

What’s your end game?

Whether saving money for a dream vacation, building an emergency fund, starting a business, or securing your future, having a clear purpose will motivate and inspire you. Even when being disciplined doesn’t sound like much fun.

Without it, you’ll work hard at it for a few weeks and then quickly fall off track.

Actionable tips:

  • Spend 30 minutes journaling about what you want your life to look like in 1, 3, 5, 10, or 40 years. What does it look like? Feel like? Where are you living? How do you hope to make an impact on the world? This is your why.
  • Create a vision board with images representing your dreams.
  • Write your why down (physically!) on multiple sticky notes and put them where you can see them throughout the day. Think your bathroom mirror, monitor, the fridge.

2. Set values-based goals

Align your financial goals with your core values. 

Setting values-based goals infuses purpose and meaning into your financial decisions. This motivates you to stay on track and brings a sense of fulfillment as you watch your money contribute to what truly matters to you. 

Remember, when your values align with your finances, every step becomes purposeful and rewarding. 

So, identify your core values and let them guide your journey to achieve financial stability and success!

Actionable tips:

  • List your core values and how they relate to your finances. (Grab the FREE Intentional Budgeting Workbook for a step-by-step guide on how to do this! → Click here.)
  • Set specific and measurable financial goals based on your values.
  • Consistently re-evaluate your values and goals as you grow and your life evolves. Letting go of a goal that no longer speaks to you is okay!

3. Learn how to spend mindfully

Before making a purchase, pause and ask if it aligns with your values and goals. 

Mindful spending ensures your money goes where it matters most. Practice this awareness to make wiser, intentional decisions that support your long-term vision. 

By incorporating mindfulness into your financial habits, you gain control over your money and life’s direction. 

Actionable tips:

  • Before making a purchase, wait 30 days to see if you still want it.
  • Keep a “wish list” and review it regularly. This helps you prioritize your purchases and ensures you only buy what truly matters to you.
  • Implement a “one in, one out” rule for your possessions (especially with clothes!). If you’re unwilling to get rid of something you already have for the new item, you likely don’t need it.


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    4. Create a budget you can stick to

    Budgeting doesn’t have to be restrictive. 

    Keep it simple, categorize living expenses, and allocate a reasonable amount for each to stay in control without feeling limited.

    And focus on essential and discretionary items, balancing saving for the future and enjoying the present while regularly reviewing and adjusting your budget to accommodate changes. 

    Also – please celebrate your progress! Reinforcing positive habits keeps you motivated.

    Actionable tips:

    • A detailed record of your spending habits will reveal where you can make adjustments and save more effectively. 
    • Try reducing one category by 1% each month, and put that 1% in savings or investments. Small, gradual changes are easier to adapt to, and over time, they can significantly boost your savings and investment strategy.
    • Schedule regular “budget check-ins” to make adjustments. Set aside time each month to review your budget, assess your progress, and make any necessary changes to stay on track.

    5. Know how much you owe

    Knowing exactly how much you owe gives you a clear and realistic picture of your financial situation.

    One significant reason to be aware of your debt is the impact of interest rates. 

    High-interest debts can snowball quickly, causing your debt burden to grow. But by identifying these high-interest debts, you can prioritize paying them off first, reducing the interest you’ll need to pay in the long run. 

    This proactive approach can save money, helping you break free from the cycle of debt more efficiently.

    Actionable tips:

    • Make a list of all your debts, including credit card debt and personal loans, the interest on the debt, and when it will be paid off, assuming you stick to the minimum monthly payment schedule. 
    • Identify the high-interest debts that are costing you the most over time. 
    • Break down each debt into its principal amount and interest. I bet it motivates you to prioritize paying off the principal balance faster.

    6. Automate savings and investments

    Automate contributions from your checking accounts to your savings accounts and investments for a hassle-free way to stay on track. 

    With each paycheck, a portion goes directly towards your goals, harnessing the power of compounding and safeguarding your progress. Plus, setting up automatic transfers can reduce the temptation to spend impulsively and make saving and investing a seamless part of your financial routine. 

    Your money will work smarter and harder for you, propelling you toward your desired financial independence.

    Actionable tips:

    • Set up automatic transfers with your bank so that a portion of your monthly income goes into your savings and investments accounts without you needing to lift a finger.
    • Use apps that round up purchases and invest spare change.
    • Periodically review your automated contributions and assess your progress toward your goals. 

    7. Practice patience

    When managing your finances wisely, cultivating patience becomes an essential skill.

    It extends beyond individual financial decisions and encompasses a mindset that recognizes achieving financial goals is a journey, not a sprint.

    By embracing patience with your goals, you adopt a strategic perspective that appreciates the time it takes to build lasting wealth and security. Instead of seeking instant results, you recognize that meaningful progress requires consistent effort and persistence.

