Financial Freedom Mindset: The Benefits of Gratitude

There has been quite a bit of research done across multiple disciplines about the benefits of gratitude, from the religious sectors all the way to the personal finance industry. Gratitude simply makes life better. It has been shown to improve your mental, physical, and emotional health. It opens the door to better relationships, both personal and spiritual. It enhances empathy and leads to less aggression and more acceptance. Also, grateful people sleep better, eat healthier, and build stronger careers. Grateful people even spend less money!

So, why do so many of us intentionally practice giving thanks ONLY in the month of November? This practice needs to be a year-round aspiration! Here are a few (maybe less-obvious) ways to sustain the benefits of Thanksgiving throughout the year. As you practice giving thanks in all the months of the year, you might recognize how much you already have and how little you need to buy to have a beautiful life.

Praise and Prayer

Hang a poster board, butcher paper, or a chalk board up with the words, “Praise” and “Prayer”, in a high traffic area in your home, such as the back door or the mud room. Encourage family members to write what they are thankful for on the Praise side and ask for prayers for themselves and others on the opposite side.

Gratitude Journal

gratitude journal

Keep a spiral notebook open on the kitchen counter and have each person jot down something they are grateful for or something they’re looking forward to in the journal each day. Bring it to the dinner table one day per week and share your family’s good news with each other.

Random Thank You Notes

random thank you notes to instill gratitude

I am terrible at writing out thank you notes after a birthday party. I wish I was better at it, but maybe thank you notes would be even more appreciated when they’re not considered obligatory. Keep thank you notes available in your home and practice writing notes to friends after an act of kindness or a fun night out. Encourage your kids to do the same, even to their own siblings. Gasp! 


Closet and Pantry Inventory

Before going shopping for something new or for gifts for others, take a mental (or written) inventory of what’s in your closet, pantry, or playroom. This can help you and your kids recognize how much you already own and be grateful for it. While cleaning toys or putting away laundry, I often point out to the kids the abundance they have of these items. We also discuss whether they really need duplicates of certain items. This practice will likely prevent you from over-spending on what you don’t really need. You may even find gifts for others in your home and skip the shopping trip altogether.

Pick a “No-Negativity Day”

Life is tough! Venting helps.

But maybe, just one day per week can become a sacred “No-Negativity” day. On this day, focus entirely on being positive. This would be a HUGE challenge for me and therefore, this is one tradition I’m going to strive for throughout the year! Someone please hold me accountable.

Organize your Stuff

Assigning specific locations in your home for arts and crafts, school supplies, toys, books, seasonal decor, tools, etc and keeping them all very organized can not only help with recognizing the many things you own, it can also help you appreciate the space you have available to you for storing it all. If you don’t have the space, then give excess items away. An organized and clutter-free home leads to better appreciation for where you live and what you have. It might also keep you from searching for a bigger, more expensive home or additional storage for your stuff.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

Since practicing gratitude daily, we have spent significantly less money as a family. We have become more aware of what brings us joy and how little money we actually need to enjoy each other’s company. We also have an acute awareness of what we own and primarily purchase food and basic home necessities when out shopping. An attitude of gratitude is also leading us down a path toward minimalism. We haven’t embraced it fully, but it’s looming on the horizon like it never has before.

Change your Mindset

Financial Freedom in 2021! Take Action: Day 6

Most of the books I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to have taught brilliant and reproducible finance strategies, but more importantly, they’ve taught me even more about mindset. I’ve encountered atomic habit techniques, ways to dream big, encouragement to think a million and to become a millionaire next door, motivation to live frugally, as well as reminders to walk my own path. Every story I’ve read about someone else’s struggles and/or successes has led to more motivation to stay the course toward my own financial freedom.

However, it can be easy to slip back into old habits and a keeping-up-with-the-joneses mindset without regular reminders of why this path is important and possible. Here are a few money truths that I choose to focus on:

  • You only see what people spend, not what they save. Wealth is based on savings, so those who spend the most may not be the ones I should model my habits after.
  • NOT investing is riskier than investing.
  • The things in life that bring the greatest joy are usually free.
  • Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • My family has far more than we could ever need to live a happy, healthy life.

Beyond all of these reminders, I’ve found that the biggest factor in changing my mindset from a spender to a saver, from a hoarder to a giver, and from helpless to capable is daily gratitude. To take action today, write down 10 things you are grateful for and 10 things that bring you joy. Then, reflect on the following questions:

1. What would your perfect day look like?

2. How much money would you need to participate in the 10 things that bring you joy and/or your perfect day?

3. What percentage of clothes in your closet do you wear regularly? What percentage of dishes in your cabinets do you use regularly? Percentage of toys? Tools? Do you really *need* more?

4. Who do you compare yourself to most frequently and why? Are you envious of their spending habits? What intrigues you the most?

5. What activities do you participate in or items do you buy for the primary purpose of posting on social media?

6. What percentage of your income are you giving to charity? Does that contribution match your heart/desire for giving?

7. Think of the last 5 non-essential, non-gift items or services you bought? Did any of them relate to your list of 10 things that bring you joy? Did any of the purchases help you get closer to reaching your personal goals or contribute to your list of priorities from day 2?

8. How much food do you throw away per week? Check out these statistics on food waste and how we can all reduce our impact.

9. Do you have a net worth of at least $100,000 (Assets – Liabilities > $100,000)? If so, did you know that you’re in the wealthiest 10% of the world?!

10. Would any of your relationships change if you lived a life of less… less spending, less waste, less participation in expensive activities, less debt, etc? How and why?

Your answers to these questions might help you determine whether you’re ready to make a mindset shift toward financial freedom. If so, it’s time to get creative with saving! Check out these ideas to motivate yourself to save rather than spend: AMP Up Your Savings!

If you’d like even more resources to help with mindset and strategies, check out what Frugal with Four recommends.