How to Feel Joy With Your Money

Money. Joy. What? How’s this possible ? Get conscious of how, when and why you spend money. It’s as simple as that.

June 9, 2020

Money. Joy. What? How’s this possible ?

Get conscious of how, when and why you spend money.  It’s as simple as that.  

What is Conscious Spending ?

Most of the time, many of us spend without thinking.

Conscious spending is the process of actively deciding what you are going to spend your money on.  Having this clarity will lead you to using your money better. Every dollar you earn will have a purpose.  People who practice conscious spending deliberately allocate money to what truly makes them happy, and cut costs in other areas, without feeling deprived or any other negative ‘budget-related’ emotions.

How Do You Apply Conscious Spending?

Follow these simple steps:

1. Get transparency over your spending- examine where your money is going

2. Explore what really makes you happy

3. Cut down (or out) the things you don’t care about

4. Automate your spending

Step 1 – Look At Where Your Money Is Going

Take an hour or so to examine where your money is going.  

You can do this by looking through your past 6 months of spending.  This can be quickly achieved by downloading the transaction history from your online bank statements.  Most banks have the function to put the data into a spreadsheet.  Once you have this data, filter the amounts and put each item into a category. For example, you can use the following categories:



Motor Vehicle                  

Kids/ Pets            




Debt repayment

Then examine how much you spend in each category, express it as a percentage if you can.  You could determine that you are spending 40% on groceries and then ask yourself ‘is this what I value ?’, or you may discover your spending too much on entertainment or insurance.

Having this information will help you make informed decisions about your future spending.

When we spend money on something,it’s money we cannot spend on something else, either now or in the future.   Ask yourself ‘If I keep spending money in this category, where am I not going to be able to spend money, and can I live with the long-term consequences of continuing this for the next 2, 5-10 years ?’

The more you understand about your money, the more you’ll know what your options are.  

Step 2 – Know What Makes You Really Happy

Sit down and think about your top 5 values.  It might take a while, but it’s worth getting right.  To help get started, have a look at a Values list (Google one online and use that). Circle all the ones that resonate with you, then go back and reduce your list to just 5 values.

For example, mine are – connection, health,stability, achievement and variety.

Now you are aware of the things that are most important to you, give yourself permission to spend money on these areas. This is where you’ll get the most enjoyment from spending money.

Step 3 – Cut Down (or Out) The Things You Don’t Care About

Where are you spending money that you don’t get joy from ?  phone, electricity, internet,insurance or bank fees.  Whatever they are for you, these are the areas to focus on.

Can you negotiate better rates and free up some additional cashflow that won’t affect your lifestyle ? Where are you leaving money on the table ?  

You may discover that from Step 1, you spend a lot of money on takeaway food, however it isn’t something you value.  To manage your money effectively, this is where you cut or reduce spending and allocate it to savings and something aligned with your values instead.

By regularly spending money in accordance with your values and priorities, you’ll be less likely to waste money on frivolous expenses.

Ask yourself these questions:

Can I get this cheaper elsewhere, or borrow it ?

Do I need to buy it now, can I wait 1-6 months? 

Why am I buying this ? What will it give me ?

Is there somewhere else I can direct this money, that will make me happier in the long-term ?

Step 4 - Automate Your Spending & Savings

Here’s how we recommend setting up your money.  It’s based on Elizabeth Warren’s ‘50/20/30’model.  Divide your after-tax income into the following three buckets (or accounts):

50%     Needs   -these are the necessary costs for you to live, those bills you absolutely must pay.  Think mortgage or rent, groceries,insurance, car and utilities.  They don’t include things like Netflix or eating out.

20%      Investments - this is the most important category, and the one you should be making a priority of paying first.  This money gets allocated to savings, financial goals over the 1-5 years as well as your retirement and Future You funds.  This is where you can also allocate additional mortgage repayments as it results in increasing your Net Worth financial position.

30%      Wants – these are all the non-essential items you spend money on.  For example,TV show subscriptions, Spotify, handbags, shoes, eating out, gym membership. It also includes spending on luxury essential items, so say for instance you rent a home which is more than basic, the difference between a minimum rent and the higher rent you pay,should be allocated to your ‘Want’ bucket.

All the little ‘extras’ where money often is spent unconsciously.  This is where you need to get smarter.  Examine where you spend this money and ask yourself, does this make me truly happy, or do I have ‘buyers regret’ after purchasing it.

How it effectively works: say you earn $5,000 per month after tax.  Here’s how you’d allocate it:

$2,500 to Needs

$1,000 to Investing

$1,500 to Wants


Once you’ve set these buckets or bank accounts,regularly check-in online for the first few months to make sure it is working for you.  It may be that you need to review some of the areas where you are spending.  If 20% to Investments is too much for you at the moment, you might need to reduce it to 15% and top up Needs to 55%.  If this is the case, the other lever you can move is on the income side.  Think about how can you make more money, to ensure you’re putting away your 20% amount.


The goal of conscious spending isn’t to limit you, but to expand your awareness of the daily money patterns that have been holding you back. When you examine your spending to get the most satisfaction from your money, you add more to life, rather than feeling like you’re taking it away.  

If you need help forming new spending habits or re-framing your relationship with money, contact us to show you how.



Karen Eley is a financial coach with more than 20 years’ experience as a financial adviser. Through her business, Women Talking Finance, she helps women to be confident and knowledgeable about all things finance. Karen translates complex financial concepts into simple digestible ideas.

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