    Actionable tips:

    • Break down your long-term goals into short-term milestones. This approach keeps you motivated and focused on the journey rather than solely fixating on the end result.
    • Keep a vision board or list of your aspirations handy so you can easily visualize the future you’re working towards whenever you feel tempted to deviate from your plan.
    • Instead of viewing obstacles as failures, see them as chances to grow and adapt your strategies. A growth mindset empowers you to persevere and remain patient, knowing that every step forward, no matter how small, contributes to your long-term success.

    8. Understand the difference between need vs. want

    Needs are the fundamental requirements for survival, such as food, shelter, and basic clothing, while wants encompass desires that go beyond essential necessities and contribute to our quality of life.

    To identify the difference, pause and ask yourself a simple question before purchasing: “Is this a need or a want?” This conscious awareness prompts thoughtful consideration and ensures your spending aligns with your long-term goals. 

    By regularly evaluating your choices in this manner, you develop a keen sense of financial mindfulness.

    Actionable tips:

    • Review your spending habits and divide them into categories of needs and wants. This exercise clarifies where your money is going and allows you to identify potential areas for adjustment.
    • List all subscriptions and memberships and assess their value. Unsubscribe from rarely used ones or find free alternatives. 
    • Regularly express gratitude for having your essential needs fulfilled. This mindful practice helps you appreciate the abundance in your life and reduces the desire for unnecessary wants.

    9. Avoid temptation

    Start by identifying your personal spending triggers, whether it’s certain stores, online shopping platforms, or particular times of day. 

    You shield yourself from impulsive purchases that can derail your financial plan by identifying and steering clear of spending triggers. 

    This discipline preserves your hard-earned money for more meaningful purposes, such as building an emergency fund, investing for the future, or achieving major life goals.

    Actionable tips:

    • Limit your time on social media, where ads and influencers can entice impulsive spending.
    • Find fulfilling pursuits that don’t involve spending, replacing impulsive purchases with more meaningful experiences.
    • Review the data to pinpoint specific instances where you made impulsive purchases. Look for patterns, such as particular days of the week or emotional states linked to spontaneous spending.

    10. Learn to say no

    Saying no is not only okay, it’s a must.

    By confidently declining experiences and expenses that don’t align with your current values and goals, you can stay focused on “why” and avoid impulsive purchases that could throw you off track.

    Rather than giving in to societal pressures or peer influence.

    Actionable tips:

    • When presented with expensive outings or events, propose more affordable alternatives that still allow for meaningful experiences. Try a picnic, a walk, a movie, or a game night at home.
    • Establish a clear monthly budget for social outings and entertainment. A predefined spending limit empowers you to decline costly night outs that exceed your budget.
    • Communicating your commitment to responsible spending can foster understanding and support from your social circle. You’ll likely find that others have been wishing for the same thing!

    11. Stop comparing yourself to others

    In the world of social media and constant connectivity, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing your lifestyle to that of others

    However, constantly measuring yourself against external standards can harm your finances, often leading to impulsive purchases made purely out of FOMO. This is how we end up with $90 seaweed masks in the back of our cabinets, unused and crusty. 

    Recognize that everyone’s financial journey is unique and shaped by individual circumstances, values, and aspirations. 

    When you embrace this perspective, you can set realistic goals aligned with your priorities rather than trying to mimic others’ lifestyles.

    Actionable tips:

    • Be mindful of the content you consume and unfollow accounts that promote unrealistic lifestyles or excessive consumerism.
    • Surround yourself with supportive friends who share similar financial values.
    • Embrace a mindset of gratitude for where you are on your unique financial path, focusing on the positive steps you’ve taken rather than dwelling on what others may appear to have. 

    Why is financial discipline so important?

    Financial discipline is the key to achieving financial freedom and peace of mind. It empowers you to take control of your money and make informed decisions for a fulfilling future.

    Without financial discipline, stress and insecurity can arise from living paycheck to paycheck, and you may find it challenging to achieve your dreams and build financial security.

    How do I build financial discipline?

    Start by embracing your “why” and setting values-based goals. 

    Create a budget that suits your lifestyle but also accurately reflects your income, and automate your savings and retirement investments. With these foundations, you’ll be on your way to more wealth and mastering financial discipline for a brighter future.

    Achieving financial discipline: your path to financial independence

    Financial discipline means managing money wisely, making conscious choices, and sticking to a well-defined plan. 

    By embracing your goals, spending mindfully, and automating your savings plan, you’ve paved the way to success. So stay committed to becoming financially disciplined and enjoy the rewards of a brighter financial future.

    Need more inspiration? Check out the Book Recommendations page for insights from the most renowned voices in the industry. 

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