When special holidays approach, we tend to reflect on all the things we’re thankful for.
According to research in Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, feeling and expressing gratitude can improve our physical health, emotional well-being, and relationships.
It can also have a strong impact on our finances. Our Golden 1 Credit Union Financial Wellness team recently explored the connection between gratitude and finances. Here are the top points they shared on leveraging.
Gratitude can help guide us through financially stressful times.
During the past couple of years, many households have seen their finances stretched thinner due to the pandemic and inflation. When facing difficult financial times, it can be challenging to feel financially grateful.
However, when we focus on gratitude, we build our resilience and increase our capability to stand strong even amid challenges.
Gratitude can reduce impulse buys.
Even though many people have faced economic challenges this year, their spending choices don’t always reflect the reality of their finances.
According to a study by social commerce site Slickdeals, shoppers have spent an average of $314 a month ($3,600 annually), on impulse buys. Impulse spending is up significantly over the past two years ($276/month in 2021 and $183/month in 2020.)
People tend to make impulse buys because they’re feeling anxious or frustrated about their financial situations. They choose to spend more because, in the moment, making an impulsive purchase can feel rewarding and can distract from the frustrations of their financial reality.
However, after the newness wears off, they may feel the full impact and stress created by unplanned and unbudgeted spending, resulting in buyer’s remorse.
Social media also has an impact on shopper behavior and can increase impulse buys. Consumers are inundated with product ads and purchases can be made with only a couple of clicks. More than 60 percent of shoppers feel regret over a social media-driven impulse buy.
When you focus on cultivating gratitude, instead of feeling deprived and shopping to make up for it, your perspective starts to change. The need for instant gratification decreases and the ability to show financial patience increases. With gratitude, you recognize the value of what you have, and you reduce the need for comparison with your friends or others in your social media ecosystem.
Gratitude can give you a “why.”
What’s a “why?” It’s a deeper reason and purpose for the things you do and the choices you make.
Your why may be focused on your values, your goals, and dreams for the future, or the people you care about. For instance, one of our financial educators shared that her children were her why, while another shared that her why centered on showing gratitude and respect to her family as an immigrant.
The combination of gratitude and your why can put impulse buys and wants into perspective. For example, if one of your goals is for your child to play a musical instrument, you may feel more motivated to allocate funds toward music lessons rather than a daily coffee on the way to work.
Travel can be another long-term motivator. It can be easier to forego ordering takeout if you know the money you save will go toward funding a vacation where you’ll make lasting memories.
When you shift your mindset to gratitude, you can feel empowered and strengthened to make choices that drive your long-term priorities, rather than feeling frustrated that you’re not spending money on things you want right now.
Gratitude increases your desire to support others.
Gratitude acts as a motivator for a pay it forward mindset. Research shows that when we feel/express gratitude, our brain’s activity actually changes. We feel more rewarded by charitable donations than by receiving money ourselves.
Gratitude can empower you to allocate funds to your priorities. For example, some families choose to do a meatless Monday once a week and eat a simple plant-based meal. They then donate the money they would have spent on a more elaborate meal to a non-profit that provides food for those in need.
When we focus on gratitude, we appreciate what we have and focus on sharing our good fortune with others.
Genuine Gratitude Creates a Virtuous Cycle of Well-being
The more grateful you are for what you have— a job, roof over your head, food in the fridge— the more mindful you become about making decisions that affect them, and everything else that is important to you.
Your financial, physical, and mental well-being are interconnected. Feeling and expressing gratitude can have an impact on all three areas. Gratitude also boosts happiness and overall well-being.