When it comes to financial planning, practicing gratitude can help boost your results and keep you on track toward your financial goals.
For many of us, the holiday season can be both thrilling and overwhelming. Festive gatherings and heartfelt gift-giving often come with the financial strain of traveling, entertaining, and shopping. Even when we’re enjoying ourselves, these additional responsibilities can create stress, leading us to lose sight of the true spirit of the season.
Yet amid the holiday frenzy, there lies a simple, transformative practice: gratitude. Gratitude shifts our focus, compelling us to appreciate what we have, make more mindful choices, and navigate the holidays with clarity and purpose.
But beyond just feeling thankful this time of year, practicing gratitude can improve financial habits and decision-making all year long, driving us closer to financial freedom. From making wiser choices with our money to enhancing our generosity and resilience, gratitude can be integral to a sound financial practice.
#1: Gratitude Helps Improve Financial Decision-Making
One of the primary ways gratitude can lead to financial success is through better decision-making. For instance, one study found that people who practice gratitude are less likely to feel pressure to satisfy short-term urges, leading them to make better financial choices over time.
According to a different study, gratitude also tends to make people less materialistic. This finding suggests that those who focus on what they have are less likely to fixate on acquiring more.
When it comes to financial planning, gratitude can help keep you on track toward your financial goals by reducing the desire for instant gratification and material possessions. By consistently recognizing the value of what you already have, it becomes easier to exercise patience and restraint in both routine and longer-term financial decisions.
#2: Gratitude Promotes Generosity
Unsurprisingly, numerous studies have found that gratitude and generosity go hand in hand. In fact, research shows that gratitude and giving share a neural pathway, meaning that when we’re grateful, our brains change in ways to make us more charitable.
Yet, altruism’s benefits extend beyond holiday gift-giving. Gifting and charitable giving are two powerful strategies that can enhance your financial plan due to the associated tax benefits.
For example, taking advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion can help you reduce the value of your taxable estate while making a potentially meaningful difference in the financial life of a loved one. As of 2023, individuals can gift up to $17,000 per beneficiary without triggering the gift tax.
Meanwhile, charitable giving can offer significant tax benefits, both immediate and longer-term. By giving strategically, you can meaningfully reduce your taxable income in above-average earnings years, minimizing your lifetime tax bill.
Incorporating giving into your financial plan can be as simple as setting up a monthly donation to a cause you care deeply about or budgeting for a family tradition of giving back during the holidays. Alternatively, you may want to consider setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF) for greater flexibility in achieving your philanthropic and financial goals. Be sure to consult with a financial planner or tax expert for personalized advice.
When you’re grateful for your own good fortune, giving back provides a way to spread the same good fortune to others. At the same time, you get to reap the personal and financial benefits of giving, amplifying its impact.
#3: Gratitude Can Enhance Financial Resilience
Finally, studies show that gratitude makes us more optimistic and better able to deal with adversity. As such, being grateful encourages a broader perspective that emphasizes long-term aspirations rather than short-term disappointments.
Cultivating this resilience to financial setbacks can be a powerful advantage in the realm of personal finance and investing. Indeed, research repeatedly shows that investors who maintain a long-term perspective and stick to their financial plan tend to fare better over time than those who react to short-term market disruptions.
In addition, keep in mind that financial resilience isn’t just a mental game. You can also make your financial plan more resilient by building up your emergency funds and ensuring your portfolio is properly diversified, among other risk-management strategies.
Gratitude and Your Financial Well-Being
There are many ways you can incorporate gratitude into your daily financial planning routine. Here are a few ideas to help you develop a practice that’s both personal and rewarding:
- Start a Gratitude Journal. Dedicate a few minutes each day to write down things you’re thankful for. This could range from the comfort of a warm home to the satisfaction of a well-balanced budget. These simple acknowledgements can help recalibrate your perception of spending and saving by bringing your priorities into focus.
- Reflect During Financial Activities. Before paying bills or reviewing your bank statements, take a moment to express gratitude for the ability to meet your financial obligations and for the peace of mind that comes from a sound financial plan.
- Appreciate the Value of Experiences. Redirect the focus from acquiring goods to appreciating experiences. Be it a simple walk in the park or a gathering with friends, cherishing these moments can lessen the urge to find happiness in material possessions.
- Practice Mindful Spending. Before making a purchase, consider what you’re grateful for about the item or service, as well as what you already have. This can help you avoid impulsive buys and ensures that your spending aligns with your values.
- Set Grateful Financial Goals. When setting financial goals, start by being thankful for any progress or stability you’ve already achieved. This positive foundation can be motivating and enhance your commitment to your goals.
Incorporating gratitude into your daily life doesn’t require grand gestures. Small, consistent practices can bring about a shift in mindset that transforms not only your view on money but also enriches your life with a deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Success Starts with a Sound Financial Plan
While gratitude can no doubt help us navigate the ups and downs of the holiday season, it’s important to remember that it’s more than just a seasonal guest. Indeed, gratitude can be a powerful ally in our financial planning journeys, helping us make smarter decisions, foster generosity, and build the necessary resilience to stay on track toward our financial goals.
However, financial success doesn’t come from gratitude alone. A sound financial plan can help guide your daily decisions, navigate setbacks, and set you on a path toward financial freedom.
Benchmark Wealth Management is here to help. Contact us to take the first step toward a more secure and prosperous future and embrace the power of gratitude and holistic financial planning.
Richard W. Stout III is managing director of Benchmark Wealth Management, LLC, with 25 years of experience in the financial industry. He specializes in financial planning and asset management for individuals, families, and institutions seeking to build and monitor durable and sustainable plans for their financial futures. Rick is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designation. He obtained his MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his BA in Economics and Anthropology from the University of Connecticut. Rick has earned a Master of Science degree in Personal Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning. He has extensive background experience in lending, credit review and analysis, and real estate and partnership management. Learn more about Rick by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
Thomas J. Britt is managing director of Benchmark Wealth Management, LLC, with 23 years of experience in the financial industry. He specializes in executive financial planning, retirement planning, investing, as well as the management of trusts and endowments. Thomas is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. He holds the Master Planner Advanced StudiesSM, MPAS®, Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®), and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, CRPC® designations. Thomas earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of New Haven, an MBA in financial technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning. He is also a proud veteran of the United States Navy Submarine Force. Learn more about Tom by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
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